Each year, close to 100 flutists at the high school level try out to be in district band and orchestra. It’s a long process, where students get their music in May and audition in December. They audition on scales and a college-level piece of music. This year, Marissa Duggan, Jacey Crayton and Michele Arnold made it in. Jacey even had the honor of achieving first chair in band! The top 8 students get to try out for district orchestra, so Jacey made principal flute in that, as well! Congrats to all 3 outstanding flutists, for their hard work!
Do you ever wonder why the oboe tunes the orchestra?! In the late 1600s, orchestras were comprised of mostly string instruments. Two oboes were sometimes used to boost the first and second violin parts. Soon composers were writing separate parts for the oboe, showing off its beautiful singing tone as a contrast to the violins. The bright, rather penetrating sound of the oboe was easy to hear, and its pitch was more stable than gut strings, so it was the obvious choice for reliable tuning. Other instruments were used in on occasion in the orchestra at that time – flutes, bassoons, French horns, clarinets – before its instrumentation became relatively standardized as we know it today. But oboes were almost always present, so they became the standard instrument for tuning.
Orchestras always tune to ‘A’, because every string instrument has an ‘A’ string. The standard pitch in the United States is A=440 Hertz (440 vibrations per second). European orchestras favor a slightly higher pitch – A=442 or higher.
Now here is a little known secret that the audience may not know – oboes can play sharp or flat, just like any other instrument, but every oboist uses a little electronic meter to ensure that their ‘A’ is exactly right.
Here are some tips I have learned for maintaining a healthy voice, especially over the winter months! :
- Stay hydrated! This is crucial for maintaining healthy vocal cords and a healthy overall body.
- Don’t overuse your voice when you are sick. If you can, avoid speaking whenever possible. Don’t whisper, this is horrible for your voice!
- Get plenty of rest. 6-8 hours a night is best for most people, only you know your body. Listen to it!
- Eat a variety of colorful foods (Fruit Loops do not count!) Most fruits and veggies are wonderful for your body, and some can help you fight inflammation and promote healing.
- I recommend drinking warm water with honey. Throat Coat tea is wonderful as well, but is more expensive.
- Here is an exercise you can do to help raspiness/hoarseness: blow through a straw into a glass of water (just like you used to blow bubbles into chocolate milk when you were little!) This helps your vocal cords relax and is also a good diaphragmatic exercise.
- Speaking of exercise, try to keep your body healthy by exercising regularly. It is good for your mind and your body. Do things you enjoy, and exercise with a friend if you need someone to help keep you motivated. Meditation is also wonderful for your body and can help you be more relaxed as well as help with your breathing.
- Take a steamed shower to help your vocal cords relax and to moisten mucous membranes when you are sick (or run your shower on hot and sit in your bathroom and breathe in the steam, just like a sauna!)
- Warm up AND cool down your voice before performing. Humming is a wonderful way to start warming up your voice in the morning and is also good for cooling down your voice if you aren’t able to fully sing your warm-ups.
- Find throat sprays/lozenges/natural remedies that work for you. Everyone is different!
- Avoid irritants like alcohol, smoking, and caffeine. If you are like me and have a cup of coffee or another form of soda once in a while, make sure you re-hydrate with water to compensate. Caffeine is a diuretic.
- Be smart with your voice. As I stated before, whispering is horrible for your voice. Avoid it if you can! Yelling and screaming should be avoided as well. Do not push yourself to sing if pain is present. Don’t forget to warm up before singing!
These thoughts have been brought to you by my own personal collection and also with the help of Meagan Earls in her article 15 Tips for Singing While Sick. You know your body the best out of everyone, so take good care of your body and your voice. It is the only one you have!
Hey there, Cora here!
Sometimes in lessons, we need to take a break from what we’re working on and try something completely different. This could be because we are stressed about a current project or maybe because of art block! Sometimes we are just yearning for an extra special project! When that happens I pull out a ball of yarn or the trusty sewing machine and we learn a quick new skill that many of my students have never tried before.
These simple and often easy projects are great ways to introduce new skills to students of all ages, practice patience and attention to detail, and help boost confidence and pride in their work. I have taught students the basics of crochet and helped them to make a simple hat and scarf. We have learned about the tools used, types of yarn, two or three stitches, and even completed a simple project all in the span of an hour. We have also learned to thread and straight stich on a sewing machine in order to make a little purse, as well as how to hand stitch embellishments to our finished project.
Whether we use yarn or fabric, students are proud of their projects and can’t wait to tell everything they learned. The following week, we are ready to tackle the problem piece with new eyes and start new projects with the experience from learning our new skills.
Hello! Heather here. In addition to teaching piano, I also love to teach about songwriting! As a songwriter myself, I’ve released several albums of original work over the last twelve years and I’ve discovered that sharing the craft of songwriting with my students can add a whole new dimension to their musicianship (along with being fun and deeply rewarding!)
Last year I taught a Songwriting I and II course here at The Perfect 5th with our guitar instructor Justin Clauser and it was a blast. We worked with songwriters of all levels to cover song structure and analysis, lyric writing, the music theory behind choosing chords and writing melodies, and even recording techniques. I’ve also taught lyric writing workshops throughout central Pennsylvania, and I have a few private students who work with me primarily as a songwriting coach.
If you have a desire to express yourself with your own words and music but don’t know where to start, consider scheduling a free consultation for a songwriting lesson! I can work with songwriters of all levels, whether you are just starting out or are a seasoned songwriter who wants tips and challenges for strengthening and improving your body of work. Whether you already play guitar, piano, or bass, or need to learn basic chords to accompany your song ideas, I can help!
Call the Perfect 5th (www.theperfect5th.com) at 717-691-9100 and leave a message for me if you’d like more information!