Thursday, March 31, 2016

Tabata Core Workout

By Nadia Marshall

Everyone wants toned abs! Get thoseDo each exercise for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest, then repeat the set 8 times.

  • Bicycle Crunches- Bring opposite elbow to opposite knee. Keep your head up, if you can. For an extra challenge, stay up on your glutes.
  • Double Crunches- Extend arms and legs as you lay on the ground. Come up and bring your elbows to meet your knees. Come back to starting position without touching the ground, if you can. If needed, return to original starting position and continue.
  • V-ups- Extend your arms and legs as you lay on the ground. Come up and bring your arms to your feet in a “V” shape. Come back down to starting position and repeat. Try to do as many as you can.
  • Scissor Kicks- Alternate your feet over and under with your legs straight out. Try to keep your head up and your chin tucked into your chest.

If needed, rest 1 minute in between each round. If you would like a challenge, complete the whole workout without 1 minute rest in between workouts.

Photo Credit: Six pack with two on the side by Heath Cajandig via Material is available under Public License- creativecommons Cajandig

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

An Introvert’s Guide to Life on the Road

By Lily Guerrero

Introverted performers are fascinating creatures. While they may seem quiet and reserved during every day interactions, they are bursting with character that shines on stage. It’s almost as if there's a switch that flips once the house lights go down! People like Audrey Hepburn, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, and Bob Marley said there is the person the public sees and the one they really are in private.

While introverted opera singers thrive in the theatre, perhaps the hardest part of this career is the constant flow of new people, places, and things that must be absorbed and understood. This is especially true for young singers who are first starting out in the business. You have new cast mates, directors, conductors, donors, and host families to meet and interact with in a short amount of time, and the sheer amount of social dealings during a gig can be intimidating to some introverts. If you are an introverted performer, here are a few ideas to keep in mind for your next gig!

1. Create an arsenal of icebreaker questions.

Many introverts find small talk useless and boring. They prefer discussing “big picture” ideas, which can be an intimidating opening topic with strangers! One trick to remember is people love to talk about themselves. The easiest way to start a conversation with someone is to ask questions about their back story, home life, or even where they got their sweater! Remember to keep it genuine, and don’t flood the conversation so quickly that it turns into an interview. If you can find things you both have in common, that is a wonderful way to turn the questions into a two-sided conversation. Bonus points if you can make the person laugh: studies show that sharing a laugh with someone can help to solidify your relationship with one another.

2. Approach people in an environment that best suits you.

It’s tempting to expend your networking efforts where there are a lot of people, such as trips to the club after opening night or group outings to a noisy restaurant during dinner break. As an introvert, we are accustomed to being the listener in conversations, but that does not bode well for those who are trying to make their presence known. Overstimulation from large groups will only cause you to burn out. Instead, take control of your surroundings. Eat lunch one on one or in small groups. Invite a cast mate to go to the museum with you on your day off. When you manage the situation and choose a comfortable surrounding, you set yourself up for success and have a better chance of making a meaningful connection.

3. Allow yourself time to re-charge.

Be realistic with the amount of time you expect to spend with other people. The fundamental difference between extraverts and introverts is that extraverts gain energy from being in social situations, while introverts lose energy. The reason that your brain is signaling you to go home and curl up with a book is because you need to plug in to the solitude and re-energize. It’s okay to want to be alone! If you were physically exhausted, your body would signal the need for rest. Take your mental health just as seriously!

Recommended reading: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Stress-Relieving Bath

By Nadia Marshall

Although we love what we do, it can sometimes be very stressful. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to achieve goals and to be the best we can be, but this can lead to stress related problems. Instead of creating obstacles for yourself, schedule out some "me" time to de-stress and refocus. Try this stress-relieving bath! It draws out toxins, lowers stress-related hormones, and balances your pH levels.

Stress-Relieving Bath:
-1 handful Epsom salt
-10 drops lavender essential oil
-1/2 cup baking soda


Draw a hot bath and mix in the listed ingredients. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Tabata Workout: Upper Body

By Nadia Marshall

      To tone up that upper body, try these Tabata exercises! Do each exercise for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest, then repeat the set 8 times.
  • Pushups- Any variation is fine, but try to change it up every round. For example, make 1 round regular pushups, make the next one wide arm pushups, etc. If these are not as comfortable, rock out pushups on your knees and kill that round!
  • Side Planks- Rotate each side every round. Try to keep your hand directly below your shoulder to help you balance on your side. If you want a challenge, try lifting one leg in the air and holding.
  • Plank- Mix this one up too. Do a plank with your hands one round and one round on your forearms.
  • Tricep Dips -Make sure your hips are not sinking down when you do this exercise. It is important your back stays straight like a tabletop for this exercise.

If needed, rest 1 minute in between each round. If you would like a challenge, complete the whole workout without 1 minute rest in between workouts!

Tabata apps for your phone: Tabata HIIT Timer or HIIT interval training timer. These apps keeps track of your work time, rest time, and tells you how many rounds should be completed.
Beeps indicate when to work and rest so you don’t need to worry about timing yourself!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Betany Coffland: Mezzo-Soprano, Entrepreneur, and Designer

By Sara Duchovnay

Mezzo-soprano Betany Coffland’s performances have been hailed by Opera News as “extremely fine” and “a joy to watch,” and her tone has been described by The San Francisco Classical Voice as "plush" and "Italianate". She is not only being praised for her voice, but her flowers too! Betany is the owner of Chloris Floral, a flower design studio in Sonoma County committed to using 100% local and seasonal blooms grown using organic practices.

How did you become interested in flower farming and floral design?
About two and a half years ago, I was overwhelmed with constantly trying to find “the next gig” and taking gigs that weren’t filling my artistic soul. It just became too much. My health was beginning to suffer due to the pressure. I was sinking into a depression, dark circles developed under my eyes, and I started having chest pains! So I made the decision to take some time off of singing and see what would happen. This was seriously the HARDEST DECISION OF MY LIFE. I still get emotional thinking about it! What in the world would I DO? I’d been studying singing since I was thirteen, attended seven years of conservatory, and my ambitions hadn’t allowed for any serious consideration of another career.

A Few months prior, I was out on an audition and read a great book called The Dirty Life about a young woman’s experience living and growing on an organic farm. I was inspired by that life, and I just so happened to have some new farmers friends in Sonoma County. I was looking to volunteer on an organic farm and a friend of mine said, “I know some flower farmers who could use some help” and the rest is history; two a half months later, I became a co-owner of that flower farm. That autumn I went back to singing, but on my own terms and delved head first into my new found passion; local flowers. About a year ago, I left the flower farm and started my own business called Chloris Floral.

In what way has your musical career influenced your floral design business and vice versa?
I instinctively knew that my musical career would influence my floral designs because I’m constantly hearing music in my head while harvesting flowers and designing them.

My floral design business has influenced my singing career by allowing me to take a step back and have a more balanced life. I’m not so desperate anymore and all my eggs aren’t in one basket. Yet, both of my passions strongly influence and compliment one another. We each have this idea in our head of what being a “successful” performer means. For me, now it translates to performing a handful of gigs a year with artists who inspire and challenge me, while growing my new floral design business and most importantly, maintaining a healthy and inspiring relationship with my husband.  

How has being a small business owner and entrepreneur benefited you as a singer?
The biggest thing I’ve learned about being an entrepreneur is the exact same insecurities and weaknesses that I have as a singer, I also have in my new business. My biggest challenges are following through on networking opportunities and confidence. I always think, “oh, they don’t have time for me”!  It was such a realization when those two things carried over into my new career!

I also learned that ALL businesses have amazing inspiration, inspiring and awful people, and loads of competition. You can choose who you surround yourself with and in this new career, I’ve made a conscious decision to align myself with nice, supportive, uplifting, and inspiring individuals. I don’t have time or the energy for gossips, time-suckers, and dishonesty. One of my biggest goals in this life is to be authentic and inspiring, and I look for people who cultivate that too.

How has being a singer benefitted you as a designer and entrepreneur?
Singers are taught to be prepared, on time, early in fact, and follow through. These are lessons that will help you win at life and translate into any business. It’s amazing how these simple things will get you pretty far and set you apart, but so few people actually do it.

Having to be the face for my singing business has helped me put myself out there as the face of my new business. Learning the skills to be my own marketer for Betany Coffland, mezzo-soprano has translated into my marketing Chloris Floral.

Tell us about your opera and music inspired bouquets. Describe the meaning and thought behind your favorite ones.
These are SO much fun and I have so many ideas that are just bursting inside. It’s especially fun to be inspired by music I am learning for my next performance. It’s interesting to realize where some of the inspirations come from, in addition to the music. For example, Mozart’s Don Giovanni bouquet was greatly inspired by a green corset, my Vivaldi’s Autumn bouquet was inspired by a 1890’s lace wedding gown and a golden colored ribbon, and Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos was inspired by Ariadne's wedding that doesn’t take place in the opera.

All of these bouquets then have hidden meanings and I use specific flowers. In Victorian times, there was a secret Language of Flowers where blooms were given to represent a message. For example, daffodils mean kindness; chrysanthemums are for fidelity, lilies for wealth and pride. Zerlina’s inspired wedding bouquet included a yellow rose for her cheating ways and Vivaldi’s Winter bouquet includes eucalyptus to represent a time for slowing down and healing.

My Carmen inspired bouquet was influenced by her flamenco dancing and I wanted to show that movement in the way the flower dances out of the bouquet. It’s truly so much fun and just to think, that the opportunity to work with flowers would have never come to me should I not made that decision to take a step back and look around myself.

For more information on Betany Coffland and Chloris Floral visit and

Photo Credit: photo by Jessica Layton. Flowers by Betany Coffland, Chloris Floral- Zerlina's bouquet, Mozart inspired

Monday, March 21, 2016

Tabata Workout: Lower Body

By Nadia Marshall

Tone up that lower body with these Tabata exercises! Do each exercise for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest, then repeat the set 8 times.
  • Squats- Try to get as low as possible without letting your knees go past your ankles. Stick that butt out and put your weight on your heels. Strive for perfect form in this exercise! Keep your chest up and a curve in your back.
  • Jumping Lunges- Jump LIGHTLY onto your feet and land into your next lunge. If you have a leg injury or you are not as familiar with plyometric movement, try walking into your next lunge. Keep your front leg bent at a 90-degree angle and your back leg straight.
  • Bridges- Lay on your back with your feet planted on the ground. Lift your hips up as high as you can and squeeze your glutes. Come down to the starting position gently and continue.
  • Jumping Jacks- This is an oldie, but a goodie! Jump your legs out and bring your arms up to make an “X” and continue jumping.
If needed, rest 1 minute in between each round. If you would like a challenge, complete the whole workout without 1 minute rest in between workouts.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

5 Healthy Tips to Recover From Any Hangover

By Nadia Marshall

It’s Saint Patrick’s Day! If you plan on drinking with your mates later, you'll need a hangover cure for tomorrow morning. Here are 5 healthy tips to recover from any hangover:
  • Breathe and try some yoga! Breathing helps oxygen flow and keeps the blood pumping which in turn keeps your head from feeling heavy. It doesn’t matter if you plan on doing a headstand or not, the easy movement and blood flow will make you feel refreshed.
  • Be a Minion and eat a banana. Potassium rich foods, like bananas and spinach, are perfect for recovering from a night of drinking.
  • Have a warm cup of ginger tea. Ginger suppresses nausea symptoms, making tummies happy for centuries. Add some lemon to your tea for an extra pick me up!
  • As much as you don’t want to, go outside and try some light exercise. The fresh air combined with the sunshine will greatly improve your mood.
  • Eat light and stay hydrated. Greasy food will only give you heartburn, so stick to something healthy packed with electrolytes. We suggest drinking coconut water to keep you hydrated.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

St Patrick's Day Cup of Gold: An Irish Whiskey Recipe

By Andrea Hansen

Everyone knows that on St. Patrick’s Day, it’s a little easier to come face to face with leprechauns, frolic in a field of four-leaf clovers, and find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! Looking to make a drink worthy of the Fair Folk on St. Paddy’s Day? Look no further than this delicious cocktail, A Cup of Gold! Its lovely golden color and spritely bubbles will get you in the mood to do your own Irish jig!
A Cup of Gold:

  • 4-5 ice cubes
  • 1 measure Irish whiskey
  • 1 measure lemon juice
  • Soda water, to top up
  • Dry ginger ale, to top up
  • Lemon zest twist for decoration
Combine the ice cubes, whiskey, and lemon juice in a highball glass. Top up with equal measures of soda water and dry ginger ale. Decorate with a lemon zest twist and enjoy!

Monday, March 14, 2016

3 Singer Friendly Cocktails

Sometimes, going out for a drink after a performance can be guilt-inducing if you have particularly fragile vocal cords. Here are three drinks that will make you feel a little bit better about tomorrow’s matinee!

1. Screwdriver

Your go-to from college is still a pretty good idea when you’re looking for a drink that has a lot of vitamin C. Keep that immunity up by mixing some vodka and orange juice together. The perk of using a clear liquid is that it does not contain congeners, which are known to worsen hangovers. Bonus points if you add a fresh orange slice!

4 oz. orange juice
1 shot vodka
1 orange slice

2. Hot Apple Cider with Rum

This one is great for Fall! Boil a few cinnamon sticks and a teaspoon of nutmeg in a small pot of apple cider until hot. Add spiced rum. Stir with the remaining cinnamon stick.

4 oz. apple cider
1-2 shots spiced rum
4 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon nutmeg

3. Hot Toddy

My personal favorite, hot toddies are a warm treat for tired vocal folds. Simply mix all the ingredients together until the honey is dissolved, and add a lemon slice with cloves as a garnish. Not a bourbon fan? Substitute whiskey or scotch instead.

1 shot bourbon
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 lemon slice
4-6 cloves
2 oz. hot water

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Daylight Savings Tips

By Nadia Marshall

Daylight Savings is quickly approaching and we must “spring” the clock forward tomorrow. We just started enjoying that extra hour of sleep and now it’s being taken away from us. Here are some tips on how to deal with Daylight Savings so you’re not suffering the next day:
  • Try and work out the day before around midday. This keeps the body clock advanced. Don’t work out too late in order to keep your body temperature lower. The lower the temperature, the easier it is to sleep.
  • Try to get up at your regular time Sunday morning! Don’t sleep in! If you do your body might not adjust to the time changes as easily.
  • Spend an hour or two outside and in the sunshine with a morning walk or some fun activity. Sunlight helps keep your body clock ahead and adjusted.
  • Avoid coffee, caffeinated drinks, and alcohol 4-6 hours before bed.
  • Start preparing a few days earlier. Unfortunately, it’s not the quickest solution, but your body will thank you when you are more adjusted Sunday morning.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

6 Types of Singers in the Audition Hallway

By: Lily Guerrero

When you live in a particular city, you're bound to meet the same people at auditions, especially if they are one of the stereotypical singers on the list below. How many of these people do YOU see on a regular basis?

1. The Nervous Wreck

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This girl asks you five times if she should start with her Mozart or her Verdi, then decides to run across the street to Staples to change her rep list. She keeps forgetting where she left her water bottle. She triple checks with the hall monitor about her audition time. She paces back and forth so much that you're convinced she's trying to add steps to her FitBit. You can't help but watch her ride the struggle bus through the halls of Shetler Studios.

2. The Humble Bragger

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This guy wants everyone in a five mile radius to know that he already has a bunch of contracts for next year and is #blessed. Even if you don't care. Even if you don't know who he is or why he's talking. You silently thank whoever invented headphones whenever he checks in with the hall monitor.

3. The Outfit Twin

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You knew you were risking it when you put on your royal blue, jersey knit, wrap dress, but it just fits so well! Unfortunately, those dresses look great on everyone and the girl right before you is wearing the exact same one. Umm... Is it too late to run across the street to J. Crew and find something else? 

4. The Program Alumni

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Similar to the Humble Bragger, the Program Alumni wants you to know that he did this YAP last year and he's only here on a technicality. You might karate chop him in the throat if he keeps talking about how he spent weekends at the artistic director's house watching Game of Thrones and drinking wine.

5. The Spanish Inquisition

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Who do you study with? What programs have you done? What's your starting aria? What's your 5? Where else are you auditioning? What's your social security number? Can she have a copy of your passport? This girl will NOT stop asking you questions when all you want to do is get in the zone.

6. The Future Best Friend

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You had never met this girl prior to check-in, but the numerous amounts of shared side-eye and silent laughs are your cue to ask her if she wants to get a drink across the street after the audition. You start off commiserating with each other about the business, and end up leaving with an awesome new friend. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Nature’s 11 Most Powerful Antibiotics

By Nadia Marshall

When you are feeling under the weather, the last thing you want to do is make a trip to the doctor. They are expensive, the wait is long, and you have to get out of your PJs. Before subjecting yourself to this torture, try Nature’s 11 Most Powerful Antibiotics:
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Horseradish Root
  • Onion
  • Habanero Peppers
  • Oregano Oil
  • Turmeric
  • Echinacea
  • Raw Honey
  • Colloidal Silver
Please note these are just temporary relievers and should consult your doctor first.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

9 Stages of Prepping for Juries Told by Cats

1. You head to your first voice lesson, where your teacher preps you for the coming semester.

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2. First stop: order your sheet music online and wait for it to arrive in the mail.

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3. Once you have your music, you get on the internet to research your arias and watch a few YouTube videos.

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3. Time to pound out those notes on the piano! Bonus points if you can get your BFF to play the left hand.

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4. Eventually, you get off track and start playing games on your phone...

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5. But at some point you get your first aria memorized. Time to get dressed up and sing it in a masterclass as a test run.

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7. When the sign-up list for juries gets posted, you and all your friends race to the bulletin board to get a good time.

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8. Then the big day arrives and you look for your best outfit.

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9. After months of hard work you ace your juries, and fist bump your teacher for a great performance. 

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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Artist Feature: Lindsey Brakhage, Soprano

Photo credits in order of appearance: Ben McKamey, Ben McKamey, Ben McKamey, Delaney Lauren Photography, John Bald,,, Ben McKamey, Anonymous, Melanie Burbules, Anonymous, Anonymous, Delaney Lauren Photography, Delaney Lauren Photography, John Bald, John Bald, Ben McKamey.