One of the parts of NWA that has amazed me the most in my first few months here is just how early classes begin. The schools closest to the studio, Bentonville High School & Rogers High School, began school on August 16th! This is much different than our NJ students who often don't return until after Labor Day Weekend.
The start of school is one of the biggest resets of the year for many of our middle school & high school students. Gone are the long days of summer with ample time for play and exploration, replaced almost instantaneously with tough classes (ughh Calculus), sports practices, club meetings, and endless hours of homework. Back to school is often just as difficult for parents who suddenly have to coordinate pick-up and drop-off, pack lunches, and dust off their own skills to help with homework.
I've been fortunate enough to work with many high school students through Finely Tuned Voice Lessons. Below are a few pointers I often give at the start of school to keep middle school & high school students and their voices Finely Tuned during busy high school days.
Stay Hydrated: hydration is one of the most important steps to keeping the voice healthy and in top shape-its also one of the most overlooked pieces by young singers. Sending your kids to school with a full water bottle will help to keep hydration top of mind during their busy days. I recommend a HydroFlask water bottle but they are EXPENSIVE. I personally just use a regular water bottle and refill it at home every day before I leave the house. #BudgetFriendly.
Consistency is Key: Many young singers think that if they can't practice for a half-hour or more then it's not worth practicing at all. This could not be more false! Helping your student block off even 15 minutes each day to practice, whether it's warming-up, singing through the tough part of a song (shower singing is great) or even just to review lyrics will help keep music skills sharp. If 15 minutes seems too difficult, have them start with 5 minutes and gradually work to increase the practice time from there.
Keep the Voice Finely Tuned: The voice, specifically your vocal folds, are part of your body. And just like your legs or your arms they will weaken without activity. I have created a playlist of some of my favorite voice warm-ups on the Finely Tuned YouTube Channel that provides short and simple warm-up exercises to help keep the voice in-shape even with limited time.
Good luck to all of the Rogers, Bentonville and remaining NWA students in your first few weeks of school! I'm cheering for you!!!
People ask me all the time: “Do you like it here in the Bentonville/NWA area?”
Without hesitation, I enthusiastically answer, “Yes! I really do!” Sometimes they assume that since I’ve lived in New York City and New Jersey that I won’t like it here. What’s funny is that I have liked everywhere I’ve lived for one reason or another.
New York City was bustling, full of driven people all pursuing their dreams. It was really energizing and inspiring to live there.
New Jersey brought us closer to my husband’s family, so we felt really supported there. I also started Finely Tuned Voice Lessons there, so it will always have a piece of my heart.
Finally, the NWA area (Bentonville/Rogers) has already taught me several things. As a southerner (I was born and raised in North Carolina), it’s nice to be back in a friendly town. People stop and talk to you and genuinely care how your day is going. Young and old both know “Amazing Grace” and sing it with such conviction. There’s a little bubble of diversity here, a meeting place of culture, arts, and brilliant minds. I’m excited to keep connecting with people, hearing their voices, and their story, helping them grow and find the joy in singing.
We were walking through Downtown Bentonville and as we approached the square we stumbled upon a group of people gathered to play a pick-up jam session! They were seated in a big circle, each person with their instrument or lyric book ready to solo when their turn came around. I saw guitars, violins, a double bass, harmonica, and a banjo!
I love that on a random summer Friday night there’s a community of musicians (some may be professional, others hobby players) playing and singing! What joy! I think that’s the root of why we enjoy listening to and physically making music—it’s joyful.
Joy is what I strive to create in the studio when someone is here for a lesson. We find your voice and find the joy in singing! Singing should feel good, and I love to help make it easier for you. Make an appointment for a private voice lesson in our Northwest Arkansas studio and have the most joyful 30 minutes of your week singing with me! We’re in Rogers, close to Bentonville, Cave Springs, Pea Ridge, Centerton, Lowell, Springdale & Fayetteville. I can’t wait to hear your voice!
Maria Palombo is the founder of Finely Tuned Voice Lessons, a private voice studio accessible anywhere with internet! Voice lessons are for all, regardless of age or ability!