How Can I Keep From Singing?

How Can I Keep From Singing?

Traditional, recorded January 2012 You can download the .mp3 here: HowCanIKeepFromSinging.mp3 My life goes on in endless song above earth’s lamentation, I hear the real, though far-off hymn that hails a new creation. No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that rock I’m clinging. Since love is lord of heaven and earth how can I keep from singing? Through all the tumult and the strife I hear the music ringing, It sounds and echoes in my soul. How can I keep from singing? What though the tempest ‘round me roars, I hear the truth, it liveth. And though the darkness ’round me close, songs in the night it giveth. This hymn is a personal anthem, and a favorite of my Mom, and my friend Barb. When I got my new guitar (the incomparable Taylor 814ce) in the spring, I had promised that this would be the first song I would record with it. There are actually three guitar tracks, the most prevalent being finger picked in D, with a tamer finger picked track and a strum track, both played in C, capo 2. The thunder claps are re-used from the sound design for I Hate Hamlet – I always thought this tune needed foul weather in the background. The painting is called “The Woods,” and was painted in the summer of 2011. I thought the light in the distance an apt visual for this...
Mother Teresa High’s Jesus Christ Superstar

Mother Teresa High’s Jesus Christ Superstar

There’s something about high school productions that is just FUN. The energy and enthusiasm, the clearly talented (that make you think, hey, I knew them when) and the plucky that sell their characters with aplomb, talent be damned. Few musicals are more demanding of talent and staging smarts than Jesus Christ Superstar – but Momma T’s has a history of tackling challenging musicals (past productions include Little Shop of Horrors and Rent). I took the show in twice – the Thursday opening night and the Saturday matinee. The matinee was much tighter; It was obvious the show had matured considerably in just a couple days. It’s a shame the Cappies reviewers covered opening night – the matinee was a much better show. The roles were well cast – triply important because some key parts have significant demands on vocal range. While there were moments when these talents might have done more with less, rather than trying too hard, their delivery was impressive nonetheless. Antonio Pezoules in the lead role of Jesus wisely kept the melody within his effective range by rewriting a couple of phrases, rather than straining. Kayla Bernard as Mary Magdalene nailed every phrase, every note; a superb job. Fabulous work by Andriy Cherwick and Andres Cutillas as Pilate and Herod. It was very satisfying to hear a deep, growly bass from Ryan Spero as Caiaphas and an urgent high tenor from Marco Gioriani as Judas. I was impressed by the ambitious set – which ranged from the stage down the center of the house to the back of the auditorium. The use of follow spots to...
Trailburst Nuggets – An Anytime Snack

Trailburst Nuggets – An Anytime Snack

One of the fun little moments in the production of I Hate Hamlet by the Ottawa Little Theatre was the ad for Trailburst Nuggets that opens the final scene. Andrew Rally, the television actor who is wrestling with playing Hamlet on stage, is featured in the ad. The fun is that the ad is as abysmal as the product it hawks (which apparently taste like sawdust dipped in chocolate, with more calories than lard). Opening with a discussion between Andrew and a chipmunk hand puppet, who dissolves into tears when denied a sampling of nuggets – it ends happily with Andrew kissing his head and caving to his craving. Then follows the ad’s jingle – which isn’t scripted. Director Sarah Hearn only gave me one piece of direction regarding the jingle – “Make it utterly annoying, a tune you can’t get out of your head, like a barbed splinter in your brain.” So here, for your listening – ummm – pleasure, is the Trailburst Nuggets ad from Ottawa Little Theatre’s 2011 production of I Hate Hamlet. You can download the .mp3 here: TrailburstNuggets.mp3 Trailburst Nuggets – An Anytime Snack by Mike (Binary Rhyme) Heffernan Michael McSheffrey as Andrew Rally Stephen Liddiard as the Chipmunk People love (chipmunks too!) a tasty breakfast treat be sure to start your day the Trailburst Nugget way And when you head out on the road just remember that Trailburst Nuggets are an anytime snack Trailburst Nuggets An ANNYYYTIME Snack! Some further bits of fun include one of the lighting technicians misunderstanding the lyrics of the opening line. “People Love Chipmunk Stew!” … I’ve never...
Sing and See: Pitch Matching Practice Tool

Sing and See: Pitch Matching Practice Tool

equipping vocal students with an effective practice tool I was recently engaged to teach vocals / singing to three fabulous pre-adolescent kids. At our first lesson, I was primarily interested in assessing what needed work. Emerging quickly as the front runner was pitch matching (the ability to hear a note and then sing it accurately). As I sat at the piano and played note after note, asking them to reproduce it, my students responded well to my feedback – “up a couple notes, down a couple… bring that up just a bit…” but I worried. All a teacher can do is show you what to learn and how to learn it – a student ultimately teaches themselves. How on earth could they practice effectively without me there to tell them how their pitch was doing? So I went home and did some searching, hoping to find an application that could help. Enter Sing and See – at $49 USD. It provides a window with real time pitch placement feedback, a keyboard for playing tones and a record and playback feature that works with any standard computer microphone. In the weeks since I’ve assigned my students practice work with Sing and See – move up and down the scale, move in semi-tones, play a note and sing it… and they have applied themselves diligently with admirable results. I highly recommend this application if you’ve got students (or yourself) with this...
Whiskey In the Jar

Whiskey In the Jar

traditional, recorded March 2010 WhiskeyInTheJar.mp3 As I was a goin’ over the far famed Kerry mountains I met with Captain Farrell and his money he was counting I first produced my pistol and then produced my rapier Saying “Stand and deliver” for I am a bold deceiver Musha ring dumma do damma da whack fol the daddyo whack fol the daddyo There’s whiskey in the jar He counted out his money and it made a pretty penny I put it in my pocket and I gave it to my Jenny She sighed and she swore that she never would deceive me But the devil take the woman for she never can be easy I went into my chamber, all for to take a slumber I dreamt of gold and jewels and for sure it was no wonder But Jenny drew me charges and she filled them up with water She sent for Captain Farrell to be ready for the slaughter T’was early in the morning, before I rose to travel Up comes a band of footmen and likewise Captain Farrell I then produced me pistol for she stole away me rapier but I couldn’t shoot the water, so a prisoner I was taken If anyone can aid me it’s me brother in the army If I but knew his station be it Cork or in Killarney And if he’d come and join me, we’d go rovin’ in Killkenny I swear he’d treat me fairer than my darlin’ sportin’ Jenny Now there’s some take delight in the carriages a rollin’ and others take delight in the hurling and the bowlin’...
No Limits

No Limits

by Mike (Binary Rhyme) Heffernan, 1996 No Limits.mp3 No Limits video I included in a talk on Innovation for a government conference run by DPI Canada. Someday you’re gonna find out where you truly belong Racing swifter than lightning Tireless, skillful and strong ’cause win is made in your mind possible defined by your will can’t is a word best forgotten set your mind and say go Break your mind free of its limits Reach for more than just a try Keep you sight on the horizon Spread your wings, touch the sky! You’ve got stiff competition they’ve set the bar very high but you’ll be sailing right over this is your time to fly ’cause you’ll define what the best means and you’ll leave them reeling in dust They might be good – but you’re better put your foot through the floor Break your mind free of its limits Reach for more than just a try Keep you sight on the horizon Spread your wings, touch the sky! No Limits is my fight song. Originally written for a Fulcrum Technologies sales conference in Phoenix, AZ, the first performance featured a rap by Mike Gaines that slammed our competition – while the more generic version simply has an instrumental break. It was reprized live at the inaugural OCRI Techrocks “battle of the bands,” and I’ve used it during speaking gigs at conferences and as a pep tune for online gaming...