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Robin Coppinger, Bucks County Women’s Journal

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The Genre of Music

Do you pick your music or does your voice pick it?

Fascinating article by Maylyn Murphy, CEO and Founder of Music Nation Academy:

Maylyn Murphy CEO & Founder

Maylyn Murphy
CEO & Founder

I have discovered a common challenge most vocal teachers face at some point in their teaching career. That challenge is working with a student whose voice is suited for one genre of music while the student’s choice of genres to sing is very different. Take for example the young vocalist who only wants to sing pop and top 40, only the most popular and loved songs that are “right now”, but has a voice that is “made for” jazz. So what do you do in this situation? As the teacher, you know that the student’s voice has the tone, range, and quality for jazz, but the student is set on singing pop. Do you work with her and try to influence her to sing jazz or do you support her desire to pursue pop music? Which saying—“the customer is always right” or “teacher knows best”—rings true? It’s quite the quandary.

I can share with you my method for handling such a dilemma, as this is one of the challenges my teachers and I tackle most frequently at Music Nation Academy. In addition to the vocal teachings of the genre, we also provide performance-based training, which entails another very-different dimension to teaching any specific genre and the performance stereotypes attached to a genre.

Initially, I have a discussion with the student in order to understand the student’s short-term and long-term goals for taking vocal lessons. The students I teach have a host of reasons for taking lessons at my school. Students’ reasons range from “I always wanted to learn to sing for fun” to “I want to make this my career.” Right now, many students come to Music Nation Academy to improve their singing and performance abilities to get parts in school musicals, performances, chorales, or choruses. In these cases, it is good to know the student’s focus prior to lessons. Of course, this is not required, and many students “find” their voice and better define goals as we move through their musical journey. I will also inquire with the parent(s) as to what their perception is regarding the reasons for the student taking lessons. I prefer to know if the parent(s) and student are on the same page for why the student wants to take lessons.

Once the lesson begins, I perform an initial vocal assessment of the student. I listen for his or her ability to control the voice, pitch, and breathing as well as the student’s vocal tone, vocal strength, and ability to read music. Upon completion of this assessment, I am able to narrow down the genre(s) the student’s vocal abilities would best “fit”. The key to picking and singing a specific genre is in the vocal tone. It tells so much in relation to the vocal strength of a student for a particular genre.

I have come to find an amazing correlation between the genre the student would like to pursue and the music genre for which the student’s voice is best suited. However, the biggest discrepancy I find is regarding the desire of students to sing pop music. Many students want to sing and perform the latest and most-popular songs, yet their voice may be better suited for very different genres, such as musical theater/performance, blues, country, or perhaps jazz.

In these cases, I work with the student to achieve the goal set during our discussion. That’s correct. If the student is determined to sing pop, yet the student’s voice is best suited for jazz, I will work with the student to make adjustments to the vocal delivery to best sing and perform pop music. Many might say that, since you are the teacher, the experienced one, the knowledgeable one, you should somehow lead the student in the direction you see fit. However, the reasoning behind the course of action I take is because of my overall view of music—that a student’s exposure to music should not be limited or hampered.

I find that a student’s success is directly related to that student’s specific motivation and focus. Attempting to refocus and motivate a student to sing a genre they don’t like decreases likelihood of success. I therefore work with the student to master singing and performing that genre, which leads to a high level of confidence. That inevitably leads to the student’s own desire to branch out and attempt to master other genres. This is the perfect time to introduce the genre the student may be best suited for and see where that leads us. Typically, students will enjoy the genre of music they are best suited for but only after having mastered another genre they were truly motivated to sing and perform in the first place.

I have sung and played rock, pop, jazz, blues, country, classical, and just about any other genre of music. All of this has provided me with a wealth of knowledge about music, performance, my strengths, and the weakness I strive to improve upon. This is the ultimate goal I have for my students: not simply to master a song, genre or single performance but to build upon what I teach them and expand upon their own successes, their strengths, and their weaknesses. This is not only a music lesson but also a life lesson.

For this and other great articles, visit us online at

Robin Coppinger

Bucks County Women’s Journal


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Can Stress Cause Infertility?

There’s nothing more disappointing than a negative pregnancy test when you’ve been trying to get pregnant for months. And the longer you’re forced to wait, the more stress builds as a result.

Unfortunately, it’s a troubling pattern to get into; the greater the stress, the greater the chance that it’ll be even harder to get pregnant.

According to a recent study, researchers have discovered a connection between women with high levels of a stress biomarker and an increased risk of infertility. Although doctors have theorized about the role stress plays in infertility for years, this is the first study to provide scientific support.

“Stress, if very significant, can cause women to have difficulty ovulating,” says Dr. Larry Barmat, a board-certified fertility specialist at Abington Reproductive Medicine. “Severe stressful situations will cause irregular ovulation or prevent ovulation and reduce one’s fertility.”

The issue is a complicated one.

When meeting with a patient who’s having trouble conceiving, Dr. Barmat says that one of the first things he determines is whether or not the woman is ovulating.

If she is ovulating and is under stress, it becomes more difficult to determine the true impact of stress on fertility because stress is so difficult to gauge objectively. According to Dr. Barmat, “Everyone responds to stressful situations differently; someone may not appear stressed overtly, but, internally, if you measure stress hormones, it can be high, and vice versa.”

If a woman is not ovulating, it’s clear that stress is playing a role in the issue and that it should be controlled.


But what’s causing the stress in the first place?

While there are a number of potential causes of stress, Dr. Barmat says undergoing fertility testing and treatment is definitely one of them.

“It is very important as a reproductive endocrinologist to assess how a patient is handling stress and address ways to manage it,” he adds.

Other factors such as work, marital strain, and other personal life stresses might cause anxiety as well.

“In general, the American population is a relatively stressed population because everyone’s working very hard in this difficult economy,” says Dr. Barmat. “There are a number of external and internal factors that are weighing heavily on patients.”

As a result, it’s imperative that doctors help their patients find ways to relieve stress to improve their chances of getting pregnant.

At Abington Reproductive Medicine, the staff takes the role of stress in infertility very seriously. To help patients, they offer counseling by social workers and psychologists, support groups, and more. They also refer patients to acupuncture (some women find that it’s an effective method to reduce stress) and music therapy, which they found helped reduce stress and improve pregnancy rates during a study they conducted at Abington Memorial Hospital. In addition to their office location at the hospital, Abington Reproductive Medicine has six other office locations for your convenience: Langhorne, Doylestown, East Norriton, Lansdale, Paoli, and Lancaster.

Whatever the approach, Dr. Barmat says it’s important that stress is properly managed. And, as more research is conducted, doctors hopefully will learn more about the ways in which stress influences fertility and how they can better help patients.

“It’s good we’re seeing more scientific studies evaluating this,” Dr. Barmat says. “We can begin taking a more-active role in the methods to reduce stress.”


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‘Tis the Season to Become a Wine Angel

‘Tis the Season to Become a Wine Angel
By George Parkinson

2014-12-15_10-40-49We wine advocates, wine lovers, cork dorks, wine geeks, et al are always on the hunt for new, interesting, unique, and different wines. We constantly seek the unknown and take pride in being “that person” who found it first in our circle of wine friends. Often we travel distances to get that bottle. Living in Pennsylvania has often been a challenge in seeking out unique variety and selection. While our PLCB wine stores have gotten better in the last 10 years, we all know that a better price and selection is often found in tax-free Delaware or New Jersey, where a full or half case sale is often availablre with an additional 10% – 15% off the price. So we seek the strange, unusual, and interesting, and, if a good price comes along with it, all the better.

Last May, I was introduced to a website called Naked Wines I came across this on Facebook, and, after reading its mission statement, I quickly signed up as an Angel. Naked Wines does something liberating for the wine industry, and, if you are a true wine advocate, I highly recommend you too join their cause as a Wine Angel.
In today’s wine industry, there are just a few midlevel distribution companies that handle the thousands of brands that exist worldwide. We, the consumers, are often subjugated to the brands that our area distribution wholesalers opt to represent, which often leaves selection and unique opportunity off the table in deference to larger wineries who create and bottle dozens of second-label wines.

When I signed up for the Naked Wines Angel program, I was not sure how they would navigate the PLCB’s complicated shipping rules. In other open markets, direct to consumer (DTC) sales make it easy for a winery to ship right to your front door. In Pennsylvania, the compliance measures mandate shipping these wines to your local wine store, where the customer needs to sign for and pick up the package. It took Naked Wines 6 months to clear the Pennsylvania compliance rules, and, once approved, I was able to order and receive the wines, which I picked up the day I wrote this article. The entire process was easy, and most notable was that it was my store’s first experience with this company. Three of us ordered and received wines on the same day as well, so the news is out ahead of this article; and I am sure many others are soon to follow.

Not wanting to make this a political rant on open market vs. control market issues, my overall point is that Naked Wines represents the small artisan winemaker not able to have its wines represented by a wholesale distributor, and it does a great job of offering quality and value. Its website has great customer support and some perks for becoming an Angel. Once I placed my order, the wines were shipped out, and I received them inside of 5 business days.

The selections were made by everyone from cult winemakers like Randy Hester to well-known names like Randall Grahm (Bonny Doon), Ken Deis (Heitz, Phelps, & Flora Springs) and more who have moved off on their own to produce wines that are small batch and unique. The site offers the buyer a chance to read other reviews of the wines and to record your review as well. I am sipping a selection made by Matt Iaconis called THE GLOBETROTTER as I write this article. A deep-colored garnet red wine with notes of crusty French bread and black cherry cola, it was a nice wine for the chilly evening in front of a roaring fire.


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Meet Piper Hill Classics!

Piper Hill Classics really out did themselves this past holiday season – absolutely spectacular.  But you should see how the seasons change at Piper Hill!  Stop by – you won’t regret it.

Piper Hill GroupR

2014-12-02_16-31-50 2014-12-02_16-32-35 2014-12-13_8-45-55

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A Home and Hope for Survivors of Sexual Exploitation

Worthwwhil wear Dan Emr Bio Pic Small SizeSeveral years ago, Dan Emr, Founder and Executive Director of Worthwhile Wear, heard these statistics from missionaries doing a presentation:

• 27 million men and women around the world – including our tri-state area – are trapped in slavery. Of those 27 million, 21.6 million are women, of which nearly all are involved in some form of sexual exploitation.
• Human trafficking is the second-largest organized crime enterprise, tied with arms trafficking – and closely following drug trafficking.
• Criminal operations find human trafficking increasingly appealing because of its high profit potential: humans can be sold repeatedly, while drugs are sold and used up after one use.

Moved with compassion for the women represented by these statistics, Emr planted the seed for the creation of a nonprofit organization with a threefold focus to free exploited girls and women: prevention, reaching/restoring, and creating awareness.

Beginning in India, Emr partnered with various groups to educate poverty-stricken families about the ploys of traffickers to prevent further exploitation and to train girls and women to sew and make jewelry and other products so they could make a living wage. Promoting and selling these products in the U.S. and online creates awareness and helps fund the work in India.

Recently, The Intelligencer ran a well-researched series about human trafficking in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. This is a quote from the first article:

Human trafficking—especially sex trafficking—is happening right under our noses in many parts of Bucks and Montgomery counties. Law enforcement officials, area lawmakers, and local support groups are seeing an uptick in what they call modern-day slavery. Teenage girls are lured by pimps who feign romantic interest…Sympathy. Attention. Romance. Coercion. Force. These are some of the tools of traffickers.

This information supported what Emr had learned about the prevalence and problem of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of women in Bucks County through involvement in the Bucks County Coalition Against Trafficking (BCAT). Collaborating with other organizations and companies is a critical component of any efforts to help trafficking victims make the journey from victim to survivor. Bucks County is fortunate to have established organizations, committed professionals, and adequate resources to provide a broad range of human services to these women. Some gaps in service became evident in the BCAT meetings—the need for safe, long-term housing and employment opportunities. This need for safe housing, which gives survivors of this type of traumatic experience a place to heal, led to the development of a program called The Well, which was designed to put into action a faith-based response to deal with the issue of sexual exploitation of women in and around Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey.

Modeled after successful restorative programs, the process begins by working in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies to identify women over 18 who are trapped in this industry. Numerous human service organizations are involved in an assessment and treatment process, which may lead to a referral to The Well. Housing, food, clothing, counseling, life skills training, and tutoring are just some of the services women will receive at The Well. Opportunities for vocational training, employment, and community integration will be offered at Worthwhile Wear’s two stores: Worthwhile Thrift, an upscale resale and thrift store, and Freedom Boutique, a unique boutique selling items made by women rescued from human trafficking, located at the former Piper Classics in Pipersville. These will also be a source of revenue for The Well.

Get Involved

Luis CdeBaca, the Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, stated that “What trafficking victims endure is incomparable to what most of us confront in a lifetime and should put into context the small injustices and frustrations of our daily work and lives.” The job may be huge, but pulling together an effective team will provide an opportunity for freedom and restored lives for many women. Here are several ways that you can become involved in this battle for justice and human rights:
1. Donate to and shop at Worthwhile Thrift and Freedom Boutique.
2. Make a donation to Worthwhile Wear.
3. Sign up to become a volunteer at The Well or Worthwhile Thrift.

Worthwhile Wear is a 501(c)(3) organization committed to preventing entrance into and reaching girls already in the sex slave trade while addressing the root causes and providing women and girls an alternative means of income and a new life. The Well, a program of Worthwhile Wear, is a long-term aftercare and housing program in Bucks County focused on helping women over 18 who have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

Dan Emr, the Founder and Executive Director of Worthwhile Wear, is no stranger to humanitarian work. Growing up on the mission field in the Ukraine, he had an excellent vantage point to see the Lord use his father’s business skills and his mother’s nursing experience to produce a Bible college and six churches that remain strong today. Dan graduated from Clearwater Christian College and pursued a career in sales and marketing for an engineering firm. After six years, Dan left the corporate world to pursue his passion to free exploited women. Using his business skills and experience, he developed Worthwhile Wear, its local program, The Well, and the sustainable employment opportunities through Freedom Boutique and Worthwhile Thrift.


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How Can You Help an Aging Loved One?

JMC Compassionate Care is the Bucks County Women’s Journal this issue again, and I’m really touched by the way they operate.  Here’s their article – I recommend them if you’re in a situation like this.

2014-09-29_16-31-11Do you have a proud aging loved one in need of care but ashamed to accept any help for fear of losing his or her independence? Is something as small as running an errand or preparing them a home-cooked meal hard for them to accept?

At JMC Compassionate Care, we know how to break those barriers and form relationships with your loved ones. Because we take pride in the relationships we build, our clients go from denial to looking forward to our return.

If you have a busy schedule, it can be challenging to make sure your loved one is being cared for and safe. We know it is hard for family members and friends to maintain productive lives themselves when worrying about their loved ones in need.

At JMC, we make communication with all friends and family members a priority. It can be frustrating and hard on everyone when family members don’t live close to each other. That’s why we take the necessary steps to keep everyone involved near or far.

JMC Compassionate Care creates customized programs that can change as your senior’s needs change. Our caregivers have the utmost respect for your loved one’s dignity. We understand the magnitude of emotions that arise when serving their special needs. We will assist your loved ones gracefully and with the compassion they deserve.

Our caregivers have been trained and certified. We carefully select and personally match the right caregiver with your loved one. We consider personality, temperament, ability, and experience level as we choose the caregivers to place in your home. We have a wide range of Senior Care Providers. However, the one thing they have in common is the desire to help others.

Our process starts with an in-depth interview to uncover your loved one’s needs. Once we thoroughly understand which senior care services to provide to make your loved one’s life easier and more enjoyable, we match your loved one with a caregiver. We strive to ensure a successful, caring, compassionate experience.

Our goal is to provide the highest level of care at an affordable rate that will meet each individual’s needs. Our staff is fully trained to meet and exceed those needs.

Our services include but are not limited to:
• Preparing meals
• Food shopping
• Running errands
• Taking seniors to doctor appointments
• Light housekeeping
• Laundry
• Medication reminders
• 24-hour care
• Respite care
• …or simply someone to spend time with

Our in-home care services are designed specifically to offer as much or as little help as your loved one requires to enjoy living independently at home or in a facility. Is your senior experiencing the normal struggles of aging or is he or she recovering from of a recent hospital stay or sickness? Our goal is to keep your loved one comfortable and independent. JMC Compassionate Care can help make your loved one’s life easier and more enjoyable.

Our senior personal care program encompasses the following services:

• Bucks County elder care
• Alzheimer’s and dementia care
• Help with bathing, grooming, and hygiene
• Mobility assistance
• Assistance with toileting and incontinence
• Feeding and help with special diets

Click here to read more 

Want to be in the only women’s educational newspaper in Bucks County?  Click here to ask for more information.

Robin Coppinger
Bucks County Women’s Journal


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