Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Behind the Scenes of Tongue Talk

Greetings readers!

Although this isn't a choral related post, it is definitely a music related post. Recently, in my faculty, they posted a Rehabilitation Medicine Video Contest and I thought it would be fun if some classmates and I made a video for it. I suggested the idea to a few friends to do something like a music video or rap detailing what exactly Speech-Language Pathologists do and they were eager to participate. Our video didn't cover all the disciplines of Rehabilitation Medicine but we thought it was high time we detailed what Speech Pathologists actually do. We feel that the general public knows more about Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists as a whole and most people still think that Speech Pathologists only correct stuttering.

The project didn't really take off until Candace started brainstorming lyrics to Ke$ha's "Tik Tok" one evening in a Facebook thread and we just went wild from there. I found an instrumental track to "Tik Tok" so we wouldn't have to sing over Ke$ha's vocals and the next few days Salima and Candace figured out the lyrics, we went to Fabricland to purchase foam and pink material to make a tongue costume, and Candace and Christina developed the dance sequence that appears throughout the video. Then we recorded the song using Garageband that weekend and layered the voice tracks to compose our song. We also scripted out a video recording schedule for the next week since we wanted to recruit members of our class to participate and we also wanted to book time to get into the Speech lab to use the equipment and the soundproof booth.

On Tuesday, we shot all of our Speech lab footage and most of the footage around Corbett Hall, which is the home of the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta campus (it's where we have all our classes and spend most of our time). That same Wednesday we shot all the footage of our class as a whole in the classroom we have most of our classes in and we also taught them the dance sequence. I played the song from my iPhone as we danced on the front lawn of Corbett Hall and recorded the sequence. The next few days we just needed to fill random clips in the video and record the dance sequence in the largest lecture theatre inside Corbett Hall. It's where the Occupational Therapists have most of their classes so we were lucky that it was empty when we decided to film.

The following week was the crazy editing week and Christina did a stellar job. We also had midterms and assignments but I think our fun video project kept us sane. After each day of shooting, Christina was so excited to start working on the footage that after the first day she put together a ton of sequences so we could see the video take shape. We would lose track of the time working on the video since we would start on it after class at 5:30 pm and it would be 9 pm before we knew it! It was meticulous work since we had to splice down the clips and each 0.5 second made a huge difference in the video, especially since we were trying to line up our lips and our dance. I applaud Christina for the amazing job that she did!

We were able to submit our video by the October 15, 2010 deadline and we also screened the video for our class that Friday. From the large amounts of laughter I heard, I think they liked it.

Then we just had to wait. The video had to be screened by a panel of faculty and students before the finalists were chosen to be put on the Rehab Med Youtube Page. We heard back yesterday that we made it into the finals and today the video was uploaded to Youtube. The video with the most views by January 29, 2011 wins $1000 so view the video multiple times and share it with your friends! Often, the Speech students have a reputation for being uninvolved in the Faculty and I hope that this video works to change people's perceptions about us. It was a something we had a lot of fun doing and I hope that people can enjoy the video and maybe learn more about what SLPs do in the process. I just want to say thanks to Christina, Salima, and Candace for being such amazing people to work with! I was often incapacitated with laughter during the filming of this video.

Enjoy the video below!


Wake up in the morning
Feeling like a speechie
Got my classes, got my books
Gonna help this city
When I leave I will have my Master's degree
In SLP, speech-language pathology

I'm talking, talking all day long
Getting my communication on
Finding out what's wrong
We've got a preoccupation
With speech language and communication
Stuttered speech & swallowing
We so ballin'

Don't stop keep it steady
Please say 'ah' when you're ready
Pa ta ka as fast as you can
DDK's are the plan
Tongue depressor and pen light
We'll treat you right

Don't stop, we're not done
SLPs are so much fun
Visipitch, PERCI
are definitely the key
Dear client see this hose
Please put it up your nose

Ain't got a care in the world, but got plenty of peers
I got PTs on my speed dial
And OTs are so near
Now the clients are lining up
Cuz they hear we got skills
Rehab Med's got their backs
Like nobody wills

I'm talking have you had a stroke?
Do you tend to choke?
Is your child talking late?
Call us, don't hesitate
We'll help you get your shout out
That's what we're about
Stutter got you down?
Don't you frown!

Chorus x2

We screen your ears
You raise your hand
Red, Right, Round
Yeah yeah we got this
I put my tongue up
You put your tongue up
You put your tongue up

Disordered voice
and aphasia
I cue your sound
I slide my snake
You slide your snake

Chorus x 2

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Must Have Done Something Right

Greetings readers!

In the past week or so I have been fending off a nasty bug that has been going around but I am glad to say that it is on its way out. I am regaining my voice and resonance but it was one of those cases where I had to let the sickness take its course. I am just glad I didn't have any singing commitments during that time. I'm not sure if any of you have magical remedies for warding off vocal sickness, but if so, leave me your wisdom in the comments section.

In the meantime, I must have done something right for that first Pro Coro concert because I'm officially signed on for three more concerts in their regular season! One this coming November, December, and one in March of the new year. I was ecstatic to make the cut and get some more opportunities to sing with the group!

The November concert will feature male and female choral voices with separate works and there will also be some mixed chorus repertoire. PJ Perry is also playing some improv saxophone with the group. I've never really sung with a saxophonist so it will definitely be a new experience for me. I am always in awe of improv musicians since my anal-retentive choral upbringing makes it hard for me to stray musically from the page, however, I'm always looking for more way to expand my musical horizons. I start rehearsals for the November concert next week.

The December concert is their traditional Christmas concert which, as the website informs me, will have: "Old and new festive music and audience participation." I can hear the audience carols already. I'm slightly wary of December already since I'll still be singing with Belle Canto, I'll be doing carolings gigs, Pro Coro has a full set of rehearsals, I'll also be working another retail part-time job as well as finishing up my coursework and finals for my Master's program. No matter. I always get it done in the end and I like feeling productive! Stressing about it in October really isn't going to help me :)

Their March concert is a special one for Pro Coro since it is a celebration of their 3oth season. The original Pro Coro founder, Michel Gervais, will be coming back to conduct the Founder's Concert and I just find it extremely impressive that this group was formed back in 1980! It's not easy to develop, fund, and sustain a professional choir in Alberta but Pro Coro has managed to do it and the arts culture in Edmonton has benefited greatly from the investment.

Therefore, I hope to be posting regular rehearsal entries starting again next week when my voice is functioning again. However, if I'm sounding better by this weekend, I'm hoping to start working on my Virtual Choir submission. I have a new Blue microphone and I've been dying to try it out.

Until next time, take care!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sing With Me! The Virtual Choir Project

Greetings readers!

If you haven't already heard the buzz around choral cyber space... Eric Whitacre has begun his second Virtual Choir project. I completely missed the boat the first time around and I definitely am not going to let it happen again this time!

His blog outlines the steps but allow me to provide a summary:
  • Pick a part (SATB) to his composition, Sleep
  • Sign-up with your e-mail address
  • Download the sheet music
  • Watch his handy dandy instructional Youtube video on how he wants it performed
  • Learn the music (it's pretty straightforward, lots of sustained vowels) but you can always listen to the song via the virtual music player on his website if you learn best by ear
  • Video & audio record yourself singing that part (wearing black) while watching Mr. Whitacre (with his Harlequin Romance good looks) conducting the track
  • Upload the video to Youtube
  • VoilĂ ! You're a part of the virtual choir!
Of course, Whitacre and his team (thanks Tony!) do go through the videos and they're trying to get at least 900 people to set a world record. Make sure to have your entry in before December 31, 2010. Set aside your insecurities about your voice, your age, your choral skill level and whatever else might be holding you back and just take this opportunity to be a part of something truly amazing and unique!

I just think this whole project is extremely exiting! It is a project to connect voices through social media! How often do we all get the chance to sing together? I would love to sing with all my blog readers and this virtual choir is the perfect opportunity for that to happen. They also have a cool google earth application that maps where all the singers have come from! Thus, I urge you to take the time to sign up and record yourself. We can be united in a virtual choir with 900+ other voices and create some beautiful music while doing it.

I'm hoping to get my entry up soon. I'm currently trying to locate/purchase a better microphone than the one built into my laptop.

To learn more check out this video!

I hope to be singing with you all in the near future!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Making the Cut


Sorry for the delayed update! Strangely enough, I thought that by joining another choir I would have so much more to blog about, and I do, but I greatly underestimated the amount of time it would take! The past few weeks have been a haze of rehearsals and schoolwork. I spend my days 9-530 pm in class and then I have a bit of time before rehearsal starts at 7 pm. I had up to 4 rehearsals a week and I definitely could feel my body fatigue to the amount of rehearsal and mental intensity that was required of me. I applaud the stamina of all musicians!

However, these rehearsals culminated to the concert I had with Pro Coro today. Everything went pretty smoothly, minus the fact that I slipped coming down a step and almost wiped out on stage! I was not being very careful walking down the polished wooden steps and I even thought to myself "I'm so going to slip on this step" and I did. The heard the audience gasp but I didn't actually fall so much as slip and then bounce back up to regain my footing. No damage done and I smirked at the fact that for my first professional choral experience I almost wiped out on stage. Classic!

During the past few weeks, I mainly focused on learning the notes and fitting my lines in with the other musical parts. However, I really wanted to focus on watching the conductor more for this concert. I find it difficult to watch the small nuances of the conductor when I'm still relying on the music heavily for notes and rhythms. However, that is the reality of a working choir, you never work on pieces long enough for them to become apart of you. Just when you start get comfortable with it to try some new things... it's time for the concert and time to move on to the next set of repertoire.

One thing that was really nice though was the personal acknowledgment from the choristers around me. It's something that they didn't have to do but it was nice that they did considering I was a new member. I always thought I would work past the stage of outsider awkwardness but it seems like that feeling of otherness never dissipates when you enter new environments. I was taken aback when the tenor standing behind me, who also happens to be the associate conductor, remarked that I was singing very well and I was taken aback at the fact that he could hear me. My sheet music is an extremely powerful sound reflector!
Also, today during the quick run-through time before the concert, a soprano standing a person away from me turned to me after we finished running a section, introduced herself, asked me my name, and remarked on my lyrical performance of the text. That was nice of her!

It kind of sounds self-absorbed but I rarely hear vocal praise anymore. I just assume what I am doing is acceptable but it's been years since anybody has said anything about it to me. I do have to say, it's nice to be recognized and it was also nice to know that other people could hear my efforts to meet the high standards of the group. Upon being accepted into the group, I felt this overwhelming need to deliver when I signed my contract, and though I was in no ways perfect during the concert, I really felt like I was contributing my voice to the overall choral sound.

Overall, I'm glad I had this experience. It was a steep learning curve but I am extremely impressed with the kind of musical quality I was able to produce in only 7 rehearsals. I'm not sure how many other concerts I will be singing with Pro Coro but I'm guessing I will find out soon enough. I have a feeling this concert was testing out of the sound of a lot of the new choristers. We'll see if I make the cut!

Until next time, take care!