Book Review: The Talent Code

I recently finished reading The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle, a great book one of Julie’s students recently lent her. Daniel Coyle’s mission in writing The Talent Code is to unlock the mystery of the world’s great talents. What makes someone great? Is it something innate? Something we’re just born with? Or can it be cultivated? If so, how? He focuses his investigation on various hotbeds of talent throughout the world and across a number of different disciplines, from music academies, to soccer teams, to inner city schools and looks at the phenomenon from three different angles: practice, inspiration, and master coaching.
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Vocal Misconceptions II – The Vocal Cords

A diagram of the vocal folds
Okay, this one comes with a bit of a parental advisory. The impetus for this article came from a scene in the TV show Hannibal, which can be pretty gory. If you get queasy about this kind of thing, maybe you’d better skip this bit. But it was a perfect illustration of some pretty extreme misconceptions about vocal anatomy from people who probably should have known better (or at least should have done a bit of research before they decided to base the plot of an entire episode of a popular TV show on a pretty egregious error).

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Ever wonder what is meant by “Classical technique”?

I don’t remember now exactly why or how, but somehow I came across this video a while ago of Paul McCartney playing a little Bach and explaining a bit about the origins of the Beatles song “Blackbird”. I remember when I watched it how struck I was by the difference in playing technique between McCartney (no slouch on the guitar, I’m sure) and the classical guitarist he’s working with. Look at how much more cleanly and evenly “Carlos” plays that bit that Paul just played. Not to mention the excerpt that he plays after that. Notice how economical the movements in his arm and the effort are. Just enough; no more, no less.

When I’m teaching a singing lesson and talk about efficiency and about getting the best sound for the least amount of effort, that’s what I’m talking about!

Put your hand on your diaphragm

The Diaphragm

Some common mistakes and misconceptions about the singing voice and how it works. Spoiler: if you could do that, you’d be in a pretty bad way.

I recently read a fascinating book by the great operatic bass Jerome Hines called “Great Singers on Great Singing” in which he interviews an impressive list of his colleagues at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, among them Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland, Marilyn Horne, and Sherrill Milnes.

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I gotta practice scales? Really…? Ugh…

It’s one of those things. We know we’re supposed to do it, but it’s so boring… So we do a little half-hearted warm-up for a few minutes before we get down to the real reason we started taking singing lessons: singing our favourite songs over and over again. Right?

Well here’s some food for thought from the Bulletproof Musician, a blog all about learning to practice better. (And, you guessed it, that means practicing your scales!)

Why I’d Spend a Lot More Time Practicing Scales If I Could Do It All Over Again