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Singers, Take Care of Your Instrument in Spring! (By Voice Teacher Eileen Cooper)

It’s that wonderful time of year again, when sunshine beckons flowers and peopleeileen cooper alike to come revel in its warmth.  The air is fresh, colors come alive; the whole world seems to be filled with song.  Unfortunately, it also happens to be the time of year when allergies start to peak, the flu continues to run rampant through schools and offices alike, and the desire to frolic in the heady springtime weather often results in a sobering cold the next morning.  

As singers, our bodies are our instruments.  This is, of course, a point of great envy for those bassists and tuba players who have spent the better part of their lives lugging around heavy and cumbersome instruments.  However, what seems to be the epitome of convenience suddenly becomes the heaviest burden when our physical health is compromised, and along with it, our voices’ abilities to function.  How can we prepare ourselves to get through this tricky, albeit lovely, time of year?  

- WATER!  Hydration is the key to keeping anyone healthy, but it is especially important for singers.  Not only do we need to be properly hydrated to keep our instruments in good shape, but drinking lots of water also helps the body to cleanse itself of pollutants and infections.

- BUNDLE UP!  50 degrees may feel warm in comparison to the frigid temperatures that we have all been suffering through over the past few months, but the spring temperatures only feel balmy by comparison.  Wear jackets and close-toed shoes, and don’t pack up your scarves just yet.  

- HEALTHY DIET!  I’m all for a delicious ice cream cone now and again, but be sure to fill your daily diet with healthy foods that will give your body the energy and nutrients it needs to maintain a strong immune system.

- SLEEP!  With longer days and the school year winding down, many of us sacrifice precious sleep for evenings out on the town or cramming to finish projects.  The majority of people need at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night to be fully rested; getting less than that amount on a regular basis can lead to long term exhaustion and illness.

- LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!  It is smarter than you think.  If you feel tired, crave certain (healthy) foods, thirsty, etc., make every effort to give your body what it is asking for.  If you are practicing and you start to feel like you are straining to get your sound out, take a break.  You may be developing something unpleasant, and it is better to let your body and voice rest a bit than to sing on swollen folds and damage your instrument.

- MEDICATION - If you do get sick, or have persistent and debilitating allergies, see your doctor about proper medication.  Make a point of stressing to them that you are a singer and need to have medication that will not dry out your vocal folds/nasal passages.  Drink lots of water while on the medications to help flush out the issues and fight dehydration.  Many people, including myself, find that alternative methods such as breathing in steam or using a Neti Pot can be helpful in preventing and treating these issues.

“Then came the lovely spring with a rush of blossoms and music
Flooding the earth with flowers, and the air with melodies vernal.”
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Happy Spring!

Eileen Cooper, Voice Instructor at Hunterdon Academy of the Arts

New Violin, Voice, Piano, and Sax Teachers!

To meet the demands of its growing music program, Hunterdon Academy of the Arts is very pleased to add three new teachers to its distinguished faculty: Mialtin Zhezha (Violin and Viola); Natalie Megules (Voice); and Jason Pattie (Piano and Saxophone).

Hailed by The Hartford Courant for his “expressive and warmviolin teacher Mialtin Zhezha sound and faultless intonation," Albanian-born Mialtin Zhezha is an accomplished violinist and violist. Mialtin has won numerous prizes and awards at national and international competitions, including First Prizes at the Young Artist Competition in Fort Wayne; “Kenget e Tokes” and “Islam Petrela” International Violin competitions in Tirana, Albania; and at the Nicola Piccini Violin competition in Bari, Italy.  Additionally, Mialtin received the “Best Classical Music Performance of the Year” award by the Downbeat Magazine.  Over the past few years, he has performed across the United States in venues such as in Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, Miller Auditorium, and overseas in Piccini Hall in Italy, Red Hall in Kosovo, Great Britain, National Theatre and the Arts Academy Hall in Albania, Macedonia, and Greece. Request a Free Trial Violin Lesson with Mialtin!

The latest addition to our voice faculty, Natalie Megules receivedVoice Teacher Natalie Megules.jpg her vocal training at Westminster Choir College, graduating summa cum laude as an Andrew J. Rider Scholar with a B.M. in Vocal Performance with minor concentrations in Musical Theatre and Arts Management. In 2004 and 2006, Natalie received 2nd and 3rd place, respectively, in the statewide NJNATS Vocal Competition.  Upon graduating, she began a full performing schedule in New York City, appearing with companies such as the Dell’Arte Opera Ensemble, The Bronx Opera, Opera Manhattan, and New York Lyric Opera Theatre. Natalie also has deep roots in the musical theatre genre, having performed with numerous regional companies in roles ranging from costume mistress to production stage manager to pit musician. Find out what a great teacher Natalie is by taking a Free Trial Voice Lesson with her!

Joining our piano and woodwind faculty, Jason Pattie received his Bachelor of Music in Music Education from The College of New Jersey, where he graduated, cum laude, in 2009 with a major in saxophone.  Jason subsequently taught at Monmouth Junction Elementary School, providing oversight and leadership for Beginning Band, Advanced Band, Jazz Band, and Third Grade Choir.  Additionally, he served as piano accompanist for the school's choirs, and taught Kindergarten, and 1st and 2nd grade general music classes.  In 2008-09, Jason was a staff member of the Marching Band at Hillsborough High School, conducting alto/tenor saxophone sectionals.  Find out if Jason might be the right teacher for you, by taking a Free Trial Piano Lesson or Saxophone Lesson with him!

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