What to do when you’re feeling off kilter

Sometimes you wake up and you don’t feel quite right. Some days everything rights itself within minutes, and sometimes there is something not quite right following you about for the day.

This may just be how you are that day, it might be that you slept a bit funny. I have been dealing with recurring “flare-ups” in my neck for almost 20 years and have come up various ways that I can deal with this without allowing my singing to be affected.

Generally a mixture of pilates / walking keeps most problems at bay, but whenever I get any symptoms of faulty wiring in my nerves I will go to visit my amazing physio, Eoin Naughton at Peak Physio. I also am a big fan of both the Alexander Technique (taking lessons from Seán MacErlaine) and The Feldenkrais Method (taking lessons from Mark Keogh).

Today I have been working in Dublin City Centre as part of Tonnta’s residency supported by Dublin City Council. Part of my work today has been to document some of the physical work I do to maintain my voice in top condition. I believe it is vital to keep freedom and ease of movement in the neck and shoulders to allow me to successfully navigate what might otherwise be exceedingly difficult music.

One of the books I often turn to is Samuel H. Nelson and Elizabeth Blades-Zeller’s Singing with Your Whole Self – written by a feldenkrais practitioner in conjunction with a vocal pedagogue – it presents short lessons that can be followed by anyone looking to free up their vocal tract. Today I have made 2 videos of excerpts from this book, to allow me to follow the instructions more clearly.

I have also put together a video of short warmups that I might do on days when my voice is not feeling the most healthy. Sometimes it is best just to rest and allow the voice to settle, but at times,it can be good to have a routine. I have been attending yoga and pilates classes with Susan Church for many years (sadly she has now moved to Spain), and, last year, I was lucky enough to audit some modules of her Advanced Yoga modules at The Elbowroom, run in connection with Orla Crosse – I try to bring many of the principles from this work into my own singing (particularly within this video), such as mindfulness, never going to your end-range, allowing your body to be where it is while still enabling change.



Saluting the Feminists

I’m delighted to be performing this coming Friday as part of the Royal Irish Academy of Music’s Saluting the Feminists event. I will be performing with both Paul Roe and Dearbhla Brosnan at 6pm. Tickets  (free) are available from the academy.

As a member of Tonnta Music I am rehearsing in a great space in town, and I’ve put together a short video about what I’m performing this Friday. Please have a watch and share with your contacts.

During the day there will also be

10am – Panel Discussion – Women and Music in Ireland in the 19th and 20th Century
Ita Beausang and Laura Watson in Conversation with Jennifer O’Connor-Madsen

11:11 – Coffee Concert with post-concert discussion
Thérèse Fahy, piano performs works by Gráinne Mulvey and Siobhán Cleary; Sylvia O’Brien and Dearbhla Collins perform a selection of songs by Irish female composers performed by Sylvia O’Brien and Dearbhla Collins

3pm – Panel Discussion – Past members of staff from the RIAM Keyboard Faculty
in conversation with RIAM Director, Deborah Kelleher

6:00pm – Evening Concert

Elizabeth Hilliard, soprano; Paul Roe, clarinet; Dearbhla Brosnan, piano

Tickets for the event are free, but should be booked in advance.