2021 No. 5

© Elena Greco - Cherry blossoms in Central Park
(If you like this image and you like jigsaw puzzles, check out the link below!)
Spring has sprung! Today I thought I’d bring you some entertainment and some beauty. After a long dark Covid winter, we all deserve some of that!

And I'm using a slightly different layout this time, so let me know if it works better for you, okay?
GrundseiteViardotBild around 1860
Pauline Viardot Garcia. This year is the bicentennial celebration of the birth of the brilliant composer, singer, instrumentalist and pedagogue Pauline Viardot Garcia. I created a video about her life (with beautiful song interpretations by Isabel Bayrakdarian and Serouj Kradjian):
(I recommend watching in theater mode)

Let me know if you’d like to use my video for your Music History or Vocal Literature course; it would be a great addition to your course and would help raise awareness of the many great female composers who are mostly unknown to students. The only requirement is to ask for my permission for legal reasons and so that I know where it’s being used; there is no charge for the use. And of course it would be lovely if you’d share it on social media!

For the singers out there, Viardot's songs are beautiful and unique and I encourage you to learn and perform them. Most of the sheet music is available free online (IMSLP-Pauline Viardot). She also wrote a collection of vocalises, An Hour of Study (or this link). I plan to try the vocalises for the first time this spring and see what happens by summer!
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Creativity as a Way of Life. Being creative doesn’t have to be relegated to certain days or times. You can be creative around the clock! Learn how in my article CREATIVITY AS A WAY OF LIFE (read this unedited link). It was also published on Psychology Today and Thrive Global, as well as Eric Maisel’s Fine Art America blog (thank you, Eric!).
Jay Weinstein-So I asked them to smile
Singular Passions. Thanks to cousin John D. White for sending me this link to Dusky Pierce's wonderful SINGULAR PASSIONS page (and thanks to Dusky for creating this compilation). Enjoy the truly amazing photos! (The image is from Jay Weinstein's So I Asked Them to Smile, one of many terrific photo series on the page. I like the acorns, too!)
Big Bird 2-Scott Lynch-Gothamist-041721
Hello, Big Bird! Have a look at the delightful installation at the Metropolitan Museum's Roof Garden this spring, Alex da Corte's As Long as the Sun Lasts. If you can't visit it in person, you might enjoy Gothamist's photo gallery (a Blue Big Bird at the Met); I did! (Thanks to Scott Lynch at Gothamist for the photo.)
(Don't forget to keep scrolling below until you see the quote; there's more!)
CREATIVITY COACHING. I’m a holistic creativity coach, and I want to help you reach your potential in all areas of creativity, health, productivity, and fulfillment. Creatives of all sorts, get to the heart of your creativity and get moving! (Learn more about me and my work here and here.) Dip your toe in the water with a one-month trial and see if it’s for you!
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TECH TIP. Transcribing speech and playing text. Most of us use a few of our favorite tricks regularly and don’t necessarily notice all the time- and effort-saving features that have been added to apps in recent years. I believe two of the most under-used functions are speech-to-text and text-to-speech.

Speech to text. It’s not always convenient to type. Fortunately, you can speak into almost any app now and have your speech instantly transcribed. If you tried the dictation function years ago and found it lacking, try again—it’s quite good now.

1) In any text app that offers it (and most do), open a new document or message and look for the mic icon. Just press, speak, and watch your words appear! If you don't see it, search in the app for "dictate" or "voice."

2) If, like me, you don’t have the time or patience to listen to podcasts or YouTube instructional videos, you can read a transcript instead, even if one is not provided (although it usually is). You can use the speech-to-text feature to transcribe videos or meetings that have only one speaker at a time: Open a document in the text app, press the mic icon, and play the recording. Then save the transcript. Of course, there are apps and services that do this for you, but it's nice to be able to make do with what you have.

3) YouTube transcribes spoken videos automatically. Under the video, click on the three horizontal dots on the right and choose Open Transcript to read it. You can extract the transcript by choosing Open Transcript, pressing CTRL+A (Select All in Windows), and pasting the text into a text document. You might want to touch up the format, then save as pdf or Word.

Text to speech. Conversely, if you want to listen to text, most apps have a reading function. There are too many apps and versions for me to include instructions here, but search for the "speak" option; you might have to add it to your toolbar (as in Microsoft Word). You can also use that feature as a crude timer by having it "speak" your text while you run a stopwatch app.
ElenaGreco-043020-cherry blossoms-people2-cropped-wm
JIGSAW PUZZLE! Elena's cherry blossoms jigsaw puzzle. There’s nothing like a shower of pink cherry blossoms to cheer one up, so I turned my photo into a jigsaw puzzle! (It’s a harder puzzle than I had imagined; I’ll find an easier photo next time! Can you do this one?) Hint: Click the dotted box in the middle of the header to pull out edge pieces first.

And savor the round of applause it gives you when you complete the puzzle! Think of it as congrats for all you’ve done for yourself and others over the past challenging year.
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