Performance Anxiety is a Real Thing

Mary Ann Coggins Kaza, Donnell Plumlee, Laura Handke

I’ve been teaching at Lake Music, not just in my home studio, since last August. Lake Music’s second recital this year was Saturday, October 26th. Seven of my students, four voice and three piano students, had originally signed up to perform.

Now, the word “perform” is a bit of a stretch for a recital. This is not an audition or professional production, just an opportunity to stretch and show off what you’ve learned so far with supportive family members and friends in the audience.

Yet it can feel like a performance, as I remember from my childhood piano recitals and early vocal performances in church and school. And…not that long ago…when I auditioned for a musical for the first time in 20 years.

It can be freakin’ terrifying…especially sharing your voice in a solo singing performance. For me, having not jumped out of an airplane, or been diagnosed with a potentially fatal illness, solo singing is the scariest thing I’ve done. Perhaps even scarier than leaving a job when I had no money in the bank because I knew I needed to complete my vocal training with the Transformational Voice® Training Institute, and I was forced to make a choice.

Lina Chang

How crazy is this? That the thought of singing in front of other people can wreak so much mental havoc we might as well be about to cross a railroad track in front of an oncoming train. Can you see the headlight? Hear that whistle blowng? Feel all that fog rolling up and around? I sure can. (Hmm…do I watch too many movies? Maybe I’ve sung Folsom Prison Blues one too many times.)

The fear of public speaking (without even adding singing to the mix) is consistently – in study after study, year after year – in the top three fears of most people, along with death and height-related fears, like falling or crashing in a plane. I read somewhere that certain insects/bugs are close in the mix as well.

Allow me to laugh about this for a minute. God, please make sure the flight attendant doesn’t hand me a glass of tomato juice with a spider on it, while he forces me to give a speech as the plane is crashing.

Okay, that wasn’t very funny. I tried.

Because solo singing (not speaking so much) has been one of my big fears, I can relate.

I’m getting over it, and so can you. It starts in the brain, impacts the body, and you can re-reprogram the brain.

Two of my voice students backed out of the recital because they were afraid of performing. And they were two of my strongest students, in different ways. Another spaced it because of competing family priorities. The one who did get up and sing sounded fantastic and empowered herself. I was so proud of Chloe. (By the way, I made a mistake while accompanying her on the piano to Scarborough Fair; I wasn’t perfect!)

I asked Chloe if she felt good about her singing afterwards, and she did. Her family was there supporting her with a bunch of congratulatory orange/peach colored roses, taking family photos.

Chloe Baker

Performance anxiety will lessen once you perform, in a safe environment, just a few times. And I happen to have this very cool MP3 file (I didn’t create it) that helped lessen my performance anxiety.

Yet it all starts with the breath…being able to breathe with a relaxed core so your belly goes out when you inhale, and your breath is carrying the sound of your beautiful voice.

If you’re fearful about speaking or singing in public, know it’s natural and there are ways you can move forward and express your inner voice in the outer world.

Karma Bradley and Mark Kellogg
Shelly Zhuge
Donn Skrivanek

Love Your Voice and Voice Your Love,

Laura

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

Workshop Magic

As much as I love teaching private voice students…and I do thrill as my individual students grow and excel…there is something magical about group workshops.

For when two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. -Matthew 18:20, the Bible, English Translations

This Bible quote is, of course, credited to Jesus of Nazareth.

Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, expounded on the value of master mind groups, which he defined thus: The coordination of knowledge and effort, of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony. (I, personally, often use the term wish-weaving interchangeably with masterminding.)

Is it possible the disciples were Jesus Christ’s mastermind/wish-weaver group? I think so.

I’ve led, or been a part of, way too many wish-weaving circles and voice classes to ignore the potency of this group dynamic. People learn more quickly. Ideas are generated and exchanged for more facile solutions. Sometimes lasting connections are formed in the built-in community.

Jesus and Napoleon were onto something.

If you’d like to celebrate your authentic voice in this kind of collaborative community, come to Four Vocal Superpowers Most Pros Don’t Know November 2nd.

Register by emailing info@laurahandke.com.

If you’re in the neighborhood, know you’re also invited to Lake Music’s recital at Lakewood Theatre this coming Saturday, October 26th, from 1:00-4:00! Several of yours truly’s voice and piano students will be showing off their talent and skills.

In the meantime, love your voice and voice your love,

Laura

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Within the first couple of lessons with vocal coach Laura Handke, I learned to use my voice in a more powerful way using the breathing and resonance techniques she teaches. She is always pleasant and upbeat, which helps me to relax as I learn.  I would recommend her to anyone who wants to take their vocal expression to the next level. Thank you, Laura! –Mary Jo H.  

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

What is Vocal Fry and How Can You Avoid It?

One seemingly normal Friday afternoon (insert your favorite movie trailer narrator here) an insidious, ravenous siege swept the nation.

Within minutes, everyone was croaking, choking and barely able to…

Will you please complete that sentence after watching this video about Vocal Fry?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abjdsJAIUf4

Do you want to commit to the amazing authentic voice already within you?

Here’s a great way to do it!

Four Vocal Superpowers Most Pros Don’t Know

Learn to:

  • Harness the power of the Breath to create maximum vocal impact without weakening your voice or your throat getting hoarse.
  • Avoid harsh Onsets, which can cause damage to the vocal cords. (Internationally renowned pop singer, Adele, had to have vocal cord surgery due to this issue, not once, but twice.)
  • Create vocal Resonance, so your voice carries to the back of room without a microphone, and without pushing or straining your voice.
  • Speak in your natural, authentic Pitch to avert vocal fry.

November 2, Saturday, 1:00-4:00 pm In Partnership with Brenda Bryan and The Speakers Club

Swaha Studios

1235 SE Division St. Ste. 107

Portland, OR 97202

Register by emailing info@laurahandke.com.

In the meantime, love your voice and voice your love,

Laura

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

In only a few lessons with Laura, my voice quality improved tremendously, both for singing and speaking. I’m noticing more resonance, clarity, and range. Laura has a great ear, and her teaching and coaching style feels safe, friendly and professional. She is supportive and stretches me. Her acting, singing, and speaking backgrounds blend beautifully to support presence and confidence in her students, as well. I’m excited to continue with her, and highly recommend her if you want to improve your voice. –Cricket W., MD

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

This is Personal

I have two upcoming vocal workshops I’m excited to tell you about, but this post is personal.

I got married!!!

I have a husband!!!

I’m a wife!!!

Okay, I’ll stop with all the exclamation points.

Or not!!!!!!!!!

George and I have been in a committed, loving relationship for seven years, but it still feels weird to say those two little words. My husband.

The ceremony was short, sweet and simple, planned just a little over two weeks ahead of time.

Still, getting married is a big deal, so I wanted to share our big news and a little bit of our story.

In September of 2010, I started a new full-time job as a Sr. Claims Examiner, while I was completing apprentice teacher training with the Transformational Voice® Training Institute. I was at the studio three nights a week after the day job, doing homework and rehearsing, and dating was the last thing on my mind. I didn’t have the time, and besides…as my marriage of 12 years was ending in 2006…I swore I’d never get married again. (Oddly enough, my new husband was also married once before, in 1994, and divorced in 2006.)

My back, especially around the left shoulder blade area, was bothering me as I was sitting at a computer again for hours a day. It became almost intolerable one day. I had left my previous chiropractor and massage therapist in Salem behind when I moved to Lake Oswego after my divorce. And I had just moved into a new apartment, with a chiropractic clinic right across the street.

I searched my mind trying to remember the name of the chiropractic clinic and thankfully found it online. I called and was told Licensed Massage Therapist George had an appointment available at 5:30. I booked that appointment, and my back was so grateful I did. The owner of the clinic also became my new chiropractor.

For a year and four months, about once a month, I was typically George’s last client of the day, after I’d finished adjusting claims at the office and my body at Curves gym. I’d show up in gym shorts and a T-shirt, and George’s massage would make me feel better. When I was getting ready to go home, he was closing the clinic after the doctor and other staff had left.

We got to talking…George behind the reception desk, me standing in the lobby. We became friends. He told me about local bands he liked, and we became on friends on Facebook so I could check out some of the music he suggested. It turned out we were also neighbors, living just half a block away from each other.

Fast-forward several months. The TVTI graduation ceremony was complete and I had more free time. I hadn’t been in for a massage in a while, and it was around the time of the grand slam tennis events, which came up in conversation towards the end of my massage. I used to love to bat a ball around (I’m terrible at it, but it’s fun and good exercise) and mentioned that to George. He said he had a tennis racquet somewhere.

He flew at the Washington State International Kite Festival while I celebrated my 48th birthday with friends Lorinda and Richard. After George returned from the festival, I received a message that he’d located his tennis racquet.

And that’s how it started.

George had never dated a client and was cautious in his approach. I was just excited to have a tennis buddy again!

We first walked to the tennis court together on September 4, 2012. I thought we were just tennis buddies, until I got an invitation to the Saturday Market. Then I realized my tennis friend might be asking me out on a date.

This is the story we included as part of our wedding ceremony:

L: It all started with a walk to the tennis court

G: Sometimes when you first meet someone, and you feel that energetic connection

L: Your heart starts to show itself

G: So, I took her downtown to Saturday Market and to see the Church of Elvis, which wasn’t really a church

L: Before we got the Moroccan chicken seasoning packet that would soon cement our relationship, and we saw the dragon boat races

G: Somewhere along the way, we realized we spoke the same language

L: And looked at the world through similar eyes, so I asked him to help me hang a sarong on my wall

G: And we made plans for that Moroccan chicken dinner

Both: That was seven years ago today and I’ve loved you more every day since, Baby.

We decided to get married before our trip to South Dakota to visit my family late September and had already made plans to visit our dear friends Kathie and Rod over the night of September 14th. They live in the country, 30 miles from the Oregon coast. After they agreed to host our wedding and be our witnesses, we realized the date was exactly seven years after we’d committed to each other; 10 days after that first walk to the tennis court.

Here we are with Kathie and Rod and Rev Susan Dorn. Photographer Debbie is an old friend of George’s who happened to be available at just the right time, and brought her granddaughter, Gabby.

My favorite florist gifted me with the orchids in my hair.

Each person was integral to our sweet, short, simple and meaningful ceremony. (Which is what I would recommend to younger people getting married, too, by the way. )

I had fun getting married, and I hope you’ve had fun reading about it.

From your voice (and piano) teacher,

Mrs. Laura Lee Handke,

Married to Mr. George Edward Meredith

TWO UPCOMING WORKSHOPS:

October 5, Saturday, 2:00-4:00 pm

Dance with Joy Studios

8051 SE 16th Ave., Portland (Sellwood) OR

Embrace Your Authentic Voice: Four Critical Pillars for Effective and Healthy Vocal Technique

Learn to:

  • Harness the power of the Breath to create maximum vocal impact without weakening your voice or your throat getting hoarse.
  • Avoid harsh Onsets, which can cause damage to the vocal cords. (Internationally renowned pop singer, Adele, had to have vocal cord surgery due to this issue, not once, but twice.)
  • Create vocal Resonance, so your voice carries to the back of room without a microphone, and without pushing or straining your voice.
  • Speak in your natural, authentic Pitch to avert vocal fry.

Tuition: $25 preregistered/ $30 at the door
Register: support@dancewithjoystudios.com 503-704-5617

November 2, Saturday, 1:00-4:00 pm

In Partnership with Brenda Bryan and The Speakers Club

Location TBA

Four Vocal Superpowers Most Pros Don’t Know

Learn to:

  • Harness the power of the Breath to create maximum vocal impact without weakening your voice or your throat getting hoarse.
  • Avoid harsh Onsets, which can cause damage to the vocal cords. (Internationally renowned pop singer, Adele, had to have vocal cord surgery due to this issue, not once, but twice.)
  • Create vocal Resonance, so your voice carries to the back of room without a microphone, and without pushing or straining your voice.
  • Speak in your natural, authentic Pitch to avert vocal fry.

Tuition: $35/$25 for Speaker Club Members.

Register: brendarbryan@gmail.com

Love your voice and voice your love,

Laura

Within the first couple of lessons with vocal coach Laura Handke, I learned to use my voice in a more powerful way using the breathing and resonance techniques she teaches. She is always pleasant and upbeat, which helps me to relax as I learn.  I would recommend her to anyone who wants to take their vocal expression to the next level. Thank you, Laura! –Mary Jo H.  

Laura Handke, Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher

Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice

Your Breath is a River (or a Conveyor Belt): And Yes, You Can

Every time I meet a new student, give a voice lesson, or sing intentionally myself, I learn something new.

Hearing “I can’t” dismays me. And I’ve been hearing those two little words a lot lately, especially from young female singers. “I can’t sing that high.” “I can’t breathe like that.” “I can’t hold a note that long.”

The more subtle and insidious message behind those I cant’s is “I won’t.” “I’m not willing to consider that I can.” “I choose to believe I am unable to do this.”

Admittedly, some of the suggestions I give students feel downright silly, and that can be embarrassing for tweens or teenagers. Say ‘nyaaa’ like an angry cat. Stick your tongue out of your mouth and tack it onto your chin with a finger, while you say ‘aaa’ (as in the word cat or hat.) Pretend you’re throwing your voice all the way across the room then down the street three blocks while you say, ‘money, money, money’.

Yet these exercises help free the authentic voice. Trust me…it’s not always easy figuring out how to help students get healthy and effective vocal technique into muscle memory, while keeping in mind how self-conscious we can be at certain ages. It’s not like I’ve forgotten my own experience of being 12, 14, 17…

Students of all ages tend to respond to the idea that your breath is a river – or a conveyor belt – carrying the sound of your voice. If you can picture your belly/abdomen as the bellows which bring forth the breath, which carries your voice on the river… you’ll be several steps ahead of most people who talk all day long without having this conscious awareness.

Just one little tip today to help free your voice.

You’re welcome. 😊

TWO UPCOMING WORKSHOPS:

October 5, Saturday, 2:00-4:00 pm

Dance with Joy Studios

8051 SE 16th Ave., Portland (Sellwood) OR

Embrace Your Authentic Voice: Four Critical Pillars for Effective and Healthy Vocal Technique

Learn to:

  • Harness the power of the Breath to create maximum vocal impact without weakening your voice or your throat getting hoarse.
  • Avoid harsh Onsets, which can cause damage to the vocal cords. (Internationally renowned pop singer, Adele, had to have vocal cord surgery due to this issue, not once, but twice.)
  • Create vocal Resonance, so your voice carries to the back of room without a microphone, and without pushing or straining your voice.
  • Speak in your natural, authentic Pitch to avert vocal fry.

Tuition: $25 preregistered/ $30 at the door
Register: support@dancewithjoystudios.com 503-704-5617

October 26, Saturday, 1:00-4:00 pm

In Partnership with Brenda Bryan and The Speakers Club

Location TBA

Four Vocal Superpowers Most Pros Don’t Know

Learn to:

  • Harness the power of the Breath to create maximum vocal impact without weakening your voice or your throat getting hoarse.
  • Avoid harsh Onsets, which can cause damage to the vocal cords. (Internationally renowned pop singer, Adele, had to have vocal cord surgery due to this issue, not once, but twice.)
  • Create vocal Resonance, so your voice carries to the back of room without a microphone, and without pushing or straining your voice.
  • Speak in your natural, authentic Pitch to avert vocal fry.

Tuition: $35/$25 for Speaker Club Members.

Register: brendarbryan@gmail.com

In the meantime, love your voice and voice your love,

Laura

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

In only a few lessons with Laura, my voice quality improved tremendously, both for singing and speaking. I’m noticing more resonance, clarity, and range. Laura has a great ear, and her teaching and coaching style feels safe, friendly and professional. She is supportive and stretches me. Her acting, singing, and speaking backgrounds blend beautifully to support presence and confidence in her students, as well. I’m excited to continue with her, and highly recommend her if you want to improve your voice. –Cricket W., MD

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)