southern-fried-soprano-baby-cold-outside

Baby, It’s Cold Inside (My House)

5th December 2016

southern-fried-soprano-baby-cold-outside

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

While I’m sure that chestnuts are roasting on an open fire somewhere, here in Wichita, Kansas, yours truly has Jack Frost nipping at her nose in her ground-level apartment. It’s chilly in here, y’all. And before you ask, the thermostat is set at 70, so.. it’s not like I’m trying to save (frozen) pennies. I just get cold easily, apparently.

I seem to be doing better than last year, though! Progress! I swore that this year, the year of our Lord 2016, I would not be wearing two sets of pajama pants, two sets of socks, a shirt, and a hoodie (zipped up, duh) to bed… to sleep under my four (count ’em, FOUR) blankets.

I told you I get cold.

I did myself a huge favor and moved my bed from under the window in my bedroom. My highly scientific observation (re: singer paranoia and anecdotal evidence) is that this keeps me from Drafty Winds™. It seems to be working well so far–while I’m still wearing a light sweater and slipper socks to bed, I haven’t felt the need to Suit Up™ to do what normal humans do for 6-7 hours a night. I also got a rearranged room out of the bargain, which has just got to be good for my psyche or something.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, Y’ALL.

Y’all know I love seasonal things, so I’m trying to slow down and savor this holiday season as much as I possibly can. I felt super cheated out of fall this year (singer scheduling can be a beast, man), despite consuming practically every pumpkin-related thing in my immediate (and not-so-immediate) vicinity.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the mess of parties, gift exchanges, concerts, and last-minute get-togethers. Get on Pinterest (here’s my Christmas Pinterest board) and lose yourself in the recipes, the gift ideas.. It’s easy to forget just how much we need to stop and pay attention to what’s going on around us.

Things are pretty bleak in the world right now–and they have been for awhile, honestly. It feels like the ugliness of humanity has just been bubbling under the surface for quite some time, and it has taken some recent current events to make a lot of us acutely aware of it.

It’s almost like this season–this holiday season–is coming at just the right time. We need a little goodness and cheer right now. I don’t think the world needs another Dirty Santa gift exchange, but it sure could use a few friends or coworkers coming together and laughing and sharing. It could use a few more book and toy drives, people taking time to donate food for holiday dinners.. it could use a lot of those things year-round, really. It’s a shame that it takes us until November or so to start acting like we care about our fellow human beings.

My friends laugh at me because I decorate my voice studio office door for the holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, various December holidays…). I laugh, too. I buy things from the discount store and hang them up on the walls. I wear silly hats.

But I don’t know.. maybe there’s something more to it, for me. I tell my students all the time that you’ve got to have something silly in your life.. something silly, something that no one can take away from you. Something you can turn to when things are tiring or frustrating.

Me? During this time of year, when I smell cinnamon and apples and fresh pine needles, when I drink hot cider, when I can admire lights on houses.. when people seem to care just a little bit more about each other, when I find the perfect little gift for a friend or family member..

It never really seems cold in my house at all.

Southern Fried Soprano: It's November

It’s November, Y’all

1st November 2016

Southern Fried Soprano: It's November

Can I be honest with y’all? I know I can, because you’re my Invisible Internet Audience™, which means I can always talk to you.

It’s November. Yes. Which means it’s been.. a hot second since my last post. (For those of you playing at home, my most recent update was in May.) I didn’t write a single word over the summer.

Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t think about writing. I definitely thought about it. There were times over the summer when all I wanted to do was scream from the top of my lungs about the things I was experiencing and feeling–things that I haven’t felt or experienced for a long while, and things I don’t really wish for anyone to feel or experience any time soon.

What I should have done was take out my personal diary and write those things down. Process those things fully but privately–in a way that still made me feel like I was telling someone but not, you know, telling someone (like my Invisible Internet Audience™).

But I didn’t do that either, honestly. I did, however, talk to some really cherished friends and family members (y’all know who you are, shout out to you), who put up with me despite my endless talking in circles (I kind of feel like I’m doing that right now?).

Instead of processing my feelings like a mature human being, I took a lot of bubble baths and watched more than my fair share of bad court television. I told you I was good at wallowing.

Anyway.

This is all to say that the past few months have been difficult, but ultimately good. Hard, but necessary. Refining, in a way.

The last few months have tested me; they have asked questions that I am not sure I can answer now (or maybe ever!). … which reminds me!

I first learned about Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet during my summer at Arkansas Governor’s School. Rilke’s advice is not just for artists; it rings true for anyone who’s a member of the great mass of humanity. I walked into my Area II class (thanks, Bryan Cwik [now Ph.D! man, tempus fugit] with this quote on the chalkboard:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

I learned a lot of things from Bryan Cwik’s Area II class, but this is probably the thing that has changed my life the most. I picked up a copy of Rilke’s letters and devoured it. I return to his words again and again when I need inspiration, comfort, or guidance. Excerpts are posted on the door to my voice studio so my students can read them.

This seems to be one of those times when I needed to read Rilke’s words again.

I am, perhaps gradually, without noticing it, living along these distant days since my last post into the answers that the questions of this summer asked of me.

In short, it’s good to be back. I’m glad you’re still here, Invisible Internet Audience™.

 

4 Things Grad School Taught Me

4 Unexpected Things My First Year of Grad School Taught Me

16th May 2016

4 Things Grad School Taught Me

If this post is published, it means I have finished my first year of my graduate degree in opera performance!

Where does the time go? (Although–since I’m taking things 10 minutes at a time, I’m all-too-aware of just how fast it can go!)

I could write a retrospective post on all the musical or academic things I’ve learned since I arrived in Wichita and began classes, but… I think I’d like to share a few unexpected things I’ve learned.

If you already know these things, congratulations to you! I am but a Helpless Grub™.

Without further ado, I present to you:

4 Things My First Year of Grad School Taught Me

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Change Your Life in Ten Minutes

How I Changed My Life in 10 Minutes

29th April 2016

Change Your Life in Ten Minutes Have you ever wanted to be great at something?

Okay, maybe that’s a stupid question. Of course you have. Whether you’re a singer like me or an aspiring underwater basket-weaver, you probably have something you’ve wanted to get really, really good at doing. Something you love that you want to master.

In case you haven’t caught on by now (or this is your first time visiting my blog, in which case, my most sincere apologies and HOWDY AND WELCOME), I love singing. It’s not only my career but also my deepest passion. I want to become a great singer. I will settle for nothing less than greatness.

The thing that super-duper sucks, though? The process of becoming great at anything (singing included) is, well..  often not so great.

When I was in undergrad, I spent a lot of time in the practice room. I mean a lot of time. An ungodly amount of time. We’re talking four to five hours at a time.

I know what you’re thinking. “But Georgeanne! That’s great! What a blessing it is to sit in a practice room and just work on your craft! Didn’t Malcolm Gladwell say that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master at anything? Think of all the time you put in!”.

And yeah, sure. I spent like, a lot of time in a practice room…. staring at the piano. Staring at my music. Singing through my music from beginning to end over and over and over. Avoiding singing because I hated the sounds that were coming out of my mouth. Hating myself. Hating that I couldn’t walk into that room with a new piece and come out two hours later with it learned and technically perfect. I wanted to be great.

I wanted to be great right now.

I started to dread going to practice. Which, if you’re a singer.. is not such a good thing.

This is the part of the blog where I skip ahead a few years and hit you with some magic wisdom. I graduated in 2013. It’s now 2016. Do the math (I’m really bad at math, but I think that’s three years).

I’ve stopped spending entire afternoons in practice rooms drowning in a delightful combination of self-loathing and desperation.  I don’t dread going to practice. I look forward to it.

I’ve started to take things ten minutes at a time. And I guarantee you I’m a better singer than I ever would be if I spent five hours stretches in the practice room.

I’ve learned over the last few years that no matter how overwhelming a task may be, what gets it done is small, small steps. Climbing a mountain is not achieved by reaching the pinnacle–it’s achieved by the how-ever-many-steps you took to get to the top.

When I walk into a practice room or sit down to practice in my apartment (what’s up upstairs neighbors, you’re welcome, I’m not charging), I set a timer for ten minutes. I also set my intention for those ten minutes: “okay, I’m going to work [these measures] of [this song].” “For ten minutes, I will really work on some agility exercises to strengthen my coloratura.”

No matter how tired, discouraged, or frustrated I am–no matter how overwhelming a task may be, I can always give ten minutes of focused, intentional effort. And then maybe I can give ten more minutes. And ten more minutes. And before I know it, an hour has gone by, I’ve sung through all my repertoire or sung some difficult technical exercises.

There’s not enough time in ten minutes to let fear take over. Ten minutes is a decidedly non-scary amount of time. It’s long enough to get something done, yet short enough to make things seem manageable. When that timer goes off, if I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown because I still can’t float that high Bb the way I want to.. I move on to something else.

Do I expect to become great in ten minutes? No. Not a chance! And that’s part of the magic. You can’t go from decent to great in ten minutes. But those ten minute chunks of practice add up. I see the ten minute blocks add up in my practice journal, day after day.

How do I know it’s working? My teachers, coaches, and peers can tell. I can tell when I listen to my recordings. I haven’t become Maria Callas overnight (if and when I figure that out, I am certainly not telling y’all that little secret), but I’m definitely ten minutes closer to greatness.

Those ten minute chunks remind me that I’m taking steps every day to the top of the mountain.

So, dear reader, tell me.

What could you spend ten minutes doing today? What’s something you want to get good at doing? Can you set a timer and work for ten minutes on that thing?

I bet you can. You’ll come away from those ten minutes knowing your life has changed just a little bit.

Start the timer. The clock is ticking.


Once your work session is up, take a well-deserved break with a time-themed playlist!

Fairport Convention – Who Knows Where The Time Goes?
Rolling Stones – Time Is On My Side
Chicago – Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella – Ten Minutes Ago
Ke$ha – TiK ToK
Jason Robert Brown’s The Last 5 Years – The Next Ten Minutes

midweek reads

Midweek Reads // 2

26th April 2016

midweek reads

Isn’t it strange that when we seem to have… a lot of time on our hands, we can’t find anything to do?

It’s a stormy evening here in Kansas–so stormy, in fact, they closed my school at noon. Whoa! On any given day, I’m not home until at least 6PM, so if you give me five hours of unexpected free time.. I’m not really sure what to do with them? Ironic, considering I’ve got lists upon lists of uncompleted tasks and things to get done.

Sometimes, the only thing to do is take a cue from the universe and chill. So here I am! Chilling.

I’m using a little bit of this free evening to go through the things I’ve “saved to read later” on Facebook and Pocket. What have I been digging on the Internet lately? Here’s my second edition (almost a year later, haha) of Midweek Reads:

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Southern Fried Soprano - Calm Before the Storm

Calm Before the Storm

20th March 2016

Southern Fried Soprano - Calm Before the Storm

 

It’s quiet. Too quiet.

Or, rather, it’s just quiet enough. I am soaking up every last drop of stillness, as I’m not going to get a lot of peace and quiet over the next two weeks.

This coming week is Holy Week, so when I’m not teaching lessons, in class, or in rehearsals for the opera (or, God forbid, practicing), you can probably find me downtown at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, singing in a service.

The week after Easter? It’s TECH WEEK for Les Indes Galantes at Wichita State University. I’ll be in show mode.

So, yeah. Thank goodness I have had the past seven days of Spring Break to relax and gear up for the inevitable storm. Since I’ve been out of the school game for a couple of years, I had forgotten how cool Spring Break actually was.

I’m pretty pleased with how I spent my break, all in all. It was a good mix of Bruno Mars “The Lazy Song” and productivity. I hung out with friends, watched a lot of basketball, petted my dog, slept in without an alarm… but I also started a new practice regimen for the remainder of March (#NoMercyMarch) and cleaned my apartment.

I know there’s not going to be much wiggle room these next two weeks, so I prepped all of my lunches and dinners for the week.. I got my grocery shopping done, my house cleaned, my floors vacuumed, and, perhaps most impressive of all, I did all of my laundry so I’m not a low-key Pig Pen from Peanuts.

Has it been the most exciting and scandalous way to spend my final day of Spring Break? No. Of course not. But, you know, while I maintain that being a singer is super glamorous, what’s even more glamorous is not worrying about having lunch made for the next day. The most glamorous thing?

Having clean underwear.

So, if you don’t mind, I’ll sit back, relax, and enjoy the last few minutes of quiet I can get. How do you prepare for busy times?

Southern Fried Soprano // The Week That Was 6

The Week That Was // 6

21st February 2016

Southern Fried Soprano // The Week That Was 6

I might actually be the worst blogger ever. “Surely I can manage one post a week,” I said. Surely. Turns out that’s harder than I thought. WELL, WHATEVER Y’ALL, HERE I AM NOW. Here’s what I’ve been up to over the past week:

// things i did //

  • enjoyed a delicious frozen sangria swirl margarita whilst celebrating my dear friend Nick’s birthday
  • sang 3 church services on Valentine’s Day
  • ate a (surprise!) heart-shaped pizza
  • worked the first round of graduate voice auditions at Wichita State University
  • went to a senior recital and a graduate recital (both of which were very good!)
  • watched my friend Geoffrey play a life-size game of Jenga
  • burst into happy tears in a voice lesson
  • unexpectedly matched a bunch of my cast mates, our conductor, and our rehearsal pianist in rehearsal for the opera

// things i learned & loved //

// things i’m working on musically //

  • Handel’s Dixit Dominus (HWV 232) with the Wichita State University Concert Chorale (PS: I’m one of a gaggle of soloists)
  • I brought “Ain’t it a pretty night?” back out of the recesses of my repertoire binder and sang it for the first time following a 75 pound weight loss. There’s a lot of work to do, y’all!
  • Rameau’s Les Indes Galantes, which I’ll be appearing in at WSU in the role of Zaïre

// things i’m looking forward to next week //

  • getting my Fiordiligi on in my friend and studio mate Alyssa’s senior recital on Wednesday!
  • RECITALS GALORE!
  • working another round of graduate voice auditions on the 27th

What are you up to this coming week?

February Goals

February Goals

31st January 2016

February Goals

Surprise, y’all! It’s 2016, can you believe it?

Part of me is a little surprised I didn’t inundate y’all in January with posts about my goals for this year. I’m constantly making lists, doodling in my planner, ticking off check boxes.. and my planning for the year ahead usually comes in December of the year before!

This past December, though, I was a lot more introspective about the things I want to accomplish in 2016. Last year, I wasn’t in school, and so the world seemed pretty purpose-barren, if you catch my drift. I definitely was doing things, but my instinct was to Create an Endless List of Things to Do™ so that I didn’t feel I was wasting my life away waiting for something to happen.

Now? I’m in grad school! I am very busy! I have things to do! People to see! Classes to attend! Rehearsals! Teaching! …. Snacking! Snacking to do. That’s probably the most important one, right? Definitely not practicing…

Anyway, the point is that I’m trying to simplify things a little for Good Old Georgie™. My to-do list is already pretty long without me adding to it. I’m stressed enough without me making more things to be stressed about.

I want to do things because I want to do things, not because I have to do things so I can blog about doing things.

But! It’s February and I’ve still got a few pet projects and miscellaneous tasks I’d like to get done in addition to all of the stuff I’m Required to Do. So, without further babble:

February Goals

  1. Blog once a week.

    Did y’all know I have a blog? If you didn’t, I don’t blame you–it’s not like I have written in it. There’s a lot of cool things happening in my life and I want to share them. So why am I not? Because I’m.. a dinkus? Lazy? I don’t know. Probably overwhelmed.

    Regardless, I think this goal is totally doable. And since I wrote about it on the Internet, I’ll do it, because in addition to being a dinkus, I also am prideful and don’t want to fail. So.

    It also goes without saying that I’ve missed the community of my fellow bloggers–and especially the folks at Arkansas Women Bloggers.

  2. Make four new recipes.

    I’ve been on a bit of a wonky, inflexible (I don’t want to use the word restricting) diet this January and I am so looking forward to breaking open my cookbooks again and making some good food. With rehearsals and classes and teaching and life, I don’t think I want to commit to making one new thing a week, but I guess with the whole “four” thing it averages out to that. I have a feeling one week I’ll double up or something (probably Valentine’s Day–I’m finally getting a pantry with like, THINGS I CAN USE TO BAKE???).

  3. Read two books.

    I currently have 20 books checked out of the library. I am reading about 5 of them currently. Basically, this one should be easy.

Ta-da! There you have it, folks. There’s a lot of other stuff that’s going to go down this coming month, so get ready. See y’all soon!

Do you have any goals for February? Share them with me!