Post archive

A New Year...

Happy New Year everybody! I hope you had a relaxing and sumptuous Christmas, topping up your eating and sleeping levels!


I've had a busy few months since my last Blog entry, teaching for the same clients and a few new ones, and learning about various music enterprises in the local area. One such business is Your Music Hub, a fun weekly music club which encourages students to play instruments, write music and delves into Music Technology too.

In addition to new businesses, I was very proud to spend some time towards the end of 2016 working with Island Farm Studios in East Molesey on an extraordinary fundraising project. Compiling a selection of songs by a diverse range of artists, with proceeds going to refugee projects in Europe. The album can be listened to and ideally purchased at this link: Flight Fundraiser. I contributed the song 'Cherry Tree Carol' an arrangement and re-writing of a fascinating song from the 1500s and also make an appearance on a couple of others. My initial arrangement had the addition of flute and saxophone from two very talented players Dinos and Nick, giving a theatrical and slightly mystical feel.

Flight Fundraiser is a very wide ranging compilation touching on all genres; all altruistic aspects aside, the album will be a great addition to your iPod.




Look after your pipes in Winter ...

... and I don't mean the plumbing. Although this is very important too, and presents an interesting analogy. You don't want your pipes to get too cold and freeze up, or too hot, which can cause damage. And in the same way, it's essential that you look after your vocal cords and take appropriate care, whatever the season.



1. Hydration

Winter or Summer, hydration is key. In the Winter, you might notice that your skin isn't as dewey as usual; it's dried out due to the bitter wind and rain. Your vocal cords suffer just the same, and you need to ensure you are constantly drinking water to keep them hydrated. If there is heating on, or even in Summer, you might notice a slight rasp to your voice - again, keep that bottle of water with you at all times and avoid drinks which might dehydrate you (anything containing caffeine, alcohol - and on a side note, I avoid drinks with dairy on singing days to evade what I call 'cream voice', which can be best illustrated by visiting this link: Cream Voice).

2. Lozenges

If you're a bit of a vocal nerd like me, you probably already have an ancient tube of lozenges in your back, ready at all times in case you strain your voice. I've tried all of the options on the market and frankly most of them are just boiled sweets with goop in the middle; the best by far are Vocalzone. They are a bit pricey, and tricky to track down (bigger branches of Superdrug seem to have them, and the site Music Room offers to put some in your basket whenever you make a purchase), but you only need to take one - a pleasant change to market competitors when you may find you have to mainline about three before you hear a difference - and that can cause rather questionable side effects!, and they are specifically made for singers. I do think the best option is honey and lemon, or just warm water on it's own, but if you are an incredibly disorganised person like me you probably don't have a personal thermos with you at all times.

3. Scarves! Endless scarves!

I recently saw an item on Hygge on Channel 4's Sunday Brunch program; it's the Danish art of being cosy and is very much up my street. I was slightly concerned to find that having a stew and putting a cardigan on had official branding, but that's the world of today. The gentleman presenting the segment mentioned that in the winter they obsessively wear scarves, and suffer from scarf withdrawal in the warmer months. I feel him. Especially in this interim period when you're not quite sure what gauge of jacket / scarf you need (it's definitely a 1st world problem). If you have a long day ahead of you, with a gig at the end, you must wear a scarf! Or a roll neck jumper, if you are ok with looking like a beatnik

4. Vocal warm ups

Yes, it's socially awkward to do vocal warm ups in the back of a pub, and yes, the rest of the band thinks you have issues. But it's essential if you are going to get through singing for 2 hours and still have enough voice left to schmooze at the end. There are lots of vocal warm ups available on youtube so get googling to find what works best for your voice. Idina Menzel, who has pipes of iron, must do hourly vocal warm ups (probably untrue but I'm sure she's there in front of the mirror running sirens daily. In the interview above, she also extolls the virtues of steam).

5. Sleep

Sleep fixes everything. You may have run a marathon yesterday and the next day feel like you're bleeding internally, yet after a decent 8 hours (I prefer 10 hours myself) you are a new person. I'm not stating the above from personal experience. If you feel a twinge in your voice, or have a slightly dry through the night before a gig, have a bath, take in the steam, and have an early night. Your throat and your body and mind will all thank you.

6. Rest your voice

I try to not use my voice before and after a gig - luckily in today's world the written word has a great deal of power and I don't need to be on the phone all day. If you have a bad throat and there's a chance you can avoid singing, take it. Don't be a hero!

7. Party season

With winter comes festive tots of all sorts of alcohol, parties, horrifying shots etc. Alcohol really seems to do something to my voice, and when I think of my vocal cords the day after a booze binge I think of these long strands drying out in the sun. Try and be sensible about when and how you drink; ensure you have a decent sleep afterwards and hydrate as much as possible. And if you can avoid drinking a day or two before a gig do it (if you can't avoid it, why not download this drinking app to help you keep track of how much you drink - it's a bit of an eye opener).

All in all there is nothing like a festive sing song (I know, I know, it's October. But my thoughts turn to Christmas around July, so I really am showing some restraint). So just be smart and prepared, and keep that precious voice of yours under wraps and well hydrated - remember, you only get one.

xxx



News July 2016

Good morning! I've had a very busy couple of months, working for Surrey Singing School, Rockademy, and P-Zazz, and am looking forward to a busy Summer Holiday working for The Strings Club and Supercamps all over London.  As the Summer term winds down, it's been great fun putting on Alice in Wonderland for P-Zazz Drama and running an exhibition of the work done by my P-Zazz Create Students.


Surrey Singing School has tied up the term with LAMDA and Musical Theatre exams and finished off with a flourish - the Battle of the Bands! I was lucky enough to be a judge for the pop vocal students this weekend and saw some amazing performances - it was an extremely close call! Here I am in a fun shot with the other teachers at Surrey Singing School:



















Back in June, we also had the honour of working with Natalie Gauci a one time Australian pop idol winner now doing her thing in London - the children loved working with her on an arrangement of one of her songs and it was amazing how much her presence motivated them to knuckle down and produce something amazing in an extremely short space of time. 
















My covers band Amuse Bouche had a very fun birthday gig in June for Gaynor - what a great crowd! They really enjoyed our tweaked three piece line up (vocals, guitar, cajon) and danced all night! We will next be playing as a jazzy duo at Rincon tapas bar in Richmond on the 31st July and you can find the event link here: Gig 31st July 

Not only that but I'm excited to announce that I have joined forces with Low Love to create a very pretty and twinkly covers duo called Paper Hearts. We are focussing on delicate, daringly arranged interpretations of beautiful songs from the last 60 years, and are debuting with a short acoustic set at a lovely open mic night in Hampton Court on the 14th July - full details here: Open Mic

Thank you for reading and I hope to see you at a performance sometime soon! For bookings for Amuse Bouche, Paper Hearts or myself don't hesitate to get in touch by commenting or via the Contact page!

Liz


One month into freelance freedom!



It's now been one month since I changed my career path from corporate employee to freelance teacher and musician and I have got to say I am loving it! There are some tricky aspects of course, but most of these are comparable to the tricky aspects of starting any new job. I'm looking at the small things though - and it's been a pleasure to lose the stressful commute, the panic lunchtime shopping trips to try and de-stress (and it's a rest for my purse too!), but most of all it's been amazing to transition from a job based on income with no emotional reward to something where the people are so nice, and everyone is working hard to do something they love, for pleasure and intellectual gain.
So far I have worked with several different agencies, and have found the site Singers Pro in particular to me immensely useful, aiding me to network and get in touch with various companies whilst listing my history in the industry and giving access to mp3s and other media. Additional daily trawls through sites like Gumtree and Reed have been less helpful but currently I'm teaching every day, but with plenty of downtime for playing music too, which after all, is what got me here in the first place.
Who can say how it will progress over time, but I can only say that I'm glad I took the leap and tried (rather than retaining that question of What If? for the rest of my life). More than anything it's shown me how lucky I am to even have the opportunity to do something like this so I'm exceptionally grateful.

Other useful sites if you are thinking of changing to self employment for a business of your own:

Gov.uk - lots of technical advice 
Guardian - more handy tips
Fast Company - some advice from industry professionals
10 good reasons - opinion piece from Michael J Katz regarding the pros in taking the leap
Department of Education - Info about getting into teaching 


Skalectrix: Twickenham’s Top Brass Local Ska and Two Tone band light up Patchworks in Twickenham (April 2nd 2016)

Sometimes it can be tricky to keep faith in your local music scene, but if you were one of the lucky attendees to the Cabbage Patch music night ‘Patchworks’ on Saturday, you would be forgiven for thinking that live music won’t go down without a fight.

If the sold out tickets and high turn out - even on a sodden night like Saturday - weren’t enough of a clue, local 7-piece Ska and Two Tone band Skalectrix are a group with a loyal following and above all the know how to draw a big crowd. As they demonstrated happily over a two hour set, they are avid fans of the genre and keen to educate. As lead singer and vocal powerhouse Jim Sole said at one point in the second half, “We could play a song you’ll know or play one I like.” - and eventually plumped for the latter. And the audience fell, one and all, for a thorough and extensive set including songs such as ‘007 Shanty Town’, ‘Whine and Grind’, ‘Longshanks Kicky Bucket’ and ‘Israelites’.

It Hurts So Good

Skalectrix played as seven piece band on Saturday (trumpet, trombone, 2 guitars, bass, keys and vocals), and they certainly made enough of a racket although admittedly were missing their Sax player (and knowing that, I did miss that luscious tone in what would have otherwise been a note perfect brass three way). And if you’re adding members, part of me would love to see a few backing vocalists up there providing harmonies whilst also adding to the party atmosphere which the band so effortlessly create. But these could barely be described as criticisms - more than anything Skalectrix are a rambunctious band of pro musicians, lively and there for the audience, with an endless passion for their chosen subject which fills the room with a thrum of excitement.

Don’t think I’ve forgotten the aptly named (if sic.) Sole’s bonhomie and audience banter - effortless confidence and being a natural frontman are great things for a band leader to have, but when you add on the benefit of those iron pipes you have a lead singer who really knows what he’s doing, and can relax and enjoy it. It may have been raining outside, but Skalectrix evoked the bright light of Summer so that even if you are soaked waiting for the bus home, you might as well be in a pub garden with a pint of cider and not a care in the world.


Grade 8 Vocalist!

The lovely people at Rock School awarded me 'Merit' Grade 8 Vocals! I was getting quite nervous about the exam but all the study paid off. 


The exam took place at Hillsound's fancy studio in Hampton Hill - full details here at their website: http://www.hillsounduk.com/ and the team made me feel very welcome and provided a room to warm up - it was a massive contrast to the last grade exam I took, where all the students stood in a draughty hallway trying to inobtrusively warm up at the same time!



New Uploads! The Gunner's Daughter

I recorded a three track EP earlier this year at Island Farm studios in Hampton Court and am very proud to announce that it's now live on Bandcamp.com to be heard, bought and enjoyed!



All lyrics and composition copyright Liz Arcane, violin composed and performed by Sara Mecci, Double Bass composed and performed by James Mason, vocals and guitar performed by Liz Arcane. Brass performed by Sara Mecci. 

Recorded by James Mason and Matt Doherty at Island Farm studios in East Molesey, mixed and mastered by Matt Doherty. Artwork by Liz Arcane. 

You can also hear one of the songs 'Settle Down' via my Soundcloud page:


Enjoy!x

Holloway Arts Festival - Singer/Songwriter Competition

I don't know quite how to put this - but Reader, I won! This prestigious competition was put together by Holloway Arts Festival and I was thrilled to make it to the top eight finalists.


http://hollowayartsfestival.co.uk/

It was a very fun evening and I saw some great artists, particularly noting King Compass who are VERY worth a look: https://soundcloud.com/kingcompass

Unfortunately since I basically live on the moon I had to leave at 9.30pm for an extremely long tube/train ride. I wish I hadn't - because once I got off the tube and checked my phone I was astounded to find out that I won! I was so surprised I nearly spoke outloud (not permitted on London transport). 

Thank you to Holloway Arts! What an honour :-)


Very special birthday show...

Gig of the year for me against the romantic backdrop of Ruislip! Really receptive and fun audience and great players x

RECORDING at Island Farm Studios near Hampton Court

Today I spent a very pleasant day recording in the company of Island Farm Studios, a studio near to Hampton Court, working on a three track EP with additions by my friend Sara - a talented violinist, trumpeter, and cellist (and basically anything which makes noise).


Overdubs in June and then the EP will be up on Bandcamp - very exciting!

The August List in North London

I went to see my friend's band the August List tonight, really great husband and wife duo. I went to college with Kezy and she never sang so it's an odd feeling to see her at the microphone - it just proves however that anyone can sing if they want to, you shouldn't let anyone tell you that you can't!





Gig in Fulham

We recently played at The Crabtree in Fulham - totally new venue and very fun! Although I was up all night with food poisoning so it was a bit of a day dream - still fun though and went down very well. Potentially our biggest audience too as it was packed to the rafters! 


It's a gorgeous pub right by the river: http://www.thecrabtreew6.co.uk/


DISTINCTION! Grade 5 Vocals achieved :-)

After my daunting exam in February, I was so happy to receive my Grade 5 Vocalist certificate from Rock School - and even more thrilled to see I achieved a Distinction! 


Unfortunately they did put my real name on there but never mind. I'm going straight to Grade 8 next. Why not have a challenge!




Work Vs Play

I've been asked several times how I balance working full time and playing music as well. The answer is that I don't; at least not as much as I would like to. It takes a concerted effort sometimes to pull myself together after a long day in the office, get on the train for an hour and a half, play for half an hour, get back on the train, struggle into bed and do it all again the next day.

But the passion wins out in the end, and cancellations are basically unimaginable (unless you are knocking on death's door). However getting into my twenties has made me take a few more moments of questioning what I'm doing and why, and the whole concept of settling down, and what it means.

I'm part way through a song about it (some lyrics below) but before we get into verse and metre there are one or two practical tips I can give. However, to some extent I feel they apply more to vocalists than musicians as a whole.

Drink water all day to help your vocal chords stay lubricated and 'un-sticky'

Eat a high protein meal quite early so that you have lots of energy. The main reason for this is that eating late, especially if nerves affect you in the stomach region, will have a variety of intriguing and unladylike affects..

Hum your vocal exercises on the train, and if you're shy hum quieter and practice your dynamics.

Breathe deeply, exploring right to the base of your lungs, and visualize them inflating (maybe not whilst you're on public transport... fresh air preferred...) - this should become muscle memory for singers really, but it's good to warm them up as well as your voice in case you get caught short on stage.

In terms of dealing with the big questions and getting by day by day - why not take it minute by minute instead. You're at work, then you're at play. If you had the day off you would be at home thinking about your performance and potentially working your nerves up, so it can be a positive distraction. And more than that it can be cathartic.

But the key here really is that if you are asking the question, perhaps it's not for you. As this clip from one of my favourite films demonstrates if you feel the need to do it, you will.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_n4CKeHHbU0

 

Open Mic at the Woodsman in Highgate

Last night I played at my first open mic in a month or so, at the Woodsman in Highgate for Bandwagon Management. Beautiful pub and surprisingly busy for an open mic night - nothing against them but sometimes it's the performers, one man and his dog and the staff (and that certainly wasn't the case on Thursday).

I played Papercuts, English Rose, Funnybones and Carousel and then skipped out to catch the train home before the witching hour.

Happy Valentine's Day!

A Valentines (in name only) gig at the Waggon and Horses in Surbiton tonight. Duo performance with Matt and myself in a lovely, friendly pub on the Kingston outskirts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My voice was back to its old self, and we performed a fairly light 60-70s R&B rock set... and even benefited from a stage invasion of sorts!

Acoustic Gig at The Albany in Twickenham

We performed at a 40s theme birthday party at the Albany in Twickenham tonight, with double bass and a retro vibe. Lots of fun and a good crowd; no tambourine on this occasion as it didn't quite lend itself to the classy feel.

I did feel a twinge of chest infection from my trip to Switzerland and didn't quite feel 100% confident with my lungs but that could also be a result of having my first singing lesson in ages two nights before, and noticing one or two naughty habits of mine. It does knock your confidence but the keys is just warming up and warming up!

Switzerland mini-tour

I just returned from a mini tour in Engleberg, Switzerland with covers band Amuse Bouche. We played three nights at Yucatan, a fun après-ski/party venue with a great vibe, great crowd, amazing food and enormous steins of beer.

You can find out more about the venue at the following link:

https://www.facebook.com/yucatan.musicbar

And see some of my pictures from the weekend here:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1038953332787540.1073741837.402391639777049&type=1

Enjoy!

 

x

Newest Original song upload

I hope you enjoy my Christmas song...

https://soundcloud.com/liz-arcane/just-a-holiday

Festive gigs November - December 2014

It's been a busy month of gigs - at The Albert, Kingston Hill on November 28th, a gig for Curves gym at The Wharf in Teddington on the 04th, The Waggon and Horses in Surbiton on the 06th and 12th at The Albany in Twickenham - with lots of festive tunes making an appearance!

 

Little House of Bread

Last year, Amuse Bouche with some friends (Adam, Sara, Jimmy, Emily) made a Christmas album. It's coming up to that time of year again and I've been listening to the album again; I have to say it's one of the things I'm proudest of working on in all the time I've been playing and singing music.

It's an EP of interpretations of old Christmas songs, and the thing I like best about it is that it does evoke the chill, and slowness, and silence of Christmas. It's been described as weird by quite a few people but most of the music I've loved in my life has been called weird too, and sometimes it feels like a word people fall back on when they don't have time to listen or absorb something. I'm not saying it's a work of genius but I am so happy with how it turned out and it's definitely worth a listen, especially as we go into the chillier months...

You can purchase it at the bandcamp link or just listen online free. It goes well with a walk in a misty park or a thimbleful of port.

Little House of Bread - album by Amuse Bouche, 2013

 

After a summer of gigs

I've had a busy summer of function gigs at a variety of amazing venues in and around London, some of which are listed below. It's been really fun working with other talented musicians for hire, and getting to attend the weddings of strangers behind the scenes... it's been a summer of van rides and late nights, conversations with boozy patrons and both packed and empty dance floors (sometimes the same dance floor, ten minutes apart).

At the same time I've been uploading an original song every week to my Soundcloud page and to the Broken Record Soundcloud page and very gradually learning about recording demos and getting better at obeying the metronome. Putting music into computer software is a great example of counterpoint, especially if you focus on lyrics, and especially in the age of social media when you send your songs out there to the world without the usual gloss applied.

I will be performing tomorrow at the Absolute Vintage store in Brick Lane from 5-6pm, solo gig with acoustic guitar at what really is London's best vintage store:

http://www.absolutevintage.co.uk/

 

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