Friday, March 23, 2012

Brahms and cinnamon apple slices

I sing with the Larimer Chorale and we are performing Brahms' requiem in Fort Collins on Sunday. Check out the program notes on the link and you'll see what kind of piece it is. Usually I've sung alto 1 or alto 2 but the director of the group put me on soprano 2 for this piece (basically this just means I'm singing a part that's much higher in pitch and has the melody more often). For those of you who don't sing, performing the soprano part of Brahms' requiem is like running a marathon with your voice. We rarely go below the C above middle C and there are lots of G's, A's and even a Bb (basically, really high notes). The piece is long and the text is so meaningful- even singing the text on low notes would be exhausting. On high notes you just really have to save your voice but give it your best effort at the same time- even when you're exhausted after just the first movement (there are 7 movements).

So why do I mention Brahms on my blog (other than as a shameless plug for my concert)? Well, at the end of our 3-hour rehearsal last night I was physically exhausted, but not so exhausted that I couldn't keep going. Yes, my back ached, my feet hurt, my brain hurt and forget about my voice, but normally after a marathon rehearsal I just want to sleep. I can barely keep my eyes open and I feel like I've just had a hard workout at the gym. I started thinking about how I've been using food lately to help fuel my body which is my instrument. Athletes take care of their body and fuel it accordingly and reap the benefits of higher energy, better performance, higher concentration, etc. Why not singers? (Or pianists? violists? trumpet players? etc.). For those of you non-musicians out there this might sound crazy- what do you mean? You're just standing there? Well, performing is hard work- it takes every ounce of concentration and energy you have, especially when you're performing Brahms.

So here's where I'm going with all of this: I strongly believe that food affects energy and performance. I've been taking better care of myself- eating balanced meals, high energy snacks and lots of fruits and veggies and I know this is what works for me to feel my best. Yesterday, for example, I made some whole wheat carrot snacking bread (recipe here) and I snacked on apple slices and nuts before rehearsal, had a balanced breakfast and lunch and I had good energy to work through my long rehearsal. If you are a musician you need to take care of your body and fuel it with whole, healthy food, just as athletes do. Your body is your instrument (or the instrument is an extension of your body) and playing music is a whole body experience.

So Cinnamon apples:

Photo courtesy of "Fresh Squeezed Nutrition"
A snack! I discovered a wonderful way to eat apples. Slice them thinly, place in plastic bag and sprinkle cinnamon and maybe a bit of coconut sugar or toasted crushed almonds. Shake around in the bag to evenly coat and voilà! Easy snack, great for kids and adults alike.

Thanks for reading through! I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

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