Wednesday, September 13, 2017

There is Always a Reason to be Jubilant; Enjoy Life

In the most mundane moments when you fall deep into thought, and you feel like you want to penetrate into solitude based on your situation that leaves you experiencing doubt, let your soul be inspired by painting a picture in your mind of something great that happened in your life which once delighted your eyes. Don't let doubt control the way that you maneuver this world. Just a thought but . . . who did God uniquely and wonderfully custom create to be ruler over many things?

There is always a reason to be jubilant.

Encourage your own self by remembering all the good about you and about your current position, and let that add the spring in your step that you need to allow joy to grow in the fertile corners of your heart. You are so very blessed!  Don't ever let your doubts hold you in as a prisoner. God is bigger than all of that. That's the mustard seed. Don't let go of it and don't ever forget to let God's faith empower you. 

How could you not feel full of life and warmth when you find a reason to smile about your own self?


Let the good you have experienced be etched in your mind and create for you a catchy and upbeat song and dance (some call this life) for you to take on your existence and the world. I mean in all actuality, who’s world is this? 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Why Practicing Vocals is Equally Important to Stage Performances

“We know we cannot be in top form at all times,
however by focusing on ‘the summit’ – a peak level of personal investment –
we upgrade every aspect of life habits,
even when we have those days that we are less than our best,
and we can use the experience to make the necessary corrections for the future
– (Time Lautzenheiser)


Practicing your craft is just as important as getting on the stage and fluttering your wings; perhaps even more.

I try to urge my students to practice, telling them that rehearsal is a space to go over what you practiced at home and not a place to be trying to figure out things that you should have prepared yourself for. Why do people consider this art different than other pedagogies which you would study at home prior to getting into the classroom and exercising the knowledge based on what you have individually experienced by going over the material? Your personal investment in your craft is important. Yes, it is all fun and games to get into the art of singing and music but there are technical things that need to be acknowledged as well.

I think that the practice space is a good place to get a grasp of your lyrics, the music, the melodies, the vocal tones and for finding a way to successfully fit into the mix. They say the sum of the whole is greater than all of its parts. You as the part add to the whole and are an important factor to the big picture. With that in mind, practicing is worth it because it is the art of working on the priceless value of your craft; and yes, it is valuable. Even more of value when added to the mixture of the band in the band rehearsal space and on the performance stage.

Sure, you are incredibly creative. Sure, you might know a whole lot about your instrument and the art of it but . . . nobody is perfect. We are not all-knowing beings. We know some things but not everything and it is important to remember that, “we’re still figuring it out on a daily basis. But we’re getting a lot better at it” (Matt Scanlan). The more you practice your craft, the more you master your craft; better than the day before that is. The more you study what you do, the more command you will have at the role you play as the unique individual that you are.

Here is a good practicing method you may want to try



1. Have a plan. Lay out all the songs that you might need to go over in the order that you plan on practicing them and have a playlist ready that will help you to easily get your practice on.

2. Find the keys for the songs you will sing. Whether it is by google search to find out what key the singer who rendered the version you will cover did it or by using a keyboard to figure it out by your ear, it is a good idea to know what key you will be singing in so you can do scales and vocal exercises based on the major keys of the songs and their corresponding minors.

3. Just like every other muscle, you warm it up before you work it out. There are so many conveniently free vocal warmups and exercises on YouTube. I use many of them as well as books, with exercises I do using my keyboard. The breathing exercises, scales and intervals are the warmup. The singing and going over of the songs are the workout. Have water with you to lubricate that small coin-sized muscle as you warm it up and work it out.

4. Print out lyrics to your songs. Sing with the recording. That way you will also remember some of their tricks. Find other singers who did it and practice their renditions as well. Watch the performances that they did of the song you are getting ready to sing. Listen to the way that they pronounced their words and added energy to the song. Sing to karaoke tracks. Many of them are now on YouTube or Spotify that you can easily make a playlist of the karaoke tracks you are practicing to sing along to, and record it on the voice memo on your phone. That way you can listen back and make the changes that you want based on your own critique of yourself. I am not sure if anyone else is like me, but what I record of myself, I usually do again live.

5. End your practice session with a vocal cool down so that any strain you might have put on your voice can be normalized and satiated. Just like any other muscle that you workout and stretch, needs to be warmed up and cooled down, the vocal cords are no different.


They say at least 15 minutes a day of exercise is important to improving heart health. So, practice vocalizing for at least 15 minutes a day to improve vocal quality and your vocal control. What you invest in, you will reap the benefits from. So, make sure that you are investing your time into your own craft. If you have time, check out this video I created to physically demonstrate my methodologies of practicing my vocals before a rehearsal and actual live performance here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-51jxVeDOk&feature=youtu.be



Thank you so much for checking out my blogpost.  

Check out more of what I do by visiting my website at http://www.jnotemusic.com

Thank you for stopping by my blog everybody. 

Peace! 

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Reason Why I Sing!

While many things may tug at me for my attention, I find music to be the one I respond to the most.


Photo from Taste of Minsk 2017 provided by EMM Management
I am thankful mostly for the spring of life that it gives me which is why I have genuine enthusiasm to partake in the art of singing. From the cradle to now in my adulthood, singing gives me motivation. Even in my worst days when my strength is sapped like in the heat of summer, somehow God girds me with strength just to fulfill my passion.

You might wonder why I love it so much. Well, I can honestly say that music gets my heart pumping. It brings my world to life. It animates me and gives me ecstatic joy. It adds sparkle to the routine of my day and I am thankful for the wonderful gift of music, song and voice that God blessed me with and I believe this is what I was born to do. Singing is my purpose.


Photo from Taste of Minsk 2017 provided by EMM Management



I know my most focused attention dwells there but it is only because I am wading in the deep waters of love God gave me to embrace it with confidence. That is just one of the many reason I will forever sing of his mercies. Thankful for every open door of opportunity that he enables me to walk into.

You are Invited:

Perhaps I might interest you in one of the many upcoming singing engagements that I will be participating in.  



On Saturday, September 9, 2017, please join me as I get on stage at the Fort Greene Jazz Festival hosted by Eric Frazier. It will take place in Fort Greene Park located at Dekalb Avenue and South Portland in Brooklyn NY from 3PM to 7PM. 

Photo from Taste of Minsk 2017 provided by EMM Management
I am thinking this event will be one of the biggest of the annual Fort Greene Park Jazz Festivals yet, now in its 8th year. It is a free event and open to the public I think it will be something that will bring a spark of fun, joy and dancing in the streets of Brooklyn and am so excited to be able to share my talents there. 

Hopefully you can join us this Saturday. If so, see you there! 

Friday, August 25, 2017

How Traveling to Minsk Changed My Life

The pleasing surroundings of Minsk had me in awe. 


Just the simple activity of getting up in the morning and looking out the window to see the beauty of this city in Europe, got my heart pumping. I cannot say that I am totally armed with knowledge about everything Minsk that I would like to have come to know with my own travel experience, but I can say that every minute spent there made me feel animated.

The beautiful waters of the Minsk Sea brought the atmosphere to life. If only I were as bold as a lion, I would have colored outside of the lines and dived into her waves. Yet still, just seeing this different world with my own eyes gave me great elation. If anything was worth changing for me, it would be to know more and to see more in the block of time that I was caught up in the rapture of the magnetic pull of this Belarusian region.

I can honestly say that I had a hard time getting to bed at night because of the time difference. It might have been midnight there but in New York, it was 5PM. That is a time of day when my strength is usually that of a bull pushing through the currents of time. And when its 10PM in New York, in Minsk it is 5AM and I can admit that in a New York minute, my strength starts getting sapped like in the heat of summer.  Yet still, often times, I am up to the wee hours of the morning like a night owl, still with the fire of enthusiasm to persevere in my preparations for success. But nothing like a little bit of pressure and a cup of some good old Americano coffee to cope with to help me in catapulting beyond my yesterday.

Each day it got better and better. I have so many vivid details of the antiquated buildings, the alpine backdrops, the birch trees that lined the highways, the lively and colorful places, people with a grandeur of soul, the food and the amazing music that tugged at my attention and absorbed into my memory. I met so many different walks of life with down home spirits that made me feel as if I squeezed right into the mold. Though we have different dwelling places, we are not that different at all; except for where we call home. So many good moments to keep stored in my cerebral filing cabinet.

I can say that it was a landmark moment in my life to be able to say that I shared my talents there. Artists from all over the world came on one stage under the lunar brightness for the
wonderful Jazz at the Sea Festival. It was valuable for me because I got to experience ambitious people with more years of experience doing what we do in action and it was inspiring. Imagine all the tools and the strategies you can learn just by watching someone else sharing their hand-tailored blessings.

What a great way to perfect my landscape of perception of how one can spread their wings and provide a full measure of joy through music. Evaluating their performances made me reflect on ways I could scale my own performances.  I can say that this musical journey was designed just for my own personal development and growth as an artist and musician.  

Not only do I love Minsk for the beautiful place it was but also because of how coming together in harmony with Belarusian musicians for a night of music made the land come alive for me. I even felt like taking off my shoes during my performance, so I could feel the energy of the land surge through my body.


It makes me see traveling through a lens of love. Traveling expands your understanding of the world. It brings heights of joy that ought to be felt. Traveling is like a veiled breeze on a scorching hot day; makes you look at the world which you inhabit differently. And so, to have seen Minsk in such a majestic way leaves me highly motivated. Traveling to Belarus was definitely one of the most moving forces that will forever burn like a blazing fire in my heart.


Friday, July 28, 2017

Things to Consider to Stay Motivated As a Singer

I started singing in the church in grade school and have been a part of every choir that I was able to immerse myself into for most of my life.


I grew up in a Roman Catholic church and I can’t remember ever not loving to hear the pipe organ accompany us as we sang the classical hymns that would get the congregation to join in with us in unity to lift up the holy name of Jesus.  Church was always my thing and back then, there was not one Sunday of service that I would miss, because I loved being in the number.

I may have been young and innocent back then but still, I was just waiting in the wings to fly high into the skyways of singing. Who knew I would have had so many dramatic encounters since then as I sojourned through life!

A JOURNEY

It has been a journey indeed. From messing up on stage, to not being prepared for things I wanted to accomplish as a singer, to getting rejections and also, being accepted, doing well through some performances and having what needed to be on point for many live musical engagements. I have done off-Broadway plays cast as part of chorus lines, directed choirs, won a few contests here and there, played extra roles in movies, lead and been part of bands, produced a radio show and also sung abroad.

The road has had its turbulence but I can honestly say that there have been more smooth cruise control times than traffic and potholes in my story. With that in mind, I have ideas to share with all of you interested in getting yourself out there into the world and doing something with your talent and also for those seeking motivation.

DISCLAIMER

Okay, I know what you are thinking and you might actually be right. No, I am not the best singer in the world and have not had enough formal training to qualify as a pedagogue in this area of expertise. 

However, I do have enough cuts and bruises from experience to be able to relay to you how I got the scars that brought me to where I am today because the road has not been simple and it is very easy to sway from your musical endeavors because of someone or something that did not go the way you expected. Experience is the pedagogy that I speak of. Hopefully these points to consider will stimulate your mind and give you some fuel to keep moving on the road ahead. 

HERE ARE SOME OF THEM:

1. At times we may feel discouraged because of what someone said or how they treated you on the bandstand. It happens especially because the band stage involves the meshing of different ages and  personalities. Consider your source of discouragement and if it is even worth basing your quality of talent on their attitude. 

Who are they? Were they sober? Are they people to take seriously? Are you being open-minded?  What do you believe about yourself? 

Being a musician is not easy, so you must be strong-willed and you must also stay prayed up. Otherwise, you will always have a bruised ego and might give up. 

2. Everyone is a critic. Everyone has an opinion. Some people will love what you have to offer. Some people will not like what you have to offer at all. Some will support everything you do. Some won't support anything you do and then talk about what you are doing and how you are doing it. This includes family. Some people will go out of their way to compliment you. Some people will move out of your way to criticize you in another person's ears. Some people will do everything in their power to help you. Some won't even pat you on the back to wish you well. But, the question is, do you believe in what you are doing? Where do you stand on the topic of faith? Remember, we are our own biggest critic. You are better than you think.

3. One performance is not your entire lifeline. We all have good nights. And sometimes we have bad nights. Nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. But not everyone may know you actually made one, so don’t tell them. Remember, Ella Fitzgerald forgot her words and started singing those nonsense words that everyone tries so hard to imitate through scatting nowadays. 


You never know what will happen if you just stay calm and not say, sorry guys, I messed up the song. Or don’t be like the younger Me and decide to run off the stage crying without finishing the song. They may not even know you messed it up. But if they do,  what can you do? Good to be honest with yourself but not good to punish yourself for it. Better to continually find ways to encourage yourself.  

Shit happens! So what? And what better place to intentionally mess up than in performance mode at an open mic. You may never know what you can do if you never try anything new. If you need to pull out your phone to get the lyrics, go and karaoke because the words are there for you. Holding your phone to read lyrics looks tacky on a stage with a band. If you know the lyrics already, open mic with a live band. Don’t be afraid to experiment. And if you mess up in an open mic, It's open mic so just try it again; that is, if you decide not to quit because you messed up. You can always regain yourself next time if you try it again.

4. Just because you came with you’re a game to an audition and did not get a call back does not mean that your talent is not on point. So, don’t waste too many tears on it and don’t beat yourself up over it either. 

The next 3-and-a-half-hour line that you stand on, or overnight stay you spend on the bleachers in a stadium in the rain to audition, might just have your name written on it without you even knowing. So don't get discouraged from auditioning. Keep doing it. 

5. Not everyone knows the Mahalia Jackson or Peebo Bryson version of a popular song that you believe every musician should know. And not every singer can sing a blues song in the standard F key. Every voice is different. So, at least know your key so the musicians can meet your voice where it is at, appropriately; or carry a chart so this way, there is no mistaking what you are seeking as a performer in that moment. 

This actually is part of the homework. You practice the song. Also know your keys. Add the song and key to the notepad in your phone. You can’t go wrong. That way, you always have that information with you.




6. Learn some hand signals so you can lead the band. If an accompanist really gets into the song while playing, he or she might not see your face gestures telling them to stop. Cue them for where you want to go during the song. There are actual hand signals for Verse, chorus, Top of the song, bridge, vamp, end. Know what they are and use them accordingly. Better to lead them than to get mad at them while on the stage and curse them out in front of everybody because they messed you up. 

7. Keep your voice hydrated and make sure you breathe and keep those coin-sized internal instruments healthy. Remember that the vocal cords are the only instrument that God made by hand. Keep them healthy. Lubricate with water while on the stage. No, I did not say lubricate with a watered down alcoholic drink. It might dry your voice out. You might get drunk. Do you want to perform heavily under the influence? Make Sure to nurture them. 

8. Practice makes better, not perfect. The more you practice, the better you will get than what you were able to output yesterday. 

If you are like me, then you have a favorite singer or artist. I used to spend half my childhood evenings and even some as an adult, singing for countless hours, all the songs of Whitney Houston, Faith Evans, Amel Larrieux, Tamia, Brandy, Karen Clark-Sheard, Kim Barrell, Yolanda Adams, Stevie Wonder, Faith Hill, Carmen McRae and Mariah Carey to the four corners of my walls. 

Don’t limit your genre and artist engagement. Every genre has something to offer and there are more artists than the ones currently on the air waves that might benefit your capabilities as an artist if you embrace their craft as well.




Add songs of different artists and genres to your repertoire. Write your own Shakespearean Sonnet AKA Song and add that to your repertoire as well. Practice songs with a karaoke track. Practice your scales by a keyboard and if you do not have one, download a keyboard app to your phone or tablet. Use YouTube tutorials. Exercise your talent and allow it to flourish. But also rest. Even the best athlete who utilizes their muscles on a daily basis needs to rest. Practice, rest, perform, rest, practice . . .

9. Finally, smile! If you love it enough to practice it and work hard toward becoming better at what you do, smile while you are engaging your audience. Don’t think about all the dilemmas in your life while trying to burst out that tune. Sing and focus on the melody. You can also hear a smile through a song as it is being sung in the tone and texture. Smile and sing. Be focused in the song and sing it. Don’t wander off to la la land thinking about everything else in the world. Sing that song and smile. 


Be centered in the song and let the words flow through your arched-up lips. Let love breathe through that very thing you love to do if you are doing it because you truly love to. Be yourself. Be confident. And be beautiful and smile through your song. Plus, who wouldn’t enjoy seeing and relating to the beauty of a bright face delivering a melody? A smile definitely makes a difference.

Those are my thoughts on singing and a few taken from personal experiences as I mentioned my running off the stage crying once. Thank God I grew from that and continued on. Hope my ideas were helpful and I also hope that they motivated you in some way. I appreciate you sharing your time with me to read my blog post. God Bless! 

WHO AM I?

My name is Stephanie Jeannot. I was born and raised in New York City. I have Haitian roots and I am a lover of black coffee because it keeps me doing what I do.

I am a singer and writer. I write more than I sing. I write poetry, songs and music. Recently for the first time ever, I charted out a song before laying out the musical parts into my Sonar Music Suite. I am a lover of music and I love to sing. You can find out more about me by visiting my website at http://www.jnotemusic.com

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME ON:

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Warblings of a Meadowlark about Vermont

One of my goals for the year was to discover a place I have never been for each of the 12 months of 2017. Whether it was within my own city or elsewhere, I wanted to be able to see the world with a different viewpoint and so far, my eyes have taken in so much and it has been quite exciting. 

I had been dying to visit the green mountain state. I had been looking for vacation information for Vermont for a little while so that I would visit it sometime this summer, but never expected to find my way there so soon until this week while visiting beautiful Lake George which is just about a little over an hour south of Vermont. Very happy I decided to take the trek up there. I now know why they call this the greenest state in America. 


Vermont has to be one of the loveliest places I have been. It was easy to get to. Little traffic and not many cars on the road made the ride very peaceful. I drove there and it is not that far. From NYC, it is about a five-hour drive. It is said to be the seventh coldest state in the United states but luckily, it was not so bad in July. I didn’t even need my jacket to keep warm for even a little bit. 

One thing I noticed driving through Vermont was that there were barely any traffic lights. You simply drive through while ascending and descending the natural inclines of the mountains and experiencing the calmness of the green mountains.


How nice was it to breathe in the natural aroma of mountain breeze, not in a can. And cool to see the many maple farms while making our way through the different cities.  Vermont is said to be the leading producer of maple syrup.

Vermont borders Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Canada and New York. The 6th largest body of fresh water known as Lake Champlain, separates Vermont from New York. Its name, Vermont, is a French term, Les Ver Monts, named for the 15,000 feet tall green mountains that run most of the 159 miles length of the state.

My quest was to visit Bromley Mountains. It is a resort there with a cool little theme park located in Peru, VT which I was interested in visiting. And so, I did. One of the best parts of the park was a trampoline, bungee jump ride. You get on and jump about two minutes which is fun, and great exercise. 



The other is the ski lift which brings you about 1100 meters above ground and gives you a gorgeous view of the mountains while ascending. The view is even better going down. However, I chose to be a bit more adventurous and slide down the slope on the alpine slide that brings you 2/3 miles down the slope at about 35 mph +/- depending on your maneuvering ability, which I though was really cool.



Okay, I will admit it. The real reason I was so interested in seeing Vermont was to see what was so amazing about the state that caught my attention in the the unofficial state song; the haiku -like tune,  “Moonlight in Vermont,” which was written by John Blackburn and Karl Suessdorf in 1944. I wanted to experience the moonlight there so I could actually sing the song with meaning and conviction of having seen it. Vermont is such a beautiful place. I made myself at home in this very quiet oasis and Vermont became part of my heart; beautiful in so many ways. Definitely worth the visit and worth visiting again.

Traveling by Car

Knowing that the drive would be long, I made sure to carry a few snacks and drinks that we could all enjoy on the road. I know there are rest areas along the way but it is not such a bad idea to make good tasting home-made sandwiches to pack and keep fresh in a cooler that you can enjoy instead of the foods at “high way robbery” prices found at the rest stops. And so, I was pretty happy to have my 60-quart Igloo Ice Cube Roller Cooler. 



It is very spacious. I was able to put a good number of things in it and did not have to worry about it being too full or the foods going sour. The cooler fit snuggly in my car and I could easily roll it out to where we would settle for the moments when we needed a break from cruising down the Vermont 7 highway. If you are interested in getting one for your next road trip, get it at Amazon today:


Keeping the cooler cool is easy. You can simply fill it with ice and voila, your foods that need frigid temperatures are kept at a healthy temperature for a good amount of time. I however chose a different way of keeping my foods cold other than the ice. 


I decided to go with 3X Lg. Zero°F Cooler Freeze Packs 10"x14. The cooler shock replaces the ice. You simply add water to the bags, seal them and put them in the freezer. 

They take up less room and keep the contents of the cooler cold. It felt good to not have to load, empty and reload ice trays all day. The freeze packs were easy to fill, light to carry and the best part about it is that they are reusable. 

There is not too much thinking or worry involved in this which made my travels even better. These ice packs might be just the thing you need to make your next road or camping trip that much easier. Here is the link if you are interested: 




Don't worry, I will share with you about Lake George in a future post because that part of 

upstate New York is worth talking about also. I just thought it as a nice thing to have met a 

travel destination goal for this summer and to have really loved it more than I thought. 

Thankful for every moment and even more grateful to be able to share my experience. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Haitian Culture Falls Fresh On Me Like Waters From the Saut

“When you have unity. Nothing is heavy” – dad

It is weird how things come into play. Somebody says, hey try this and you do or you don’t. That’s the way it goes. You might have your own way of doing things and choose your own path. But there are times you think, hey why not and the results are amazing.

So I tried something completely different. I was Ushered into a transformative moment by my folks to write a song about Saut D’Eau (Sodo), which is located about 60 miles north of Port au Prince. Saut D’Eau is also the French word for waterfall, with this area in the Mirabalais province of Haiti being known for the most beautiful and peaceful waterfall you could find in the world.


Every year in July, there is a wonderful feast celebrated on the 16th of July known as the feast of Mount Carmel where hundreds gather to celebrate this wonderful day together. This is part of my culture. I am Haitian and was raised with knowledge of my background, traditions and the peoples from whom we came. I have been to the feast once while I was in high school and it was such a beautiful celebration. So many people. Such a great gathering of like-minded beautiful people that left me with such an amazing feeling.

I was asked to write a song about this very place. Usually, I am not one who needs direction. I write songs based on what is in my heart and that is it. But when my family asked me to do it, I did. Who knew that going with someone else’s inspiration would let the words and music shed out of me like water weight while on the treadmill at the gym.  A few hours later, the song, Saut D’Eau Song was born. I guess you can say the weight of the mission I was tasked with was not heavy because it was with my folks in mind.


I hope that you’ll check it out. It is mostly in English as my Haitian Kreyol is not the best, though I did add a few words of Kreyol here and there because I am Haitian and this song is about Haiti. Saut D’Eau Song was written and produced by Stephanie Jeannot. All lyrics, music and vocals are by Stephanie Jeannot.

  
Anyway, here is the link to the song: https://soundcloud.com/stephanay-jnote/saut-deau-song 


Thank you so much for checking out my blogpost.