Archive for the ‘performing’ Category

good news for people who can’t sing

January 23, 2017


Songwriters sometimes claim they can’t sing. But science says it’s a skill that can be taught, much like learning to play an instrument.

According to a study by Northwestern University, the skill of singing accurately can be taught and developed. And it’s a use it or lose it proposition. You have to exercise the singing muscle regularly.

And singing is it’s own reward. Who doesn’t love singing in the shower or singing along with the radio in the car?  Without even trying, while singing for pleasure, you are getting the regular exercise, not to mention all the other benefits of singing: increased oxygenation, improved heart health, memory, self-confidence, increased IQ (I’m not making this up), improved reading and verbal skills. Read more in the Interlude.

In short, singing — no matter how bad — is a good thing. In fact, it might just make you better. Don’t let the haters keep you down.

easy rhythm infographic

June 30, 2015


Olympic Poetry Writing Event

July 27, 2012

In the original Olympic games, they had poetry, dance and guitar jamming (OK, lyre playing) alongside the sporting events.

From NPR: In the days of the ancient Greeks, poetry and sport went hand in hand at athletic festivals like the Olympics. Poets sang the praises of athletic champions and, at some festivals, even competed in official events, reciting or playing the lyre.

“The ancient Greeks very much sought perfection in the body and the intellect, they saw it totally connected.” Tony Perrottet, author of The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games.

Read or listen to the complete story here.

Playing for ‘exposure’

February 23, 2012

Do you play gigs for free or cheap? Wish you didn’t have to? In his post ‘Why LA Club owners are totally lost and some advice for them from a professional musican,’ David Goldberg argues the business case that it’s actually bad for the venue to continue this practice.

Bottom line: bars and restaurants that ‘hire’ inexpensive (bad) musicians may get one good night when the band’s friends and family come out, but to attract regular, repeat customers, you need a good chef, good promotion, good service, a good location and a good band. You have to pay your chef, your wait staff and every other element of your business, why would entertainment be the exception? A bad band will drive away customers.

What if I told the wine bar owner that I have a great band and we are going to play at my house. I need someone to provide and pour wine while we play. I can’t pay much, just $75 and you must bring at least 25 people who are willing to pay a $10 cover charge at the door. Now wouldn’t they look at you like you are crazy?

“Why would I do that” they would ask? Well because it’s great exposure for you and your wine bar. The people there would see how well you pour wine and see how good your wine is. Then they would come out to your wine bar sometime.

“But I brought all the people myself, I already know them?” they would say. Well maybe you could make up some professional looking flyers, pass them out, and get people you don’t know to come on out.

“But you are only paying me $75, How can I afford to make up flyers?”

Read the complete article here on scribd.


July 19, 2011

Pitchfork Music Festival.

Christina’s Oversouling of the National Anthem

February 22, 2011

John Eskow wrote a spot-on piece for the Huffington Post on Christina Aguilera’s singing style. It’s entitled Christina Aguilera and the Hideous Cult of Oversouling. And Christina isn’t the only culprit. Here’s just one paragraph:

“This is the same grotesque style — 17 different notes for every vocal syllable — that has so dominated the pop and R&B charts for years. Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston are relatively minor offenders, but singers like Aguilera — who admittedly possesses a great instrument — just don’t seem to know when to stop, turning each song into an Olympic sport as they drain it of its implicit soul, as if running through the entire scale on every single word was somehow a token of sincerity.”

Read more.

Performing Songwriter resurfaces

September 23, 2010

I received this email from Lydia Hutchinson, founder and editor of Performing Songwriter magazine.

Hi, Everyone!

When I folded the magazine in June of last year after a 16-year run, I wrote that Performing Songwriter was a community of music lovers that just wore the clothes of a publication—and it was simply time to change clothes. I had no idea what that new outfit was going to look like, so I followed the mantra I woke up with one morning: Be patient, be open, be brave. And I’ve spent the past year breathing, dreaming, learning and walking around in all the ideas that were making themselves apparent. (And I finally got to go to Italy!) It has been, without a doubt, the most extraordinary year of my life, and I’ve arrived at this point of the journey renewed, healthy and ready for the next chapter.

What happened was that I was led right back to why I started Performing Songwriter over 17 years ago: I simply love music. What songwriters provide us with has immense value in our lives. So Performing Songwriter Enterprises is re-establishing itself through music-focused media initiatives to continue the mission of “celebrating music and those who create it.”

Under the Performing Songwriter umbrella I’m launching Be Heard Music Media, a home for songwriters, musicians and journalists to tell their stories in print, video, audio and digital formats—separately and as multimedia projects. And 2011 will see the “Be Heard Songwriter Series” of books written by songwriters, available in multi-formats and with digital enhancements. It’s all very exciting!

The first offering of Be Heard Music Media is “Letters From Lydia,” a collection of almost two dozen “Notes from the Editor” that appeared in the magazine, plus photos, an introduction that looks back over the past year and an afterword detailing the process of letting go after closing the magazine. It’s available at in hardback gift-sized book, audio CD and MP3 download, hi-res pdf and digital edition for iPad, Kindle and other e-readers. Also available in the online store are digital editions of the last five years of the magazine and over 500 articles, all in hi-res pdf format so the beautiful designs and photos are preserved in high quality.

I’ve immersed myself in not only learning to create different forms of digital media, but have also built a website and online store. One of my favorite things about the site is the “Be Heard Jukebox.” I always regretted that artists would work so hard on creating a CD, and then had to succumb to the music business model that allowed for a few weeks of promotion, a tour, and then have to start work on the next album, convinced the life-span of that release was over. But music lovers don’t care about release dates—new music is simply something we haven’t heard before. And music has no expiration date!

So I made a list of CDs I might have missed if I hadn’t published a music magazine, or didn’t live in a town with a great non-comm radio station, or didn’t go to music festivals. And each week a fave of mine (or of a special guest’s)—regardless of when the CD was released—will be available on the home page of for visitors to listen to in its entirety. All the links go directly to the artist’s site so visitors can buy the CD and directly support songwriters who create the music we love.

The Be Heard Jukebox’s premiere CD is Jonatha Brooke’s The Works from her own label, Bad Dog Records. It’s a gorgeous collection of songs that she wrote with Woody Guthrie’s previously unpublished lyrics, which she discovered after she was invited into his archives. I hope you enjoy it, and pleas e spread the word to anyone you know who loves music—it’s an open invitation to stop by and listen to something they might have missed. And for most artists, all they’re asking for is a chance to be heard.

Thanks so much to all of you for your support over the life of the magazine and your good thoughts during my time of dreaming up this next phase of Performing Songwriter’s life. I have no idea where it will all lead, but I sure am enjoying the ride. And I know, without a doubt, that music matters.

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Wikifonia – lead sheets

August 31, 2010

Do you have a friend who always seems to know the coolest web sites and resources? My friend Dan H is that guy. His latest find is Wikifonia, a giant online database of lead sheets. You can browse and download high quality lead sheets for free.

Thanks Dan.

Judy Collins on Over the Rainbow

July 16, 2010

Judy Collins

Judy Collins was interviewed about the song Over the Rainbow on On Point. She recently recorded it for a CD that accompanies a children’s book also titled Over the Rainbow. She sings the verse, which was missing from the movie and from most other renditions. In the segment, they play a wide variety of versions of Over the Rainbow, with her commenting, plus lots of Judy Collins songs.

Listen to the entire thing here.

How to become a singer

June 15, 2010

Always inspiring and always in a new way, Derek Sivers, the musician who created CD Baby, has once again hit the nail on the head, this time about becoming a singer. OK, becoming a singer is only the surface of what this post is about.

Read his latest blog post.