Archives for April 2012

Singing Lessons Part III

We have a lesson to offer from the third of three songs our daughters performed at their singing lessons end-of-classes performance for parents and families.

Chantalyne sang “Chasse Galerie” by Claude Dubois. It is a song that demands a powerful voice. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in an earlier post, two days before the show we feared she would have to bow out, as her voice had not yet returned after a hacking cough that had commandeered much her past three weeks.

Her voice did return, although not quite as strong as normal and not quite as strong as it should have been for this number. Don’t get me wrong – she sang it very well and it was one of the better singing performances there. But it was not her best.

Nevertheless, her performance was riveting. And at the very end of the song, she delivered what we refer to as the “show stopper” moment.

There is more to everything than meets the eye. There is more to a great sports performance than just coming in first. How you play the game is just as important. How you behave off the field counts, too. How you treat other people. What else you do with your life.

And there is more to singing than just singing.

Watch the video and see why we call this such a show stopper. Then think about all the things you are trying to achieve in your life – land a new job or change careers, upgrade your home or move, build a new relationship or strengthen an old one – and figure out what other aspects you might be overlooking. What else goes into success besides the obvious? What else can you do that others won’t expect to add value? To catch their attention? To impress them? To win them over?

Lyrics to Chasse Galerie

À force de rester dans la forêt à s’ennuyer
Le diable est venu les tenter
Il fallait deux semaines
Quand la glace s’était en aller
En canot pour s’en retourner

C’était déjà l’hiver les grands froids
Nous mordait les pieds
Impossible de s’en aller

C’était déjà Noël le Nouvel An montrait son nez
Tous les hommes voulaient s’en aller
Le diable guettant comme un rapace son gibier
Vint leur offrir tout un marché

Dans un canot dans le plus grand que vous ayez
Installez-vous là sans bouger
Quand minuit sonnera ton canot d’un coup bougera
Il s’élèvera pour t’emporter
Mais si l’un d’entre vous après la fête terminée
Manque le bateau vous périrez

Et chez le grand Satan vous irez brûler ignorés
Ignorés pour l’éternité
Le canot s’éleva jusqu’au ciel ils furent emportés
Jusqu’à leur village tant aimé
Chacun revint une fois la fête terminée
Sauf le dernier sans y pensé
Posant le pied en embarquant s’est retourné
C’est retourné sans y penser

Alors le grand Satan dans un tourbillon de brasier
Tous et chacun à emporter
Le plus jeune d’entre eux
Le plus méfiant le plus peureux
Gardait comme un bijou précieux
Une prière à tuer les diables de la terre
Et quand il l’eut enfin citée
Comme des étoiles furent soudainement libérées
Devant leur cabane isolée

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Singing Lessons Part II

In our last post, we pulled a lesson from Chantalyne’s opening number at the end-of-singing-lessons concert last week.

Part-way through, our younger daughter Lauralee sang “Si Dieux Existe” by Claude Dubois. Unlike our elder limelight-lover, Lauralee is shy of the spotlight. She has been dancing on stage for years, but always as part of a group. Singing on her own in front of a crowd? No thanks.

Really, no thanks. She did not even want to participate.

She loves to sing, usually half under her breath while playing with Barbie dolls. And she loves her singing lessons, but she had to be convinced to sing on a stage in front of strangers.

When she got up on stage, she was as nervous as most of the others, but once she started singing, she forgot the crowd and her angelic voice – yes, angelic as ever – came through with no nervousness or straining in it.

Yes, the lesson from this one is pretty predictable. If you overcome your fear, just do it anyway, you’ll be an angel. No, wait, that’s not quite the lesson. Face your fears and you will succeed. You can do it! Whatever your apprehensions, just do it anyway.

That’s the lesson.

(Sorry about the video – the camera was playing games, so we only have the second half of her performance recorded.)

Lyrics to Si Dieux Existe

Personne, il n’y a plus personne
Mon âme qui s’affole
En prenant son envol
Me laisse inanimé

Personne, j’ai besoin, j’ai personne
Mon être dégringole
Tous mes sens m’abandonnent
Je ne sais pas si j’ai peur
Je regarde d’en haut
Le corps de ton esprit
Nos visages à l’envers
Tout petit, tout petit

Refrain:
Si Dieu existe et qu’il t’aime
Comme tu aimes les oiseaux
Comme un fou, comme un ange
Tu peux marcher enfin sur les étoiles, aspiré
Comme un fou, comme un ange

Personne, il n’y a plus personne
Mon âme qui s’affole
En prenant son envol
Me laisse inanimé

Personne, j’ai besoin, j’ai personne
Mon être dégringole
Tous mes sens m’abandonnent
Je n’sais pas si j’ai peur
Tu regardes d’en haut
Le corps de ton Esprit
Nos visages à l’envers
Tout petit, tout petit

Refrain:
Si Dieu existe et qu’il t’aime
Comme tu aimes les oiseaux
Comme un fou, comme un ange
Tu peux marcher enfin sur les étoiles, aspiré
Comme un fou, comme un ange.

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Singing Lessons Part I

Last week, my two daughters performed before the collected parents and families of their singing class at the Maison des Arts in Embrun. Thirteen kids ( 8-14 years old), one adult, eighteen songs, lots of fun.

And lessons, always lessons.

As I was playing back the video recordings we made, I realized there was a lesson to be learned from each of them. So there were lessons from these singing lessons.

In the video below, Chantalyne sings “Destin” by Celine Dion, the opening number at the show. It was a good choice to open with, because she got the crowd revved up – not that a crowd composed of the various singers’ families really needed revving up.

It was, in our opinion, the best singing performance of the evening. This is where you are supposed to nod your head wisely and say to yourself, “He will now lecture us on the virtues of hard work and perseverance and practice to achieve excellence.”

Well, not quite. You see, in the three-and-a-half weeks prior to the show, Chantalyne spent the first week and the third week sick, some of it with fever and all of it with a horrible, hacking, bronchial cough. In fact, two days before the show, we feared she would have to bow out, as her voice had not yet returned and the coughing continued only partially abated.

She really had very little time to practice.

But since you came here expecting a lecture on the virtues of hard work and perseverance to achieve excellence, who am I to disappoint? In fact, there was a lot of hard work building her voice up in general prior to getting sick, over a period of months. She took formal voice lessons twice a week. She practiced at home. She worked hard.

And once the fever was gone, she started to practice without her voice.  You see, there are three things a singer need to be able to deliver:

  • The words – she needs to know the lyrics backwards and forwards.
  • The timing – she needs to know exactly when to jump in (not a tenth of a second too soon or too late) and the exact pace to match the music.
  • The voice – she needs to be on-key for every note

So while still sick, she started working on the lyrics and on the timing under her breath. Yes, perseverance is worthwhile. Don’t let a little thing like a missing voice keep you from singing. Or crutches keep you from running. Or a poor memory keep you from whatever.  Figure out what you can do, and just start doing it.

Lyrics to Destin

Ya pas de voiles aux volets de mes frères
Ya pas d’opale autour de mes doigts
Ni cathédrale où cacher mes prières
Juste un peu d’or autour de ma voix.

Je vais les routes et je vais les frontières
Je sens, j’écoute et j’apprends je vois
Le temps s’égoutte au long des fuseaux horaires
Je prends, je donne avais-je le choix?

Refrain:
Tel est mon destin
Je vais mon chemin
Ainsi passent mes heures
Au rythme entêtant des battements de mon coeur.

Des feux d’été je vole aux sombres hivers
Des pluies d’automne aux été indiens
Terres gelées aux plus arides déserts
Je vais, je viens ce monde est mien

Je vis de notes et je vis de lumière
je virevolte à vos cris, vos mains
La vie m’emporte au creux de tous ses mystères
je vois dans vos yeux mes lendemains

Refrain:
Je vais les routes et je vais les frontières
Je sens, j’écoute et j’apprends je vois
Le temps s’égoutte au long des fuseaux horaires
Je prends, je donne avais-je le choix?

Je prends le blues aux signaux des répondeurs
Je prends la peine aux aéroports
Je vis l’Amour à des kilomètres ailleurs
Et le bonheur à mon téléphone.

Refrain:
Tel est mon destin
Je vais mon chemin
Ainsi passent mes heures
Au rythme entêtant des battements de mon coeur.

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No, Really, You Are Never Too Old

Last week, we visited the You Are Never Too Old Department.  This week, we are back.

No need to ramble on. This 86 year old lady would put me and most people I know to shame in anything gymnastics-related.

If she can do that, imagine what you can do if you put your mind to it.

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Get a $1000 Raise With Your Personal Fast Food Outlet

It’s not Wendy’s. It’s not McDonald’s. It’s not the Colonel. It’s…

… your freezer.

Yes, fast food is as close as your freezer. The appeal of fast food is that it is fast. No cooking. No time spent cooking. No cleaning twenty pots and twenty pans. But it does cost a bit – certainly much more than eating in.

Sure, it’s fun to make a Nasi Briani stir fry, and much cheaper than eating out, but fast food is – fast!

But so is your freezer.

What? Your freezer has tubs of ice cream, frozen peas and something that looks like it once was gravy? Or spaghetti? Or something?

Next time you cook Nasi Briani, spaghetti sauce, any casserole or dish, cook lots. Cook enough for five or six meals. Cook two different dishes at the same time (many of the ingredients might be the same, so you need only grate cheese or chop tomatoes once for two dishes (10-12 meals).

Eat one of the dishes – that’s your supper. Yum.

Once the others have cooled enough, separate them into 9-11 containers. Label each with what is in the container – including the date it was frozen, so you can keep track and not leave it too long (ideally, eaten within 6-8 weeks).

Nasi Briani with rice
One portion
April 23, 2012

 

READ ALSO: The frugal shopper’s guide to protein

FRUGAL: So a traditional fast food meal that might cost something like ten dollars to eat, will cost you more like three dollars at home. Not much of a dent in your budget for one day, but if you can replace 100 meals a year this way, you have saved about $700. When you factor in taxes, that’s like getting close to $1000 raise!

GREEN: Have you ever given a moment to really review how much paper and plastic and foam you throw away after eating at a fast food restaurant? No? I don’t blame you. It’s enough to make anyone who hopes for a future on this planet churl their stomach. Save the planet at your own, personal fast food outlet – your freezer.

HEALTH: It’s no secret that traditional fat food – oops, I mean “fast” food – is not exactly very healthy. Loaded in fats and sugars, and bearing little resemblance to anything Mother Nature has grown for us, fast food has been fingered as to blame for much of America’s obesity epidemic.

PERSONAL: Do you want food prepared just for you, the way you like it. Freezer fast food is 100% customizable. Put in what you want. Nothing more. Nothing less. Like t spicy? Like it mild? Want a big portion? Want a small portion? You decide how you will serve yourself.

Fast food in the comfort of your home, made exactly the way you like it, easy on the planet, easy on your body, easy on your pocket book. Time to check your freezer fast food.

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You Are Never Too Old

From the You Are Never Too Old Department…

A story that recently made it into pretty much every news outlet from Florida to Pakistan was how 80 year old Helen Collins remained calm as she made an emergency crash landing in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. (It skidded down the runway for 1000 feet before coming to an abrupt halt.)

The Cessna her husband had been flying.

When he suffered a heart attack.

With one operating engine.

With barely enough fuel.

Her son, Richard, a trained pilot, guided his mother down from the control tower. “She was calmer than everybody on the ground. She had it totally under control,” Richard Collins said. “The amazing thing is she landed that plane on one engine – I don’t know if there are a lot of trained pilots that could do that. I already knew I lost my dad; I didn’t want to lose my mom. It could have been both of them at once.”

Yes, you can accomplish amazing things when you put your mind to it. Don’t sell yourself short.

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