Feb 182013

Every time a musician says “no” to a gig, he is making his circle of opportunities a little smaller. When he’s feeling tired and wanting some chill time at home on the couch, someone else with more motor will take his spot and keep it.

Every time a pianist says “no” to practice, she’s saying that music is not as important to her as it is for some others. On the days she doesn’t practice, someone else is racing ahead to push the music a little further.

Every time a singer says “no” to fixing a mistake in practice, he’s telling himself the mistakes are OK. He’s made that mistake twenty times in the past, and he’s sung it correctly maybe once or twice. He may need to sing it right fifty or a hundred more times to patiently untrain the mistake.

Every time a novelist says “no” to writing, she is missing the opportunity to make her draft a little better. Other writers out there aren’t skipping as many days, and some of them will make it mainly on their drive and dedication.

Every time an artist says “no” to his most important project in order to dabble in something else, he is robbing the left pocket to fill the right one. Spending energy on a frivolous diversion with no intention to complete it diminishes the soul of his main pieces.

Every time a poet says “no” to working because she is worrying and doubting, she acts unkindly toward herself. Doubting herself means she doesn’t consider herself equal. Worrying denies that working very, very hard is what makes brilliant art. She does well to hold onto the truth: She is equal, and the best thing she can do for her creative heart is to work like she loves it and means it.

When you feel discouraged, lazy, distracted, or worried about your artistic work, bravely say “yes” to your creativity.

Jul 082011

Shannon Dyer is a vocalist who has performed across classical, sacred, folk, and musical theater genres. She has won vocal competitions, served as a church canter, and has performed professionally with chamber ensembles in New York City. I interviewed her about her experiences and vocal technique.

SM: Describe your background, training, and career

My background is highly classical. From the time I was eleven, I was trained classically. One of my majors in college was vocal performance with an emphasis in classical.

However I don’t really like a lot of the classical vocal pieces. They’re definitely challenging and useful for expanding range and making sure diction is good. I’ve taken the classical technique as much as it can be used to sing different genres of music. I sing a mixture of pop, folk,, and musical theater. I tend to shy away from fully classical performances. I did perform full-time for nine months with a full ensemble in New York City. That’s where we got into a lot of the German opera and Italian arias. There were things I really enjoyed about that, but it also taught me that I wouldn’t do well as a full-time classical musician. I prefer different genres of music.

SM: One of the things I noticed when I accompanied you once was the connection between your technical command of the voice and the emotional response of the audience.

I’ve been taught that there is a lot to be accomplished by knowing the technical art of singing. But I’ve also been taught that there is an equal important to channeling your emotions into your singing without losing the technical stuff. It’s an interesting mix–how do I sing this in a way that portrays a certain emotion? People that sing just by emotion tend to lose pitch a lot of times. Sometimes they’re voices will sound strange with cracking and sliding around. You can only sing that way for so long before you’re going to have vocal issues, and I think your overall performance will suffer.
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