2019 Artist Year in Review

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Featured Enlighten Your Lives Artists

2019 was a great year for performers at EnlightenYourLives.com. These artists reached out of their comfort zones and decided to share their passions with the world. As an artist, one of the scariest thing to do is actually share your passion. One can work on their passion for months and years and still not share it. Why don’t they share it? Most likely it’s fear. Why should an artist be afraid to share of themselves? It can be a fear of the response they will receive but also fear of rejection or being ridiculed. It’s an uncomfortable feeling to perform in front of others. But after a while, one does get used to it. When the joy of expression overcomes the fear to perform, then one is ready to share of themselves. Meet these brave Princess Warriors who have risen above the fear.

Meet Varia Strix from Washington DC

The mysterious Varia Strix

Our first featured artist is Varia Strix. Varia has a real passion for life and has many hobbies such as being an awesome photographer and a beautiful dancer. If you say, Belly Dance Workshop, she comes running. She is a pleasure to know and she gets a lot of credit for being courageous enough to be the first featured dancer to be interviewed in 2019. We wish Varia continued success in 2020. To learn more about Varia you may read the full article here.https://enlightenyourlives.com/2019/08/18/meet-washington-dc-bellydancer-varia-strix/

Valeria Star Singing in French

Performing in June 2019

Valeria Star sings an emotional rendition of Les Feuilles Mortes/Autumn Leaves. During a live performance, like life, you never know what’s going to happen. She practiced, she sang, she cried and went home. Valeria Star has been singing since a child but she started training and studying voice in 2014. Valeria hopes to sing and dance for the rest of her life. Let’s wish her continued success in 2020. https://enlightenyourlives.com/2019/06/23/valerie-estrella-didnt-think-she-would-break-down-an-emotional-rendition-of-autumn-leaves-les-feuilles-mortes/

Meet Beautiful Vanessa Montoya from Texas

Vanessa Montoya

Vanessa is a talented and beautiful yoga teacher and dancer that is active in her Texas community teaching dance and yoga. A real princess warrior that is also a healer. We want to thank Vanessa for sharing her passion and joy with the world. We also wish Vanessa continued in 2020 and beyond. Here is the full article.

Meet Nor Cal Dancer Valeria Star

Hanging with her favorite Trees

Valeria Star from Nor Cal loves to dance and sing. In this article Valeria shares her passion for dance. She’s been dancing over 40 years and doesn’t intend to stop anytime soon. She encourages everyone to follow their passions whatever they might be. Click here for full article.

Here’s Shilly from United Kingdom

A captivating creative artist

Shilly is talented on multiple levels. She’s a fashion designer, dancer and also makes some delicious cacao drinks that one day will be tasted in UK. Shilly directed this captivating video that is highly recommend for everyone to watch. Shilly also teaches belly dance in her community and she gets extra credit for getting kicked out of ballet. We want to wish Shilly much success in 2020 and want to thank her for sharing her passion with us. Full article is https://enlightenyourlives.com/2019/11/10/meet-dancer-shilly-nakedmoon/.

Anna Puts Hungary on the Map

A Beautiful Dancer, Annamaria

Finally meet Annamaria from Hungary. She is such a talented dancer. She really knows how to draw in an audience and keep their attention. It’s obvious she knows how to dance and really commands the stage. It’s not an easy thing as a soloist to keep the audience engaged. But her athleticism and beautiful flowing movements are superb. Bravo to Anna and we wish her a successful future in all she does. Don’t miss this one or well, you’ll miss out. https://enlightenyourlives.com/2019/11/18/meet-dancer-annamaria-benko-fothy/

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Thank you again to all the beautiful people that contributed to this article. Keep it up in 2020 because the world needs more of your passion, joy and light. Here’s to an awesome and safe New Year!!

Singing About Trees

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In December 2019 the opportunity to perform at a local Christmas Tree Lighting resulted in this performance. Trees are so lovely and a Christmas Tree magnifies their beauty. Singing about trees can make you feel glorious!

This song was rehearsed for about three weeks. It was originally not going to be published because of the artists dislike for the performance but after a musician friend gave it the thumbs up, Valeria decided to release it.

Accompanied by the talented Alina Adams

Hopefully we can find the time to enjoy the beautiful lights this holiday season.

Valeria in Nor Cal Wishing everyone a Happy Holiday Season and a Merry Christmas!!

Four Years Progress in Voice

In 2015 Valeria sings I’m Not That Girl from Wicked

Valeria did not intend to sing at all. She had signed up her daughter for voice lessons with Alina’s Music Studio but in 2014, her daughter had a change of heart and did not want to continue with her lessons. Since Valeria had already paid, she decided to take the classes in her daughter’s place. After a month she decided to stick with it even though it was difficult and painful at times to hear the sounds that would come out of her mouth. There are many things going on when someone sings and often times it’s nerves and also just allowing the body to get used to breathing and letting the sound to flow out of your body. It’s a strange process which is recommended for everyone.

In 2017 Valeria sings Time and Tide by Basia

Don’t ask why but for some reason after singing I’m Not That Girl, Valeria decided to take a break only to resume again in 2017. It was very much like starting over again. It’s not recommended to take a break from singing EVER!! Valeria sang this song at her 50th Birthday Party. She prepared six months for performance and even worked with a dance teacher on choreography.

This was one fun night!! There’s dancing in this one too.

Merry Christmas Darling in 2017

This is such a great song!!!!!!!!!!!!! Carpenter’s are amazing and this was a great song to learn and sing. Once you learn how to sing a song, it pretty much gets tattooed on your brain. That’s not scientific but you can pretty much sing it by memory. Although sometimes the words can get jumbled up and if you ever forget it, it won’t be for long because your new mission will be to learn what you forgot.

I hope Karen Carpenter listens to this from Heaven and knows how much she’s loved.

Shatter Me in 2018

Valeria was asked how she picked this song and said, “I went on a road trip and listened to this song over and over and I knew I had to learn it. I was lucky to have a violinist accompany me although she did not want to be on camera. This was a challenging song and singing with the violinist live was very difficult. Imagine singing with someone banging a sledge hammer. That’s what it felt like at first but then you learn how to tune it out. I still love this song although it was a challenging piece in my opinion.”

Silent Night 2018

It’s Christmas time so who doesn’t love a traditional Christmas song?

I wish everyone a Silent Night EVERYNIGHT!!!

Singing in French Can Be Different

In 2018 Valeria sang Les Feuilles Mortes/ Autumn Leaves. It’s a very beautiful song!! It’s about a love you once had that has gone away. Valeria thought about her brother who passed away and broke down towards the end of the song. But according to her music teacher, Alina, it’s called passion. Valeria says, “This was a beautiful song to learn and I’m glad i sang it. I also had an amazing pianist to accompany me. Thank you Camille!! XOXO.”

This is a beautiful song.

Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again

The only reason this is being published is to remind everyone to stay humble and also realize that the things you sing can have a profound effect on your mood. This song was starting to make Valeria way too sad. Also if you consider that her father had a stroke and is not doing so well. Valeria stated, “It makes me very sad to sing this song. It was also very high and my voice wasn’t feeling it. We also only worked on this song for about a month and then recorded it which is not nearly enough time to really master. But tis is what tis is. PS MY TEACHER WANTED TO RE-RECORD BUT I WAS DONE WITH THIS SONG.”

Ouch this can be painful to hear. It’s too high!!

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious gave me back my joy

After Phantom Of the Opera, she really needed something happy. This song is very fast, tongue twisting and very lively. Valeria indicated “It’s not a perfect performance. We worked on this for about a month. It was fun to sing and I forever know how to spell Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Want to know why? Watch video.

Will You Consider Sharing Your Gifts?

Why is Valeria even doing these videos? She decided that she wanted to have this recorded for her future. One day when she is old she can look back and reminisce about these days. Also her father was a musician and unfortunately, there is no video of his amazing performances. Valeria doesn’t want that to happen to her. Also she encourages everyone to share their gifts. Not perfect? Who is?

Valeria is a Health and Wellness Coach living in Nor Cal. She encourages everyone to follow their dreams. Life goes fast. May as well live boldly.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, A Challenging Vocal Arrangement

In 2019 I got caught in a vortex of singing sad songs. From January to June 2019 it was Autumn Leaves which as you may know is a song about lost love. It’s a beautiful song but I had a big of a melt down in my performance but hey, life goes on.

Then I went to Oregon and picked up some music from Phantom of the Opera. My voice teacher recommended, Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again. A song about a woman’s dead father and how she wished he was still here. Another song that was a bit of a downer. Some of the lyrics include: “Too many years fighting back tears, why can’t the past just die.” And “No more memories, no more silent tears, no more gazing across the wasted years. Help me say goodbye.” Another tear jerker of a song. I did record it but the music was a little too high for my range and my teacher wanted to adjust it and re-record. I said, no thanks. I never want to sing that song again.

This song will make anyone sad.

Then my teacher suggested, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and I said OK. So we started to work on it. I had been feeling a little tired lately so I stopped doing scheduled cardio. I kind of wanted to see what it felt like to just have my daily living activities be my cardio. So I backed off on the cardio. I’m not going to say that was a good idea. But hey I can’t go back now. Life is all an experiment anyway. Also I’m not going to say my water intake was real good either. OK that’s all I’m going to say about that. I wish I was perfect but I’m not. I’m human and LIVE AND LEARN BABY!!

So I sang the song and it’s allegro which means very fast. It’s also a tongue twister in some parts and it has some advanced vocal arrangements. I was able to finish the song but it was not perfect. OK what can I say other than I know I need to breathe more and drink more warm beverages.

So here I am singing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. How do I know how to spell the song without looking it up? Well if you listen to the song you will hear me spell it out VERY FAST.

I wish everyone a lot of courage and bravery to do whatever it is you want. I’ve been told that I have “Big Balls” multiple times. By my mom’s friend, Tony and by my friend, Ferrah. So I guess it’s true. I’m going ahead and saying it’s not perfect so you will know but that doesn’t mean I need to hear negative comments. It’s like, I can say it, but you can’t sort of thing. But as far as effort goes, I get an A PLUS.

I wish you a Happy November. Have fun!! Do what you want. Relax and breathe. If you need help, ask for it. You deserve whatever you want. But you gotta go for it.

Bye for now Sweetie Pie.

Valeria is a Health and Wellness Coach in Northern California. She’s sharing her journey and dreams and encourages everyone to do the same. May as well have fun with the time we’re here.

Valeria Star Didn’t Think She would Break Down…An emotional Rendition of Autumn Leaves/Les Feuilles Mortes

Valeria Star began preparation for this performance in August 2018. Alina, her Maestra presented it to her and she instantly liked it. At first she only worked on the English version but then later decided to add the French version to the beginning of the song.

The event was the 15th anniversary of Alina’s Music Studio and Alina had put so much time and thought into her event. It was a fundraiser and it was called Classics and Super Heros. Alina who is a violinist and actually a multi-media artist because she can, sing, dance, play violin, conduct and she did the media displays. You know the back drop behind all the singers. She did that too.

Valeria does not speak French so she relied on YouTube videos and then she found out that she did not have the correct pronunciation after all . So it turned out that her friend Farrah who coincidentally was a French Major at University of Hawaii was able to coach her and this was the end result. Alina also provided correct pronunciation but you know friends always come through for you in the end.

Thanks for watching and it would make me happy if you share this video and subscribe to my YouTube Channel. Thank You… Special thanks to Camille for the accompaniment.

People asked Valeria how she rehearsed the crying. “It was not rehearsed at all.” Valeria said, “I wasn’t nervous to perform until I went out on stage. As soon as walked out it was pitch black in the audience and then I started to feel nervous and I could feel my stomach start shaking. Camille, the Pianist was getting set up and I instantly engaged my entire core and I knew I had to make it through the song. My legs were literally trembling. Towards the end, I just lost it. I thought about my brother, Chris who passed away in 2006. When I sang, “Since you went away, the days grew long” I thought of Chris and by the time I got to “But I miss you most of all, that’s when I couldn’t hold it together anymore.”

As soon as she came off stage her fellow singers and musicians ran to meet her and hug her and give Valeria a lot of support. One violinist just said, “I was so nervous I couldn’t feel my hands. They were numb.” And they hugged her. It really made Valeria feel so much better. “These teenage musicians were so kind and supportive of me during a scary time. It’s not everyday you cry in front of people. And how people treat you after you cry is even more important.” These musicians had such compassion. It was really beautiful to see and it gives me much hope about humanity.”

When Valeria saw Alina she said, “I wasn’t able to finish the song.” Alina said without blinking an eye. The woman who literally does not miss a beat or a breath or a timing, said, “You felt the passion of the music and expressed it.” And then she ran off to take a picture with DeadPoole. Valeria knew it would be OK…

Valerie is a Health Coach that lives in Northern California. She’s sharing her passion for music in June 2019. She’s also a Health Coach and encourages everyone to follow their dreams.

Tension Is the Enemy of a Singer, Part 1: Jaw Tension

Originally published on Backstage.com on By Arden Kaywin

Tension Is the Enemy of a Singer, Part 1 Jaw Tension

One very important concept for any singer to remember is that your body is your instrument, not your vocal cords. Anything that negatively impacts the open flow of energy and sound through your body will negatively effect the quality of your singing. Chief among these is physical tension. Tension is the enemy of the singer because it blocks the free flow of energy, breath, and sound throughout the body, necessary for communication.

When a new singer comes to work with me, one of the very first things I do is to help them become aware of any physical tensions they have that are getting in the way of their most efficient production of sound. Mother Nature gave humans an incredibly efficient mechanism for producing sound, but singers often do not trust it. Instead, they develop habits which they believe help control their

create all sorts of tensions that negatively impact the sound they are trying to improve.

The most common tensions I see singers dealing with are jaw tension, neck tension and tongue tension. In my next three articles, I will explore each of these tensions, how and why they creep in, and I’ll give you some simple tips and exercises you can do to release them. Let’s start with jaw tension.

If you have trouble with your higher register, one of the culprits might be that you are trying to grab and control the notes with your jaw. If the jaw is not free, then your ability to stretch your soft palate is compromised, as soft palate stretch is necessary to access your upper register successfully. The more locked and controlling your jaw is, the less you can expand into your soft palate for those higher notes. We need to have a free and fluid jaw while singing. Most singers do not even realize they have been locking or holding, because they have never felt it any other way. Here is an exercise to access more freedom in the jaw and let go of tension.

Find a soft, easy smile and let the jaw hang in that smile. Remember that when we talk about the jaw, we’re really just talking about the two hinges on either side of your head in front of your ears (don’t mistake the jaw for the chin). From this easy smile, allow the jaw hinges to soften and open. The feeling will be one of the jaw hanging down and back as you smile. Do not hold your jaw in this position; it should feel free and softly hanging. Keep the energy of the easy smile by feeling your ears widening away from each other. Then, alternate between chanting “ya-ya-ya” and “la-la-la” on a single pitch as you go down a five-note scale. You want the tongue to be doing the work of moving to change the vowels and consonants, not the jaw. We need the tongue and jaw to be able to move independently of one another. If you find your jaw locking, closing, or moving up and down in tandem with the tongue as you change consonants, then close your mouth, swallow, take a nose breath into a smile, feel your ears widening, then let the jaw drop again and resume. Doing this exercise in front of a mirror can be helpful as well.

Arden Kaywin

Arden Kaywin is voice teacher, vocal coach, and vocal producer in Los Angeles with over 10 years experience working with developing singers and nearly 20 years as a professional singer herself. She holds a master’s degree in music and vocal performance from the Manhattan School of Music in NYC, where she studied classical voice and opera.

Sing Like Nobody is Watching

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Recently I did a performance and many people were telling me that they admired my courage to sing in front of people.  I told them that I just decided that I was going to be brave and not worry about what other people think.

I read a really good book which I highly recommend for anyone that wants to pursue their dreams or goals.  The main thing I got from this book was that you have to do what makes you happy and forget about what everyone else thinks or says.  Also if someone criticizes you, then tell them to come and do a better job.  So that attitude really resonated with me.  The name of that book is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.  

big magic

Just to be clear that I am a student.  I am not a professional.  My preparation to sing this song began about 11 months prior when I first started listening to this song by Lindsey Stirling called Shatter Me and I just really fell in  love with that song.  I listened to that song over and over on a road trip.

I wasn’t sure I would be able to sing that song because it seemed like a difficult song to me.  I spoke to my voice teacher and she said, “Let’s do it in G Minor.”  So I got the music and we started working on it in December 2017.  It was very brutal at first.  Just painful to listen to.  But I just kept working on it.

After a while I asked my music teacher if maybe someone could accompany me on the violin.  So she was able to find an advanced student to accompany me.  (Please note that she did not want to be videotaped.  We had to actually edit her out because she did not want to have her images on the web.  But Rebekah is beautiful and an amazing violinist.)  The first time we rehearsed together was brutal.  Imagine trying to sing with someone banging drums right in your ear.  I couldn’t believe how thrown off I was.  My music teacher said it’s completely normal.  When the violin accompanies me, I was listening to her play and my timing was off and it was way more difficult than I thought.  It’s like I am distracting her by singing and she was distracting me by playing the violin.  The thing is we had to be in sync with our timing.

wood music classic sound

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In any event this is the results of the preparation.  I watched numerous George Michael Videos.  I became a bit obsessed with him (which is a completely different story.) In any case this is the result.  Thanks for watching and any kind words are appreciated.  Also remember I am a student.  Think of your kid that’s been singing for a couple of years.  T

Valerie is a Health and Wellness Coach. She has a passion for singing, dancing and following her heart. She encourages everyone to do the same.  Please subscribe to her Youtube channel and Follow Enlighten Your Lives to support everyone’s dreams.  Namaste

How to set Dreams and Goals for 2018

Happy-New-Year-Wishes-2018-1

Well 2017 has come and gone.  This was an amazing year.  I feel like I really lived it.  Some years let’s just be honest have been terrible.  This year for me personally was really good.  I had the following major accomplishments: RETIREMENT, AMBER DOG, Performances and I’ve been able to keep my sanity for the most part.

I looked over my goals for 2017 and I have to say that I have stuck with them.  That just means I need to continue to add to my goals.  I mean if I could nail the goals for 2017 then I can surely continue to nail the goals for 2018.

Since I’ve retired my focus has shifted.  I was super stressed when I was working and now that I’ve retired it’s time for me to get serious about relaxation and just settling into my groove.  Retirement is a Huge Adjustment and unless you’ve done it, I don’t think you quite get it.val_edited-9177

      This is me thinking about positive thoughts.  Give it a try and see what happens.

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to give me a way to focus my energy in a positive manner.

So how do you set goals anyway?

  1. Keep it simple.  Make too many goals and you end up not doing anything.
  2. It doesn’t need to have anything to do with fitness or health.  This is a popular resolution but you can set whatever goal or dream you want.  This is your chance to really get creative with your dreams and try to figure out exactly what it is that you want anyway.
  3. Write it down.  Perhaps your resolution could be to start journaling.  If you have never journaled or not for a while, this is a great time to start.
  4. Tell someone what your goal is with the hope that you can get some accountability and also once you tell someone, it reinforces your goal because you are discussing it.
  5. Day dream about your goals.  What would it look like if you had this?  How would you feel?  Imagine it’s already yours and be happy knowing that it’s coming into fruition.

Feel free to comment below with some of your dreams and goals.  Remember the more you talk about it, the more likely it will happen.  So I’ll go ahead and get this party started by sharing my dreams and goals for 2018.

  • Daily yoga (at least 10 minutes)
  • Meditation at least 3 days per week but the more the better
  • Dance daily at least 20 minutes
  • Write daily at least 20 minutes
  • Go on a plane for vacation
  • Shop local, vegan diet and breathe through all difficulties
  • Transform my guest bedroom.
  • Keep singing

VAL DANCING FOR RONI

This is me dancing at my party and having fun.  This is what dreams look like.  Just do it.

Now see that wasn’t so difficult.  Well here’s to an amazing 2018.  Don’t worry about all the drama that’s going on in the world.  You allow what comes into your reality.  Choose wisely.

Merry Christmas Darling

Can you believe it’s Christmas again?  Isn’t that what everyone always says.  There are two types of people around Christmas time.  Those that get all into the Christmas spirit with the decorations, presents, holiday parties etc and there are the other folks who bide their time until December 26.  I’ll let you guess what type of category I fit into.

This year is my first Christmas with my puppy, Amber.  So needless to say I’ve been spending quite a bit of time with her house training and getting her on a schedule.  It’s really like having a baby all over again.  I think I could have new parents hire Amber to puppy proof their house.  She will find every piece of plastic, glass, rock or choking hazard.  So needless to say, I am constantly catching her with stuff in her mouth.

So long story short is, I didn’t decorate a whole lot this year.  I wasn’t sure where I was going to put the tree and so I just got a really small tree and didn’t do a whole lot of shopping either (except for Amber).  I made quite a few gifts: bath bombs, granola and actually one of my gifts is the song: Merry Christmas Darling.

This is my fantasy Christmas decorations.  It’s nice to Dream

I sang this song at Merriment on Main.   I started working on this in October (you have to prepare way in advance).  Christmas songs in October just isn’t my favorite thing.  I mean that’s even way before Thanksgiving.  But I have always loved Karen Carpenter from the Carpenter’s and I really enjoyed rehearsing this song.

When you sing live, you just never know how it’s going to turn out.  Maybe you’ll forget the words or won’t hit the right notes.  But it’s always a thrill.

So here’s my rendition of Merry Christmas Darling.  Wishing you all a Merry Christmas Darling

Valerie is a Yoga Instructor, Health and wellness Coach.  Her hobbies include singing and dancing.  She lives in Northern California with her daughter and puppy. You can contact her at enlightenyourlives.com/contact.

How I Became a Singer

 

Music has a way of being influential.  As a young child music was always being played growing up.  Having a music teacher, John DeDios Barron, for a father has many pros and cons.  An alleged pro is being exposed to many different formats.  The con is hearing the same song over and over and over.  Many times the music would be classical or jazz.  Mexican music was played regularly as well since he was a Mariachi as well.  My father could play the trumpet and piano very well.  However later in life he took up violin and that was just painful.  Wow!!  Also the volume of music could be very loud.

A regular scenario was trying to watch Gilligan’s Island to all of a sudden hearing, Brick House hella loud.  And forget about thinking you’re going to get your way and watch the rest of the show. TV time was just over.  That was a definite Con.

music therapy

Piano was offered as my father was a music teacher.  However I wasn’t feeling the whole piano thing with my dad so I rejected the concept and instead focused on dance.  I didn’t think I had the music gene until recently it has been awakened.

My daughter was taking voice lessons and she was being much towards me as I was towards my dad which was rejecting the voice lessons provided for her.  She was rejecting voice lessons and when she was  done, she was done.  So having already paid for the lessons, I decided that I would take the voice lessons in her place.  That was in 2014.

 

 

At first I was pretty terrible.  I had to learn so much and anyway I just kept going to class.  One thing I noticed was that the singing made me feel very happy.  It became music therapy for me.  So I kept taking the classes but then took a break in 2015.  I took it up again last March 2017 and decided to work towards my goal which was to sing at my retirement party.  Which I did.

Singing is very physical.  One thing I struggle with is singing and looking relaxed  You know like it’ the easiest thing to do.  Effortlessness.

Your body becomes your instrument and I have to keep it really strong if I want to continue to sing.  But it is very therapeutic to sing.  I would recommend it to anyone.  It did not come natural for me but it absolutely comes natural for my daughter.  Now if I can only figure out how to get her singing again.

In any case I am going to stick with it for now as it is a positive outlet and lord knows we all need that.soy milk(This is here just to see if anyone sees this.  I thought this was so funny!!!  Never thought about Soy Milk being in Spanish.  lol