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Mar 11

Solofest Competition Time

By billalpert | Events , voice

The 2009 San Bernardino County Music Educators Association Solofest will be held on April 4, with finals on April 11. You can find more information online in this document. The application form can be found here.

Interested students should download the application and send it (along with application fee) directly to the SBCMEA by March 20. Additional information and a contact e-mail can be found on this page.

We encourage everyone who has two polished and prepared selections to participate. There are age categories from 4th grade through high school. If you choose to participate, please let us know!

Remember, if you’d like to receive early notification of updates to the studio website, just sign up for e-mail notification by following Subscribe to The Alpert Studio of Voice and Violin by Email this link

Feb 09

Custom Made Chin Rests for Violin and Viola

By billalpert | Events , violin

The Alpert Studio, in association with Frish and Denig of Fairfax, Virginia, is proud to offer custom chin rest fitting.

A historical first in the string world, this unique fitting process is designed to enhance physical comfort and therefore, technique and sound. The Alpert Studio is proud to serve the Central Coast  California area.

In most cases, a custom fitted chin rest will eliminate or minimize the need for a shoulder rest, and will create a healthier, more intimate and more comfortable playing experience. Fitting is currently available for 4/4 and 3/4 size violins, as well as fractional instruments for kids.

For additional information, visit our chin rest page.

Jan 31

An exciting February

By billalpert | Events , Student News , Studio News , voice

February 3 Ariel Fazekas will be performing with the Pioneer Jr. High Choir at Disneyland.

February 5,6,7David Nicholson will be featured in the Upland High School Production of The Fantasticks. Performances at 7:30 p.m.

February 13 – Broadway Experience performs at Disneyland

Friday, Saturday Sunday, Feb 20-22 – Honk Jr. the Musical Dessert Theater presented by Broadway Experience. Show times: Friday, 7:30 p.m. Saturday 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday 2:00 p.m. Limited seating. Directed by Bonnie Kovar, Musical Direction by Brandon Alpert and Choreography by Cesar Quintero.
Tickets available in advance at Theatre Company.

February 26-27 – Los Osos High School’s Broadway Nights featuring Sarah Jackson, Maggie Anderson and Marissa Henkel. Tickets available at the box office and presale from students.

February 27-28, March 1 – Lindsay Rupp will perform Citrus College Musical Theater Workshop’s production of The Wizard of Oz.

Coming in March:

March 7 – Alpert Studio Students field trip to see the Met production of Madame Butterfly in live HD at one of our local theaters. Stay tuned for details.

Please remember to come out and support your fellow studio students in their performing endeavors.

Jan 18

Keeping Your Voice Healthy for a Lifetime

By Melanie Alpert | voice

I came across this article in Backstage, about the work of one of the most well respected vocal pathologists in the world, Dr. Ingo Titze. I’ve been following his work for several years through my involvement with the National Association of Teachers of Singing, but also on another level. I went to school with him, and we even shared the stage together as soloists in the Bruckner Te Deum!

Some of this is technical stuff, but it’s well worth the investment in reading it carefully. I hope you all do. Please make special note of the section called New Therapies, as he talks in detail about the use of “the straw”!!!

Reprinted from Backstage Magazine: January 2009

Ingo Titze
Dr. Ingo Titze

Vocal Ease

Keeping Your Voice Healthy for Life
January 08, 2009
By John Henny
There have been great advances in recent years in the field of voice research. This new knowledge is helping voice teachers and speech-language pathologists, actors and singers keep voices healthy for a lifetime.

The National Center for Voice and Speech is at the forefront of this cutting-edge research. Led by Dr. Ingo Titze, the NCVS is a nonprofit organization with locations in Denver and Iowa.

The Tired Voice
Of particular concern to Titze are people who use their voices a great deal professionally. “We’re interested in how voices fatigue,” he says. “Teachers who talk six, seven hours a day in a monologue style face a lot of vocal fatigue.” To gather real-world data, the NCVS developed a small instrument called a vocal dosimeter, which is worn by the test subject throughout the day to record vocal events. “We can determine every time the vocal folds begin to vibrate and when they stop vibrating,” says Titze. “We have shown that the vocal folds collide or vibrate on the order of a million times a day for a busy teacher. The vocal folds will also come together and apart around 10 to 20 thousand times a day. That’s similar to what the finger movement would be for a stenographer who types all day.”

The Bioreactor
Another main project at the NCVS is working in the lab with human tissue and exposing it to the same forces that would be found in a person. To do this, researchers use a machine called a bioreactor, which exposes cells and the tissue they live in to mechanical stresses, simulating what teachers, actors, and singers expose themselves to. “We then take the cells and examine them and the matrixes around them,” Titze explains. “Whenever a cell is stressed from its environment, it wants to make protein products that help to buffer these forces. We want to know all the materials the cells would like to make.” Many vocal issues arise from the cells’ reaction to stresses: “A nodule is a result from the cells saying this is more collision than we can handle, so they make some more fibrous material right around that area where the collision occurs.”

Titze is also discovering what role genetics play in the voice and fatigue. “We know that some voices fatigue very fast and others don’t seem to,” he says. “For singers and actors, it’s not always technique. You can have very wonderful technique and still end up hurting your voice. Some can sing with an abusive technique and yet not suffer the same damage. It’s similar to sports, where a player can have great technique but still suffer joint problems and injury.”

Stop Pressing
Titze warns against pressing the vocal folds too intensely when speaking. “Stressing by pressing,” he calls it. “Most vocal problems are caused by this pressing too much. We need to stress certain syllables when we speak — like ‘hel-lo’ — but we don’t always need to press the vocal folds to get that stress. You can do it with the aerodynamic system and better respiratory management.”

He says he has seen a gender shift in this area: “It used to be more of a male issue, but now females are doing it more than the males. Even young girls are using this pressed sound.” Titze suggests that celebrity role models may be part of the problem: “There are teenage actresses that sound like 40-year-old women because they bear down so hard on their voice.”

New Therapies
A number of new vocal therapy techniques have come from research at the NCVS, and Titze singles out one in particular: “One of the things we like is phonating into a very narrow stirring straw. This creates a back pressure in the mouth.” This back pressure, he explains, helps spread and lengthen the vocal folds, undoing some of the stress people put on them. “The things that people do to the voice are that they press the voice too much and they speak at too low a pitch,” he says. “They massage that organ in one area all the time, so when they phonate into the straw with a full sound, it stretches the vocal folds and unpresses them. We have them glide up way, way high in pitch and even sing songs through it. It’s very effective.”

Shouting Safely
Actors and singers often have to inject emotion into the voice, frequently at the expense of vocal health. The NCVS is currently looking into safer ways to shout or scream. “We’re studying high-effort phonation and how it can be done safely in the theatre,” Titze says, explaining that the solution has to do with using more than one sound source, in addition to the vocal folds. “It is possible to rattle other parts: your uvula, the top of your larynx, the false folds. You set pitch with a modest amount of sound-making at the real vocal folds, and you bring in these other sources. It sounds like you’re doing it all on the real folds but with much less damage.”

In addition to offering a full range of vocal resources on its website, the NCVS hosts the yearly Summer Vocology Institute, which trains voice professionals from around the world. For more information on the NCVS, go to

Jan 06

Studio student at 2009 Rose Parade

By billalpert | Events , Student News , violin , voice

Hannah Meisser sings at 2009 Rose Parade
Hannah Meisser (right) sings at this year’s Rose Parade.

Sesame Street float at 2009 Rose Parade, Pasadena, Ca
Hannah’s float won the President’s Trophy!

A gorgeous New Year’s day in Pasadena marked the first appearance of an Alpert Studio student in the illustrious Rose Parade. Student Hannah Meisser was selected to perform on the Sesame Street themed float sponsored by NAMM, the trade association of the music industry. The float also featured a violinist (not a common sight at the Rose Parade!) and was followed by the impressive Bands of America Honor Band.

Congrats to Hannah, on being selected for this honor. And Happy New Year to all!

Aug 21

Update for Vocal Students

By Melanie Alpert | Studio News , voice

Voice lessons will resume the day after Labor Day, Tuesday, September 2. If you have a Monday lesson time, your lessons will start on Monday September 8th. I am doing a lot of reorganizing of my studio and I need this extra week. All lessons will remain at the same time if I have not heard from you and/or you have not requested a different time. I am still working on scheduling and should have new schedules ready some time next week. I will email them out to you, plus a list of phone numbers in case you occasionally need to switch a lesson with another student. If you do not want your phone number on that list please let me know right away. If you need to change a permanent time slot you must let me know asap.

Hope you all had a wonderful summer. Now it’s time to get back in the swing! I look forward to seeing and hearing all of you!

Jul 20

Beast Takes Rancho by Storm

By billalpert | Reviews , Student News

Beauty and the Beast.jpg
Full company sings “Be Our Guest” from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Musical direction by Melanie Alpert

Cesar Quintero
as Lumiere with Can Can dancers.

Evil Doers.jpg
Studio alum Taylor Pearson as Darque in Maison des Lune

Congratulations to all studio students who participated in the Broadway Experience/Los Osos High School production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. What a rousing success! This production broke all attendance records and raised the bar for community based musical theater in Southern California.

Jul 12

Getting to Carnegie Hall

By billalpert | violin

Mimi Zweig
The irrepressible Mimi Zweig leads a master class at the String Academy of Wisconsin on the Campus of University of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee.

When accomplished 15 year old violinist Brian Zhang signed up to play for Mimi Zweig, he was probably thinking of Mozart, Bach or Barber. Little did he know he’d soon be taking a 90 minute journey through the A major scale! Ms. Zweig, noted violinist, pedagogue, educator and mentor to many world class musicians (including violin/celeb Joshua Bell) has a way of turning complex problems into simple solutions.

“There’s a Zen to playing scales,” says Zweig, “that can calm even a teenage student who just had a fight with her mother.” Within the scale routine, and its dozens of variant bowings and rhythms, can be found the technical basis for almost any element of violin playing. And today for Brian, the simple act of remembering to play an open D string instead of using his 4th finger, provided a challenge almost as great as the Sarasate showpiece he performed just hours earlier.

Be it playing first base for the Yankees or playing Brahms, the greatest performers and athletes always focus on the fundamentals. The slight over tilting of a head, a bit of tightness in the shoulder joint, a posture that looks a little closed at times: these are among the dozens of subtle elements that never escape Zweig’s eye. She seems to have a certain ESP that brings the most relevant issue into focus within just a few notes of a scale. It’s a pleasure and inspiration for teachers everywhere to see her in action.

So remember, students: If you’d like to get to Carnegie Hall, or even if you just need to polish up your next Suzuki recital, the fastest way might just be playing your scales!

For more information about Mimi Zweig and her work, visit the string pedagogy website.