Saturday, July 30, 2016

These Are a Few of Laura’s Favorite (Summer) Things...


by Laura Isabella

Greetings and salutations! My name is Laura Isabella and I am a writer for Sexi Soprano. I’m an administrative assistant by day and a freelance soprano by night. I’m a superhero during the in-between times, of course.

Summer is here and I am so excited! These are a few of my favorite things:

1. Porch Time
There’s nothing like sitting on my porch with a beer in my hand after a long day of work or rehearsal. Beer and books: two of my favorite things. The weather is, usually, bucolic and balmy. I can sit back and do what I love to do best: nothing.



2. Workshops, Masterclasses, and Shows
It’s hard to do a lot of long-term gigs with a day job. I gig whenever and wherever I can. I still keep up my skills with a variety of short workshops and operas/operettas. I’ve made so many friends and networked with lots of professionals during my summer projects.


Photo credit: Sharon Walker; Off-Monroe Players’ 2014 production of Ruddigore

3. Travel
I’m always down for a road trip. I usually pack an overnight bag, just in case I go on long excursions. Sometimes I don’t even go that far: the park down the street or another neighborhood can be the perfect poor man’s get-away.


Red Rock Canyon, Nevada 2013

4. The beach
You wouldn’t know it from my Snow White complexion, but I’m a sun worshipper. I’ve always loved going to the beach and swimming. I also love snorkeling, looking for sea glass, and observing the wildlife... or just being a goof.



5. Car shows
I’m a gearhead. Summer is when everyone takes out their fun cars for Sunday drives and car shows. My Wegmans even has a car show on Monday night. My dream car is an 87 Pontiac Fiero or an 87 Porsche 944 Turbo. A girl can dream…


Once in awhile you just need to take photos in front of random people’s cars...

These are just a few of my favorite things to do during the two months I’m not freezing. If you need me, I’ll be sitting on my porch doing some score study...

Friday, July 29, 2016

5 Tips for Singers Who Dislike the Gym


by Laura Isabella 

I’ll admit it, I’ve never been the most athletic person in the world, so making the gym a daily habit is a huge struggle for me. Deep down, I know it is paramount singers be fit and healthy. We are athletes and should act that way, but sometimes the call of pizza and chips is louder than pull-ups and crunches.


Here are some tips for my fellow Sexi, but sometimes sloth-like, Sopranos.



1. Start small.
Don’t feel obligated to run marathons and bench your own weight right off the bat. Choose a focus for your workout session, such as “I’ll do a mix of walking and jogging on the treadmill for ten minutes,” or “I’ll focus on my core, and do some crunches and sit-ups.” There’s no reason to work out every part of your body, especially if you’ve been less-than-active for a while.

2. Squad Goals can become Squat Goals.
Bring a friend or your significant other. Many gyms offer free or affordable guest passes. A workout buddy can be a source of motivation and accountability. You don’t necessarily have to do the exact same workouts together, but it’s nice to have someone there cheering you on.

3. There’s an app for that.
If you’re like me and have a lot to juggle in your life, then it’s quite easy to get overwhelmed and cut out the daily sweat. Use apps such as Gym Goal, Gym Buddy, or Pact for tracking workouts and setting up reminders. Banish mental blocks and negative thoughts with the help of motivation/happiness training apps such as Happify or Coach.me. Remember that your most powerful app is right in your head: your brain. You have the power to hunker down and get it done.

4. Stop being so self-conscious.
I used to hate using free weights at my gym because I thought the lunkheads were laughing at me. This paranoia is unfounded and not healthy. I also used to secretly give the stink-eye to the Lulelemon spokesmodel on the treadmill next to me with perfectly coiffed hair and matching sneakers. HOW IS SHE NOT EVEN SWEATING!?

As singers, it’s easy to fall into the temptation of comparing ourselves to others. Focus on your fitness goals and move on. If you waste too much time worrying about other people, you’ll miss making your workout time valuable for yourself.

5. Be kind to yourself.
Hey, you made it to the gym today! Give yourself a pat on the back. You could only do a plank for 20 seconds? That’s 20 seconds longer than yesterday. Keep going, and believe you will go beyond those 20 seconds tomorrow and the day after that. Celebrate the little victories and see how far you can go during tomorrow’s workout.

While I still struggle to make the gym part of my daily routine, I try to stay positive and start each day new. Hard work does pay off. Last month, I ran my first 5K through my day job. Although I did a mix of walking and running, I had a blast with my co-workers and fellow participants. You can do it too.


Before: Fierce



After: Every muscle in my body hurts, but I did it! And you can too!


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Resources for Staying Fit on the Road


by Carolyn Forte

Summer travel can easily disrupt your health and fitness routine. Being on the road, often moving between two or three places over the course of one summer, presents a variety of challenges when it comes to staying fit. You have limited space, you may not have access to a gym, and you're probably living and working on a totally different schedule than what you're used to. But you don't need to throw your healthy lifestyle out the window during the summer months!

My advice: set simple health goals, allow for flexibility in your routine, and bookmark the following resources for inspiration and motivation. Most importantly: have fun and don't be afraid to mix it up a little bit!


1. Jenny, from the healthy living blog, Peanut Butter Fingers, has tons of workouts listed by category on her site. She even has a separate Travel Workout section for awesome, no-equipment-needed sweat sessions! Go to pbfingers.com to try them out!

2. The Blogilates YouTube channel is a treasure trove of fun, quick, Pilates fusion videos. You can mix and match 3-4 videos to create your own workout -- search by category (Pilates, HIIT, cardio) or by body part (arms and back, abs, legs, etc..).

BONUS: Sign up for the free e-newsletter and Cassie will send you a password that lets you access a month-long fitness calendar. That way, you don't even have to think about what to do. Just follow the playlist for the day and know you're getting a good workout in!

3. Daniel and Kelli, from Fitness Blender, have over 500 workout videos, with a focus on HIIT and cardio. Go to fitnessblender.com for customizable workout programs, or visit their YouTube channel whenever you're looking to get sweaty!

4. BeFit and PopSugar FITNESS are two of my other favorites on YouTube. Try the dancer's bodyweight workout or the Jillian Michaels 30-day shred on BeFit. PopSugar FITNESS has playlists of 40, 30, and 20-minute videos - so even when you're running frantically between rehearsals you can still fit in a quickie workout.

5. The Nike Training Club app (for iPhone only - sorry Droiddroid users) is free and gives you access to tons of audio workouts, even featuring some from celebrity athletes like Hope Solo. You have to create an account, but from there you can personalize your options by selecting your fitness level and goals ("get strong", "get lean", etc...) or browse through workouts by type. Some require equipment and some don't, so check the description box before getting started.

BONUS: The app lets you synch your own music from your phone, so you can study your roles while you do your burpees!

6. If you're all about basics, check out the 7-minute workout. Modeled on a study that was reported in the New York Times a few years ago, there are now multiple apps that mimic this workout formula. These apps guide you through basic bodyweight moves that, when done together, target all your major muscle groups. Some are free, some cost a few bucks. Just search "7-minute workout" in your app store! Do these exercises on their own, or add them on to your cardio workout -- run 7 minutes, follow the app exercises, run 7 minutes, repeat the app workout, and run 7 more minutes, for a super simple and effective cardio interval workout.


There you have it. Try and recruit your roommate or scene partners for motivation and accountability, and have a fit and fun summer!

Monday, July 25, 2016

These Are a Few of Ksenia's Favorite (Summer) Things...



by Ksenia Popova

In need of a summer cocktail after a long day of rehearsals? Here's a new favorite with refreshing watermelon and basil. It's easy to customize too! You can sub gin for vodka, or add a mixer like sparkling water to take it from a martini to a lighter sipping beverage.


Watermelon-Cucumber Basil Martini

Juice Ingrediets:
  • 2 cups of chopped, seedless watermelon
  • Half a cucumber, chopped and peeled


Directions:
In a blender, add the two ingredients and blend till no chunks are left. Run juice through a fine mesh strainer 3x. This should make enough juice for at least 3 cocktails, or just for sipping.

 Cocktail Assembly:
  • 1.5 oz Watermelon-cucumber juice
  • 1.5 oz Gin (can also be made with vodka, though I prefer a nice botanical gin like Uncle Val's)
  • 3-4 basil leaves
  • Quarter of a lime
  • Ice

Directions:
Lightly smack the basil leaves. Add leaves to the shaker with ice, followed by the juice you made, liquor, and squeezed lime. Shake for 15-20 seconds and pour into a martini glass. You can strain your cocktail before serving if you don’t want the basil leaf bits in your drink.



This martini is bright, slightly sweet, and very refreshing. You can add a splash of simple syrup to sweeten it.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Coconut Oil Spa Inspired by David Avocado Wolfe


by Nadia Marshall

After a long day at rehearsal we all need a little R & R! Try David Avocado Wolfe’s Coconut Oil Spa to help you relax and feel refreshed for the next day.

Soak in a bath with 75ml of coconut oil, 10 lavender essential oil drops and some in Epsom salts. Doesn’t that just sound amazing?! The combination of these three ingredients helps balance your pH levels, take out toxins and make you feel more relaxed.

Sexi Soprano bonus: Add Dr. Teal's Lavender Epsom Salt for an extra lavender boost if your essential oil is running low. Another option is using eucalyptus essential drops in the solution to help open up sinus cavities and promote deeper breathing.


Kick back, read a book, listen to some of your favorite tunes, or just meditate to the sound of your own breath and relax! Hope you have a great spa day at home!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

10 Fun, Lucrative Ways to Make Some Extra Cash This Summer


By: Brittany Trinité

Chances are you’ve found yourself in a financial hard place during the summer, or even in other points throughout the year. Aside from bills, we have a ton of other expenses such as traveling, auditions, and of course, the fun things, too! Instead of having to say no to that drink after rehearsal, or rack up more debt on those credit cards, here are some ways to fill your wallet.

1. Singing, of course!

Be it in a church job or with a band, why not make money doing what you love? You can sing back up for local bands, do a voiceover for a commercial or cartoon, have a recital, or even reach out to your community to perform locally. This is a great way to get exposure when you are starting out!

2. Tutoring

Students always need help in various subjects, both in and outside of music. Tutoring is great flex work that is also rewarding. Use your smarts to help others and increase your income!

3. Get crafty!

You may not always be into arts and crafts, but the summer is a great time to invent new art projects that you may even put into a store online or sell to those you interact with. You’re an artist, so be creative!

4. Pet sitting

Do you enjoy spending time with fuzzy friends, or know some friends going out of town? Caring for animals is fun and can make you some extra cash in some of the busiest travel times of the year.

5. Write on!

See about writing reviews for music or contributing to an online blog or magazine. It may start out small, but this is a great way to network and get experience in writing and publishing pieces.

6. Summer Camps

Seasonal positions for teaching kids or being involved with camps is a fantastic way to fill time and make some extra money over the summer, especially if you just need summer work. It’s best to start looking at camps to work ahead of time so you are prepared for summer.

7. Lifeguarding!

Getting certified as a lifeguard is great for work and is a fun way to stay in shape! These positions are very flexible and often stay that way throughout the year. If you like to swim, find out where you can go, locally, to become a life guard.

8.Eliminate your clutter

Maybe you have a few, hundred dollar textbooks or memorabilia just sitting around waiting to be sold on Amazon, or for some things, donated to a thrift store. Regardless, cleaning out your place of residence will help free up space and be more efficient in your day-to-day functioning.

9.Save your change

It may seem small, but putting away a few bucks a day can really add up. Instead of buying that latte, put the money away for a rainy day. Sometimes that feels more rewarding than buying something!

10. Volunteer

Although volunteering doesn’t pay right off the bat, it can often lead to invaluable work connections and potential job offers. Plus, it feels good just to give back to the community!


Did these ideas get your creativity flowing? Comment below with how you’ve made some extra cash! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Five Best Things About Your Dumb Office Job


By Carolyn Forte

So you're stuck at an admin job you hate. Or maybe you have a day job that you actually like, but still feel like it gets in the way of your performing life every now and then. Balancing office work with a singing career can be tough, but it's not all bad. Here’s how to make the most of your 9 to 5:

1. Your commute
Whether you're driving, walking, or taking public transit, your commute can be some of the most valuable study time in your day. Bring your score, your flash cards, and some earbuds with you on the bus, and get to memorizing! If you drive yourself to work, listen to your arias, do breathing exercises, or even sneak in some warm-ups. I keep a stash of straws in my car for semi-occluded vocal tract exercises. Make a playlist of various singers singing your rep and strengthen your voice identification skills by playing a guessing game with yourself!

2. Leftover office supplies
Re-purpose those leftover binders and divider tabs and put them to good use! Become an organizational pro. Case in point:


My music collection brought to you by leftovers from the storage closet.

3. Business skills
Yes, your day job might seem mindless and soul-sucking. If you're not in an arts-related field, you might occasionally feel like your day is being wasted. However. I guarantee you can put some of the skills you are learning to good use. If you are doing anything related to accounting, project management, sales, business administration, marketing, and so on, you are learning skills you WILL need as an entrepreneur selling your product: YOU. Even as a receptionist, you are learning valuable people skills that will come in handy when you're schmoozing with patrons after performances, or impressing bored audition panels. Are you making to-do lists? Breaking down projects into actionable items? Learning how to follow through and be accountable to your supervisor? Take whatever you're doing at your 9 to 5 and figure out how to make it work for you in your singing life.

4. A steady income 
Do I sound like your mom? Listen, cobbling together multiple revenue streams as a freelance soloist/chorister/teacher/wedding singer/babysitter/plasma donor can be great, artistically fulfilling, and give you the flexibility you crave. However, when you're first starting out - post-college or grad school - having an unwavering paycheck can help get you on your feet and on a path towards your goals. It can also stave off panic attacks once the bills start pouring in. Accepting an office job right after I graduated allowed me to seek out and afford the right teacher, coaches, and summer programs to build my resume and get some momentum going as a singer.

5. A potential fan club

Always. Be. Networking. Now this is somewhat dependent on your work environment, but you have a great potential group of supporters right in front of you! As long as you prove to your employer that you're up to the demands of multi-tasking your career, be open with your office mates about your singing dreams! Never forget how cool/strange normal people think we are for singing opera. Send them links to some of your recordings, invite them to your fundraising concerts, and entertain even the most mundane, tired questions about your singing life such as, "No, I've never auditioned for American Idol" with grace and enthusiasm. You never know who might be a closeted classical music lover, or who might even have a potential connection for you! When I left my day job to go back to school, my employers gave me a nice little bonus check as a going away gift. I still meet up with my former boss every now and then, and send her updates about how my singing life is going. Bottom line: if you work hard, people will like you, they will support you, and they will want you to succeed.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Protecting Your Skin AND Your Voice From the Sun


by Tamara Hardesty

Your whole body is your instrument; so when you’re thinking about protecting your skin from the sun this summer, think about protecting your voice, too. 

We all know that too much sun exposure can cause signs of aging as well as cancer, so here are a few tips to protect your skin from the sun:

1. Wear sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 and SPF lip balm. Make sure to get the hard-to-reach areas including your ears and hairline. Sun especially hits the nose, hands, and tops of feet. Your chin could also be at risk due to reflected light. Apply, re-apply, and use waterproof sun screen if you are swimming.



2. Beware of cool, cloudy days, as the sun’s rays still go through the clouds.



3. Cover your body with dark, breathable clothing, and wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes.



4. Find some shade from the sun.



5. Doctors say that there is no such thing as a ‘healthy tan’, so don’t sunbathe, and especially do not use oils that increase the effects of the sun on your skin.




So, what about protecting your voice from the sun? If you spend all day in the sun, this can leave you dehydrated, and dehydration can have harmful effects on your voice.  Dehydrated vocal cords will lose flexibility, which will make them less able to thin for higher pitches. This can cause a singer to increase vocal effort, and that strain can cause damage to the instrument. Tips to protect your voice from the sun and heat:

1. Air conditioning can dry out your throat. Use a humidifier during sleeping hours to offset these harmful effects.



2. Stay hydrated! Drink lots of water! 
           


3. Sugary, chemically flavored drinks, and especially caffeinated drinks like cola and coffee, are NOT helpful, because caffeine has a diuretic effect, which can add to dehydration. Drink these in moderation. Unsweetened juice, vegetable juice, herbal teas are OK.



4.  Alcoholic beverages are not hydrating, and cause us to talk and laugh loudly, tiring out the voice. Drink these in moderation.



So this summer, before you spend the whole day at the pool or the beach, just remember to protect your voice as well as your skin, so that you will be ready to practice, go to your lesson, audition, or performance.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

These Are a Few of Ellen's Favorite (Summer) Things...


by Ellen Hinkle

A dose of 118-degree days always come with unpleasant side effects. Arizona summers are as dry as Spongebob in Sandy’s Tree Dome. The heat causes sweating, and sweating causes acne and bad sleep. The dry heat flares my allergies. To deal with these summer problems, I use essential oils! They are a healthy and effective alternative to over the counter medicines, and they aren’t too bad on my bank account.


1. Eucalyptus oil


Eucalyptus oil has many benefits, but I use it most to battle my allergies. It unclogs my sinuses and helps me breathe. I mix a few drops of Eucalyptus with a carrier-oil, such as coconut oil or olive oil, and put it behind my ears. Make sure you don’t put the Eucalyptus oil directly on your skin as this may cause irritation.


2. Lavender and Cedarwood oil


The Arizona heat causes me to toss and turn. Getting a full night’s sleep is almost impossible during the summer! Diffusing Cedarwood and Lavender before bed helps me relax and get my beauty rest. The smell is so refreshing and it makes me feel as if I’m in a meadow or camping!


3. Tea Tree oil

Let's face it, acne sucks! To take care of this problem, I use Tea Tree oil! Tea Tree oil contains anti-fungal properties and is all-natural. I mix a couple drops into my face wash every morning and feel comfortable that I am using something that will help my acne without all the extra chemicals and possible side effects.


Friday, July 15, 2016

Ten Ways to Annoy Others While Vocalizing


by Katya Syrochkina 

1) Practice “Mario, Mario, Mario!” from Tosca fortissimo in the stairwell of your building.

2) Work on lip trills during long lines at Target.

3) Vocalize in the middle of a busy intersection while doing any operatic gesture.

4) Greet strangers with an “I love to sing” sung loudly and very high or low.

5) During a church service, stand up when there’s a lull in activity and lunge into a low “a e I o u" with a vicious expression. Note: NOT recommended if you are or have or want to be hired at said church.

6) If at a bar, frat party, or room full of drunk people, lunge into “Pace", the opening line from “Pace mio Dio" while slowly pouring water over one’s head.

7) If at a group yoga session, lunge into “Va!” from “Va laisse couler mes larmes" during exhale/inhale moments.

8) While on a long bus or train ride, make sure to practice the runs from Mozart's Alleluia.

9) On a blind date, during a particularly flirty moment, sing, “Stride la vampa!” into date's ear.


10) And never forget to vocalize on favorite expletive during lesson with your most uptight teacher/coach.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

"Who Wears Short Shorts?" Workout


by Nadia Marshall

Summer Short shorts call for a legs and butt workout! Here’s a workout you can plan into your schedule with little to no equipment needed: perfect for when you’re overseas, in a hotel suite, or not wanting to spend money on a gym.

Squats
Closed Leg Squat
Deadlift
Backward Lunges
Sumo Squats

Heel Raise

Do 20 Reps each and repeat 3x

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

11 Free Apps to Use during Your Commute to Improve Your Career


by Lily Guerrero

When you live in a big city, you often find yourself wasting a lot of time on the train, bus, or in the back of an Uber. Why not spend that time working on your goals? Exit out of your games and use these 11 free apps to improve your career during rush hour.

1. Brush up on your language skills using Duolingo. Each individual lesson only takes about two minutes, and you can take a placement test at the beginning of each language so you don’t waste time on things you already know. Don’t want to practice the speaking exercises on a packed bus? Change the settings to reading and writing exercises only!

2. Use the Notes app to practice memorizing your translations. Elbow room on the train is hard to come by, so we understand that it’s not always possible to write your translations by hand. Why not use the Notes app instead?
3. Use the Music app to listen to your rep and mouth along. This one is probably a no brainer for most, but uploading your music to your phone and listening to it in the background while you respond to e-mails can help you learn your music quicker.

4. Use the Voice Memos app to listen to your last voice lesson or practice session. Maybe you’ll resonate with something your teacher said that you didn’t hear before, or you’ll catch where in the phrase you’re losing that breath support. These are important things to know!

5. Use the Books app to read a bio on your favorite singer. Did Jessye Norman really request that people spray water into the air in front of her before she walked on stage? What happened to Renée Fleming the first time she sang for the National Council Auditions? Read their bios and find out!

6. Use the Mail app to respond to important e-mails. Don’t forget to confirm that audition time, e-mail your teacher back about your next lesson, or respond to the stage manager about your costume fitting!

7. Use the Podcast app to catch up on news in the business. We especially like The Metropolitan Opera Guild, OperaNow, Doing the Work, and The Diction Police.

8. Use the Yaptracker app to find potential gigs. While you can’t see the infamous exclamation points next to each listing on the app, you can still use it to browse opportunities and add them to your “Upcoming Deadlines” list.

9. Update your Facebook Fan Page. You already have the Facebook app anyway; why not spend two minutes improving your social media presence?

10. Use Twitter to tweet a message to your followers about your day at rehearsal, the great show you saw, or your opinion on the recent news in the opera world. A little bit of sharing goes a long way!

11. Instagram a picture of the music you’re working on or the current rehearsal you’re in, and use hashtags! Opera companies will love you for the free marketing, and your family in South Dakota will love seeing the daily ins and outs of your adventurous life as an artist. Just be sure to adhere to the social media policies of the company you’re working with.


What other free apps do you love to use when you’re on the go? Comment below!