Soprano & Voice Teacher, North York, Toronto, (Don Mills & Sheppard)


I'd like to share on this blog things that inspired me (relating to music, singing & vocal pedagogy) - hopefully they will inspire you too! Frequency - about once a month. You are welcome to leave your comments and suggestions or e-mail me.

I will also publish in this blog events and performances and you are also welcome to visit my official website or voice studio website. Happy reading and singing!

~ Miriam

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Under construction

This blog hasn't been active for a while, hope to be back soon!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bats? Butterflies?

Join us for Puccini's heartbreakingly beautiful Madama Butterfly, and for Die Fledermaus, the giddy Viennese comic confection by waltz king Johann Strauss. Fledermaus (the title might best be translated as "Going Batty!") will be sung in English, and Butterfly in Italian with English supertitles.

View this Event on Facebook

Madama Butterfly

Feb 16, 19, 25, March 2 & 5 at 7:30 pm
Also Feb 27 at 2 pm.

Die Fledermaus

Feb 18, 23, 26, March 4 at 7:30 pm.
Also Feb 20 & March 6 at 2 pm.

All performances at Bickford Centre Theatre, 777 Bloor St. West, Toronto, ON M6G 1L5 (Christie subway station)
Click here for map

Tickets: Adults: $25 / Students and seniors: $15 (tickets are good for any of the performances - you can pick your date at any time after purchasing!)
Order tickets: directly from Miriam (416-477-7461 / / or 416-978-8849 or

Additional info:

My inspiration for this performance (Fledermaus) comes from the wonderful cast and from this incredible recording / DVD, with amazing singers-actors. This recording made me a hug fan of the wonderful Carlos Kleiber

Johann Strauss: Die Fledermaus

To get a good taste of this glorious music of Johann Strauss and of Kleiber - you can watch Die Fledermaus Overture on youtube. Guaranteed to uplift your soul and bring sunshine into your darkest days!
Interesting that he (Strauss) chose to put ensemble music only in the overtures and not arias. There are not many arias, but it makes sense... The ensemble music moves the plot along and is reponsible for all the mood changes: fake melodramatic farewell, party, zest, mischief, glorious waltz music and more...

Fledermaus cast:

Rosalinda: Jacqueline McIntyre (Feb 20, 23, March 4) / Tetyana Shkymba (Feb 18, Feb 26, March 6)
Adele: Angela DiSerio (Feb 18, Feb 23, March 6) / Miriam Tikotin (Feb 20, Feb 26, March 4)
Eisenstein: Jay Lambie
Alfred: William Parker
Dr. Blind: William Parker
Dr. Falke: Beatrice Carpino
Frank: Gerald Hannon (Feb 18, Feb 26, March 6) / Giovanni Minardi (Feb 20, Feb 23, March 4)
Sally: Kathleen McBride (Feb 18, Feb 26, March 6) / Lynne Shuttleworth (Feb 20, Feb 23, March 4)
Frosch: David Roche
Orlofsky: Elizabeth McLeod (Feb 18, Feb 26, March 6) / Renee Sekula (Feb 20, Feb 23, March 4)

Chorus: Don Ballanger, Larry Blas, Alicia I. Bulwik, Elaine Chak, Silvia Croci, Angela Di Serio, Sergio Emer, Carol Fox, Carrie Gray, Gerald Hannon, Susan Hyttenrauch, Heather Jamieson, Youngran Jo, Karen Johnston, Maria Lee, Vivien Mann, James Matthews, Kathleen McBride, Jacqueline McIntyre, Elizabeth McLeod, Soonhae Park, William Parker, Peter Price, Jennifer Rasor, William Redelmeier, Robert Rimsay, M.Renée Sekula, Tetyana Shkymba, Lynne Shuttleworth, Ana Smiljanic, Henry Tang, Sandra Tang, Miriam Tikotin, Tiffany Tobias, Elsie Wawrzkiewicz, Kathy Wert, Sybil Wilkinson, Monika Zagorska, Patriziya Zlateva

Director: Beatrice Carpino
Conductor: Adolfo De Santis
Pianist: Rina KimHyewon
Rehearsal Pianist: Rina KimHyewon
Stage Manager: Kelsey Rae
Assistant Stage Managers: Christie Kidd
Make-up Artist: Beatrice Carpino
Lighting Design: Chris Humphrey
Stage Crew: Robert Balogh, Gabriel Graziano
Set Design: Giuseppe Macina

Butterfly cast:

Cio-Cio San (Butterfly): Carrie Gray (Feb 25, March 2, March 5) / Jennifer Rasor (Feb 16, 19, 27)
Suzuki: Elizabeth McLeod
Pinkerton: Jay Lambie
Sharpless: Gerald Hannon
Goro: William Parker
Prince Yamadori: Giovanni Minardi
Bonze: Robert Maxwell
Imperial Commissioner: Giovanni Minardi
Kate Pinkerton: Kathleen McBride (Feb 19, Feb 27, March 2) / Lynne Shuttleworth (Feb 16, Feb 25, Mar 5)
Trouble: Alexzander Stinson

Chorus: Don Ballanger, Larry Blas, Alicia I. Bulwik, Elaine Chak, Silvia Croci, Angela Di Serio, Sergio Emer, Carrie Gray, Bradley Hoover, Susan Hyttenrauch, Karen Johnston, Maria Lee, James Matthews, Rob Maxwell, Kathleen McBride, Jacqueline McIntyre, Soonhae Park, Peter Price, Jennifer Rasor, William Redelmeier, Robert Rimsay, M.Renée Sekula, Tetyana Shkymba, Ana Smiljanic, Henry Tang, Sandra Tang, Miriam Tikotin, Elsie Wawrzkiewicz, Kathy Wert, Monika Zagorska, Patriziya Zlateva

Director: Giuseppe Macina
Conductor: Adolfo De Santis
Pianist: Rina KimHyewon
Rehearsal Pianist: Rina KimHyewon
Stage Manager: Kelsey Rae
Assistant Stage Managers: Christie Kidd
Supertitles: Gerald Hannon
Make-up Artist: Beatrice Carpino
Lighting Design: Chris Humphrey
Lighting Board: Chris Lea
Stage Crew: Robert Balogh, Gabriel Graziano
Set Design: Giuseppe Macina
Supertitles Operator: Barbara Thomson

Sunday, September 26, 2010

French Recital - Saturday October 2nd 2010, 6 PM

Works by Machaut, Hahn, Gounod, Chausson, Fauré, Debussy, Satie, Monnot (Piaf) and more.

Saturday, October 2nd 2010, 6 PM
$8 advance; $14 door
Bloor Street United Church
300 Bloor St. West, Toronto
(between St. George and Spadina Subway Stations)

Click here for detailed programme, full texts and translations. You can print or purchase programme at the concert to cover printing costs (limited number of programmes will be available).

Contact to order your tickets in advance.
Click here to view the event on Facebook.

Among ticket buyers an exclusive hand-made piece of Silver Ponds jewellery by Y. Stern will be drawn!
(when joining our mailing list)

Sponsored by Y. Stern Jewelry & Judaica Designer:

Y. Stern, Jewelry and Judaica Designer

The Voice Capabilities

The human voice has such a wide range of capabilities. Some say that if a person can mimic the sounds of all animals - they can sing ANYTHING (I have the cow, sheep and fish more or less under control, so I'm on my way!).
I'd like to share with you a few examples of singers and composers who extended the conservative definition of vocal production.
First - the lovely Cathy Berberian who composed and performed Stripsody.

If you can't view the video, click here.
(and thanks to Rony Weiser who sang it recently and reminded me of this wonderful singer!)

There are other interesting interpretations, for example view Diana Gamet; she also explains nicely about the piece before singing it.

The range and variety of sounds produced by Yma Sumac:

If you can't view the video, click here.

Another interesting piece that shows her exceptional vocal range and colors (but not so many "special effects" of the voice) can be found here. I wonder what would have happened had she became a classical singer - which fach category would she fall into...

An interesting study has been done by composer Michael Edward Edgerton. I wouldn't try those effects without close guidance of someone who knows what they are doing, as I think some of the vocal effects could be imitated in a way that may cause vocal damage. The composer assured me that:
"...this piece is the result of very focused training - so the parts that have the loud aggressive tones are produced through high air flow with a very relaxed glottis. So, in this case, there is no damage being done to the system. If the singer starts to apply excessive tension, then problems will begin to appear..."

If you can't view the video, click here.

Overtone singing, sometimes called "throat singing" is a method when a singer sings quite low in his/her range, usually on one pitch, and then a very high whistle-like unrelated melody is created simultaneously. At first I did not believe it is possible, until I heard the breath and how both "voices" stopped at the exact same moment. Click here to view a video demonstrating the different techniques of overtone singing (nose, upper jaw, chest, etc.)
It is easier to hear the overtones in the following video:

If you can't view the video, click here.
Here is an explanation on how to "throat sing". I didn't really try it, but if you are curious - you can try. I do not know if it harms the vocal chords or not - so proceed with caution!

I don't like it. At all. And even though I would not encourage anyone to go and scream - it would not be right to not include that kind of possibility of voice production in this post. I do find Melissa Cross interesting. She's a vocal instructor who specializes in teaching "screaming". And maybe, just maybe, this could be done without damage. I like her because of her energy and passion, because her own voice sounds clear and healthy (at least when she speaks), because they say about her that she "screams" softly, which probably means less or no damage. I am not too impressed with many of her students' vocal production, but they may have been worse before they came to her...

If you can't view the video, click here.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Vibration, Resonance and Bi-Noises by Lamperti

From Vocal Wisdom:
Maxims of Giovanni Battista Lamperti

Vibration, Resonance and Bi-Noises

Always remember that what "goes on" above the throat are illusions no matter how real they may feel and sound.

At the same time, observe that these illusions of the senses of touch and hearing are the only proofs that the throat is functioning normally and efficiently.

The more evident the sensation of resonance in the cavities of head and mouth, the better the "placement" of voice.

The more ringing the sound of vibration in the bones of head and mouth, the better the production of tone.

Both resonance and vibration must finally "take possession" of the cavities and bones of head, mouth (and in low tones the chest) and be permanently resident there.

Many times the bi-noises of the voice are inevitable.

Those caused by phlegm, emphasis, emotional effects, declamatory exclamations, aspirated emission, exaggerated pronunciation, etc., should not prevent the vibration and resonance of the voice from filling head and mouth and in low tones the chest.

Bi-noises do not "carry" and are unnoticed by an audience, if the succeeding resonance is rich and the following vibration ringing.

Vibration and resonance can cover a multitude of noises.

If preparing to sing does not straighten you up like a soldier, some essential part of your anatomy is not taking part.

While objectivity predominates, this feeling begins at the feet.

When subjectivity rules it commences in the head.

Giovanni Battista Lamperti was an Italian singing teacher and son of the singing teacher Francesco Lamperti. Free scores by Giovanni Battista Lamperti can be found in the International Music Score Library Project or you can purchase them online here.

Singing in Company

Watch this hilarious video of what NOT to do when singing in company (or solo). Unfortunately it is so true...

If you can't view the video, click here.

This ensemble, I Fagiolini, is a great inspiration for me (I saw them live). Not because of their musicality and technique (which are great) but for their inventive and creative ability. There are many ensembles who can sing this music, each with their own interpretation, but they go a step further and aim to create an experience which goes beyond music. They find innovative ways to make their music more meaningful using different means of arts and technology; for example drama or sound engineering. Yes, they can be viewed as plain gimmicks, but I think those "gimmicks" allow the audience to view the old pieces in a new light which is more relevant to their current life.

Purists may claim that those "gimmicks" are there to "cover up" for an inability to pass the message of the composer (and poet) in a more abstract way. Others may say that some pieces have been performed so many times that one has to pour new meaning into them or they will forever be compared to that one perfect recording done in 1954 by X. What do you think is the role of the performer (other than get attention, dress nicely and have notorious temper tantrums)? Comments are welcome!

Back to School (back to flu and colds!)

So, we're back to school.
And we're back to flu and cold season.
And with it we become frustrated, scared, and very very annoyed.


These are tips based on my own experience and I have no training whatsoever in this field. So if you follow this advice and do damage to yourself - do not even attempt to sue me. You will face a dreadful bad luck (unless of course you forward a lot of chain letters including this newsletter to everyone on your mailing list and do a hula hoop dance in the rain for 23 seconds while wearing an orange hat).
Always use good judgment and check with your doctor or certified herbalist or reliable sources before you decide to take or not take any medication or action or herb or natural remedies. Bla bla bla...


Click here to read the best advise for singers that I found so far written by Dr. Francoise P. Chagnon, FRCS. It was written on 1997, things may have changed since then. Some of the information is not very comforting, but it is the truth.
Some information about colds and other vocal health issues is available here. I love licorice and it works wonderful for me - but it doesn't work for everyone and may not be healthy for you.
If you are a natural-remedies freak - you may like the blog Superior Vocal Health written by David Aaron Katz, singer, nutritional consultant, Herbalist and Reiki practitioner.
Take care and remember to cherish the days that you are vocally healthy - and practice :-)

Would love to hear what works for you (and what doesn't) - you're welcome to leave comments!