Author Archives: admin

Busking at Wellspring Op Shop Iluka

On Friday I was lucky enough to be able to play my harp and banjo at the Wellspring Op Shop at Iluka. I feel very fortunate to have had an opportunity to play there. The people who run this Op Shop work very hard and do amazing things to support our local community.

In spite of rain threatening for most of the morning while I was there, I managed to avoid being rained out and met many lovely local people who came up to chat and listen to the music.

The Op Shop is open Wednesday 9am – 12pm, Thursday & Friday 9am – 3pm and Saturday from 9am – 1pm. The Food Pantry is now open at the new time of 9am – 2pm each Friday.

Being the last day of the school holidays meant that there were many children and families from all over who were out and about and keen to come and say hello. That was great and it really made my day. I hope I see more of those happy faces this term for music lessons. Term 4 lessons start from 14th Oct through to the 20th December.

Lessons with StringSong Music are available Mon-Fri from 10am to 7pm. I teach from my home in the Lower Clarence Valley or via Skype (Singing, Bass, Banjo, Celtic Harp & Autoharp, Flute, Guitar, Keyboard, Mandolin & Ukulele). I offer Casual and Ongoing rates for half an hour or 1 hour.

If you are interested in learning more you can contact me via my Contact Form.

StringSong Music – Leeann Flynn
Lower Clarence Valley – Ashby, Chatsworth Island, Gulmarrad, Harwood, Iluka, Maclean, Woombah, Yamba



Loving the Iluka Markets & Emporium

Who doesn’t love a good local country market? Last weekend  being out and about in the Clarence Valley was great. I had the good fortune of playing of being able to play my harp at the Iluka Emporium on the Saturday and then enjoyed watching dolphins as we went downstream along the Clarence River to Iluka. On the Sunday we were out and about and spent some time at our local market; run by the Iluka Woombah Rotary Club. It is lovely to be somewhere where there is so much great talent and good will in the community.

Iluka Emporium: 61 Charles St,
Open Thurs – Mon 9am-3pm

It was so much fun playing at the opening of TJ & Michelle Ansoul’s art gathering as Featured artists for October. Apart from all the fabulous works these lovelies have created there is a wonderful array of interesting and beautifully crafted works as well as many trinkets and upcycled funky products to admire and have as your own. Thanks Annie & Michelle for including us (Lily P) and making us feel so welcome – the Emporium is a wonderful must see experience in Iluka.

Iluka Markets are run each monthly at the Sports Ground on the 1st Sunday of every month.

The markets are a great way to start the day wherever you are and the creativity and friendliness of this one is just a treat. I feel very fortunate to be in the company of so many clever and generous people. To start with we found Brenda and Marianne handmade crafts. These very clever ladies run local events to help others learn a new skill or to enjoy the company of new and old friends whilst working on a favourite crafting activity.

Bren & Maggies Creations – run by Brenda & Mariannne, they are regulars at Iluka Markets each month – be sure to check ’em out.

We worked our way around to the stalls and found Palmers Island Plants displaying an excellent selection of flowering plants, shrubs and trees.

Palmers Island Plants – great plants – very good valueh

Next was of course foodies fun – the delicious Frosty’s Gourmet, I am a sucker for a really good chutney, jam and spread. This stall has a great variety to choose from. I am so glad that they are regulars at my local market.

Frosty’s Gourmet – the best Jams & spreads I have tasted in a long time 🙂

Recently, I made a new friend who lives on the corner up from our new home. She is a very talented grower and offers seedlings for you veggie patch as well as very pretty flowering plants. Very kindly she helped us in choosing a beautiful Tahitian Lime tree for our garden. Robin it was so good to see you at the market this weekend.

Robin’s Plants – she even had a cool refreshing bowl of water for my doggie to have a drink from – thanks Robin :-

Of course all markets have a wonderful range of jewellery and adornments. I was very lucky to meet Margot Ljungberg, a talented Jewellery Designer from Emerald Beach Jewellery Design. Margot’s work is delicately crafted and of very high quality. Her pieces are made for both casual or formal wear and she has many items suiting all budgets and tastes. I hope I get to see you again Margot – maybe next month.

If you are interested in making an inquiry about Booking Leeann for Music  Lessons in the Lower Clarence Valley or via Skype (Singing, Bass, Banjo, Celtic Harp & Autoharp, Flute, Guitar, Keyboard, Mandolin & Ukulele)  or Performances please use Leeann’s Contact Form.

StringSong Music – Leeann Flynn
Lower Clarence Valley – Ashby, Chatsworth Island, Gulmarrad, Harwood, Iluka, Maclean, Woombah, Yamba


What About the Bass

Have you ever thought to yourself “I love that cool groove, maybe I should learn the Bass Guitar”? If so then you’ve come to the right place.

Here are 10 reasons why playing bass is a fabulous musical pursuit:

  1. 1. The bass guitar has a rich sound that cannot be replaced by any other instrument.
  2. 2. It is versatile and adds depth to all musical styles and all bands need a bass player.
  3. 3. You can be both a percussionist and a note player all in one.
  4. 4. Without the bass player the band can and in some cases does loose their way.
  5. 5. The bassist and drummer can lead the band and keep the groove in place.
  6. 6. It is as complicated or as simple to play as you decide.
  7. 7. The bass can sound great whether you are a beginner or an experienced musician.
  8. 8. It is way more portable than a double bass and has a very satisfying sound.
  9. 9. You can be creative in developing your own runs and patterns.
  10. 10. There is so much music available to play on bass.

If you are interested in making an inquiry about Booking Leeann for Music  Lessons in the Lower Clarence Valley or via Skype (Singing, Bass, Banjo, Celtic Harp & Autoharp, Flute, Guitar, Keyboard, Mandolin & Ukulele)  or Performances please use Leeann’s Contact Form.

StringSong Music – Leeann Flynn
Lower Clarence Valley – Ashby, Chatsworth Island, Gulmarrad, Harwood, Iluka, Maclean, Woombah, Yamba


Singing Practice or Just Singing

Singing can be so much fun, our favourite songs can take us back in time or bring feelings of intense joy, peace and euphoria, as well as help us tap into deep feelings of sadness or melancholy. Before we know it, time passes and we may have sung the same song over and over or waded through several tunes not knowing how long we’ve been singing or why we chose the songs we’ve sung.

So singing is about engaging in the song fully and becoming one with it, often this occurs in isolation when we can be uninhibited and free to go with the flow. Practicing, however, is almost the opposite to this. It involves understanding the challenges and skills required to perform the song to the best of our ability: pitching, phrasing, dynamics, use of tonal variations, appropriate breathing and expressing ourselves in a way that invites the audience into our space.

Songs we love to sing teach us about how we use our voice and what is meaningful to us. Developing a personal style is important as a singer because every singer has something unique to share. It takes time to understand your sound and ‘your voice’, so be patient – it can be like digging for treasure. Half of good singing is listening to what we are doing as we sing.

Practice time needs to be planned. It is a good idea to have a place where you feel safe to perform, rehearse and try out new skills. Lots of people practice in their bedroom. A room where you can stand is good so your posture supports you. Some people practice sitting, this is really a last resort (eg if you are practicing in the car). Know what you want to learn and make a list of songs you’ve decided to master. Think about how hard or easy these are. If you only have a short space of time to practice decide how much of the song to work on eg just the chorus or a single verse. A short practice biting off a small chunk is better than no practice.

Before you start working on chosen songs you wish to master, make sure you use your vocal warm ups your singing teacher has shown you or ones you feel help you to loosen up physically and emotionally to get you going. Usually these are a mix of body work and breathing exercises and then pitch and vocal stretches (scales and vocal patterns).

Unless the songs you choose are ones you know well, try to only work on one song in each practice session and do it well, rather than just singing songs from beginning to end and moving on without polishing.  Sing your chosen song a few times and then record yourself. Listen to your pitching, phrasing etc. What are you happy with? What do you need to work on? If you don’t have sheet music, use the lyrics on paper so you can highlight and write reminders to yourself about what you are doing eg breathe marks, variations in dynamics etc. Phrasing takes time with a new song so remember to breathe.  

Let’s say you have half an hour set aside to sing the structure for your practice time might be like this:

  1. * 3-5min on breathing and physically stretching
  2. * 5mins on scales and vocal patterns (dependent or how you’re feeling)
  3. * 3-5min singing a favourite well known song you feel you’ve already mastered
  4. * 15min closely working on your chosen new song,
  5. singing through 1-2 times all the way through and then breaking it up into sections chorus, verse, bridge etc and polishing these sections as you go

If you feel you have struggled with a song it is a good idea to finish your practice time with a song that you really enjoy singing. Sometimes practice sessions help us to understand the challenges in songs that we may not have first seen. We can feel disheartened when we realise that perhaps the song is harder than we originally thought. Familiarity can breed contempt for a song and at this point and we may feel like giving up, but sticking with it offers the reward of true mastery. Be patient with yourself. Communicate with your teacher so they can provide some assistance.

Having a practice routine helps you to further develop your intuitive skills as a singer. Songs that have been practiced rather than sung over and over can become works of art that you create. Copying other artists’ styles helps singers to grow and exposes them to the many tools vocalists use. Once you’ve played with these tools you can make them our own, and go beyond copying to creating.

Singers who practice work to find the ‘rules’ that someone else has made in each song, they learn them, master them and then break them when they want to, in order to make the song their own. Singing then is the beginning and end of the process – with practice as the mid-point, so that whether you sing in your bedroom or to an audience you can feel free and uninhibited enough to showcase your gifts.

If you are keen to learn more about singing, warm ups, exercises and finding your voice, feel free to contact me or leave a comment about your own experiences.

If you are interested in making an inquiry about Booking Leeann for Music  Lessons in the Lower Clarence Valley or via Skype (Singing, Bass, Banjo, Celtic Harp & Autoharp, Flute, Guitar, Keyboard, Mandolin & Ukulele)  or Performances please use Leeann’s Contact Form.

StringSong Music – Leeann Flynn
Lower Clarence Valley – Ashby, Chatsworth Island, Gulmarrad, Harwood, Iluka, Maclean, Woombah, Yamba


Learning to Garden along the Lower Clarence River

Dietes – A clump-forming, rhizomatous perennial from South Africa.

We have been living in the Iluka/ Woombah area now for several months.

https://www.whereis.com/nsw/woombah-2469

When we arrived it was winter and there were so many lovely shades of green – it rained hard for a few days and since then no rain really (maybe it has been 2 months now without rain). I realise we are more fortunate in terms of rainfall here than many of our friends and family who live further inland from the coast and have had little if no rain at all.

Since the 1st of September the garden has come alive. A new friend told us that at this time of year ‘it is as if the flowers just know it is time to wake up’ and they do. I have a baby Japanese Maple that I brought with me from our garden in Victoria. I have been worried it was about to die. During our travels between leaving Victoria and moving into our new home the Maple suffered the misfortune of being nibbled by a rabbit one evening when I left it outside in the fresh air. Now however, after being re-potted and given some fresh soil she seems to have come back with to strong healthy branches and a tiny curl of leaves forming between them.

I am learning a lot about how things grow in a new climate. So far it has not been very hard as most things love it here as much we do. You are welcome to add a tip for me about planting, veggie patching, mulching or anything you love to share about your favourite plants…


The Clarence at Sunset

I was sitting on the banks of the Clarence River looking out towards Maclean and playing my guitar recently as the sun was setting. The smoke from the fires at Sharks Creek was still in the air and I was thinking to myself how beautiful the sky looked.

Satellite imagery of blaze at Angourie in NSW spreading across the peninsula. Picture: Channel 9.

Satellite imagery of blaze at Angourie in NSW spreading across the peninsula. Picture: Channel 9.Source:Channel 9

Living in the Clarence Valley is a wonderful experience. We were out with friends yesterday from Melbourne and they were lucky enough to see dolphins in the Clarence River at Yamba, kangaroos in our front yard, kookaburras along the fence, koalas in the trees along the roadway, and whales at the beach looking down towards the Bluff at Iluka.

Iluka Bluff Lookout

What a great day. We came back and enjoyed each others company.

This morning before they left we had a quick mini harp lesson to send them on the next leg of their journey. I hope they have a wonderful time up north.

If you are interested in making an inquiry about Booking Leeann for Music  Lessons in the Lower Clarence Valley or via Skype (Singing, Bass, Banjo, Celtic Harp & Autoharp, Flute, Guitar, Keyboard, Mandolin & Ukulele)  or Performances please use Leeann’s Contact Form.

StringSong Music – Leeann Flynn
Lower Clarence Valley – Ashby, Chatsworth Island, Gulmarrad, Harwood, Iluka, Maclean, Woombah, Yamba



How to Warm-Up & Practice Singing in Your Car Each Day

Singing Lessons with Leeann Flynn can booked through StringSong Music.

Singing practice can sometimes be tricky, especially if you are a busy person. Of course the ideal situation for practicing singing is to be able to stand so you are freely supporting your body and so that you able to use your diaphragm efficiently. A lot of singers sit to accompany themselves as they sing (keyboard players, guitarists, harpists) so standing is not always an easy option when practicing and performing. So developing a process that works for you and which suits your needs is worth pursuing.

Before you embark on practicing in a mobile situation it is important to gather together what you will need:

For those singers who spend time travelling to and from work each day by car these suggestions are hopefully going to be of some value to you.

* a device of some kind to play your exercises on (phone, MP3 player or tablet)

* seat adjusted so your back is straight, you will need to consider this even more so if you are practicing regularly whilst sitting

* a recording of your chosen warm-ups and exercises (scales)

* a recording of your chosen song – preferably a version with a lead singer to start with and then more importantly a version that is just an accompaniment (backing track or instrumental)

* have drinking water available  

1. Start off by breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth: a technique I use with my students is get them to mentally count to 5 on the in breath, then hold for a second or two and then slowly release the breath out through your mouth counting to 5 as you release. This is excellent for stress relief, as well as oxygenating the brain in preparation for singing. Repeat this step 4 or 5 times or as need – you know it is enough when you feel relaxed.

2. Hum softly for 3-5minutes. Humming entails making notes with your mouth closed, you will be breathing in and out through your nose as you do this. The use of humming as part of warming your voice up for singing is excellent as it forces you to really breathe well and use your diaphragm to help produce sounds. You could hum a song you would normally sing, however when warming up scales are a good place to start as you can focus on your pitch and getting long or short notes in a deliberate way.

3. A CD or MP3 file of scale warm-ups can be very handy to have playing – it is ideal to hear these scales through speakers and sing along rather than with ear buds in, as sometimes hearing yourself sing can be challenging. The important thing as you practice scales is to hear your voice as you sing each note, so that you know that your pitch work is effective.

4. Have the song you want to work on available – it is preferable to have a recording with a lead vocalist, so you can sing through with a guide singer. The best option is having the song as a backing track or as an instrumental version so that you can hear yourself as you sing. If you are practicing a song without a recording choose something very familiar lyrically. Remember it may not always be easy to work on learning lyrics as effectively as you would when not travelling.

5. Consider what it is you want to work on. Dynamics (variations in loud and soft sounds) is a great thing to work on in the car, especially if no-one is listening; this is one area singers sometimes forget to work on. Phrasing, timing and breathe work also areas you can work on in a mobile situation.

6. Plan your practice according to the length of the journey. If your make your own recording or use one from your singing lessons then the timing of how you practice will be more precise. 

Practicing should be a challenge, but also self-fulfilling in as much as it provides pleasure and a sense of a achievement. Take your time and be patient with yourself. Progress happens when strategic planning and dedication to using your time effectively occurs.

Let me know what your experiences have been like with this – I would love your feedback regarding any suggestions you have found useful.

If you are interested in making an inquiry about Booking Leeann for Music  Lessons in the Lower Clarence Valley or via Skype (Singing, Bass, Banjo, Celtic Harp & Autoharp, Flute, Guitar, Keyboard, Mandolin & Ukulele)  or Performances please use Leeann’s Contact Form.

StringSong Music – Leeann Flynn
Lower Clarence Valley – Ashby, Chatsworth Island, Gulmarrad, Harwood, Iluka, Maclean, Woombah, Yamba


Top 10 reasons to play Celtic Harp –


Learn to play Celtic Harp with Leeann Flynn, StringSong Music

The Celtic harp is one of the most relaxing and endearing instruments both for player and the listener. When  listening to this particular harp it is easy to understand how the gentle sounds of the instrument help people to feel peace and calm. The harp is both inspiring and interesting to people everywhere and it is a gift to others when someone shares its beautiful sounds. Celtic harp music has a rich history and touches each person deeply… it is music for joy, sadness, love and rest.

Here are some more reasons to play Celtic Harp…

  1. 1. The sound and feeling from the harp gives the player a great sense of inner peace
  2. 2. Accompanying someone as they sing is easy
  3. 3. There is a wide variety of sheet music available for instrumental playing
  4. 4. You can play just about any style of music on the harp
  5. 5. Composing your own music on the harp is very pleasurable
  6. 6. It has been said that the sound of the harp’s strings being plucked can help to relieve physical aches and pain
  7. 7. Harpers have been known to help babies and people who suffering an illness to fall asleep as they listen to harp’s gentle sounds
  8. 8. Learning the harp engages the left and right hemispheres of the brain and strengthens body – brain connections
  9. 9. The satisfaction of being able to carry on ancient tradition which brings with it echoes from another time
  10. 10. Playing the harp is a highly physical activity and helps the player maintain cardio vascular health, as the harpers arms are always raised as they play which ensures healthy blood flows.

Leeann playing and accompanying herself as she sings ‘A woman’s Heart’ at the Art n All That Jazz’ Art exhibition.

If you are interested in making an inquiry about Booking Leeann for Music  Lessons in the Lower Clarence Valley or via Skype (Singing, Bass, Banjo, Celtic Harp & Autoharp, Flute, Guitar, Keyboard, Mandolin & Ukulele)  or Performances please use Leeann’s Contact Form.

StringSong Music – Leeann Flynn
Lower Clarence Valley – Ashby, Chatsworth Island, Gulmarrad, Harwood, Iluka, Maclean, Woombah, Yamba


Learning the Ukulele – How to enrich your Brain…

Norwegian Wood performed by Leeann Flynn on the Ukulele

The Ukulele is an instrument that appeals to all ages and is fun to play as your first instrument or yet another to tuck under your arm and minstrel your way down the road of life. When choosing your ukulele the first thing to consider is what size you want. Ukuleles more commonly come in four sizes: Soprano, Concert, Tenor and Baritone. Each size brings with it sounds that are unique to the particular size. As with string instruments in general, smaller sizes are sweeter and higher as opposed to the larger sizes being deeper and lower. Each instrument has it’s own rich sound and is worth experimenting with to know what suits you.

Music and its effects on the brain are well documented; enhancing long and short term memory, growth of new neural pathways and even pain relief. Playing the ukulele relieves stress and helps you let go of your everyday worries; giving your chattering mind a break.

Some more reasons to play the Ukulele:

It sounds beautiful

Increases co-ordination and fine motor skills

Enhances body –brain connections

Mental Agility

Develops skills of co-processing

Enhances well-being

Lifts the spirit

A great sense of unity with the instrument occurs and a sense of being in your own centred space

Promotes Social Engagement –

Playing with and for others gives pleasure to the player and the listener.

A very portable instrument

It easy, portable, sounds sweet.

If you are interested in making an inquiry about Booking Leeann for Ukulele Lessons in the Lower Clarence Valley or via Skype (Singing, Bass, Banjo, Celtic Harp & Autoharp, Flute, Guitar, Keyboard, Mandolin & Ukulele)  or Performances please use Leeann’s Contact Form.

StringSong Music – Leeann Flynn
Lower Clarence Valley – Ashby, Chatsworth Island, Gulmarrad, Harwood, Iluka, Maclean, Woombah, Yamba


Banjo: a very friendly instrument to learn to play

The Banjo playing garden gnome…

I first became inspired to play banjo after seeing Billy Connolly and Ralph McTell playing together, Ralph was playing his guitar tenderly and Billy was of course playing banjo. After that I was hooked. Billy has been a great example to me of someone who has a desire to play and who has doggedly worked to master his skills, and make it all look like so much fun.

Learning The Banjo

Here is a snippet of Billy talking about his experiences as a beginner banjo player.

Billy Connolly ~ Cripple Creek

Here is Billy’s rendition of this well known Bluegrass piece. A great example of claw hammer style playing.

The banjo can be a four, five, or six-stringed instrument with a resonator also known as the head or body (looks like a drum –which be plastic or animal hide). The banjo is believed to have been developed by early African Americans who brought it with them from West Africa in the 17th century.

4 String banjo is well known in Celtic, Jazz, Ragtime and Dixieland music. Here is a link to learn more about 4 String Banjo and its features.

5 String has become more associated with Bluegrass, Old Time, Mountain, Folk & Country music. This is a great site for learning more about buying your next 5 String Banjo.

6 String banjo, sometimes referred to as a Banjo Guitar or Banjitar has been around for about 100 years and plays much the same as a guitar lending itself well to blues, country, Dixieland, ragtime and modern music. Here is a link to learn more about what to look for when buying a 6 String Banjo.

The banjo is such a wonderfully versatile instrument. In more recent times it has become well known in Bluegrass:

Earl Scruggs And Friends – Foggy Mountain Breakdown

however, any style of music can be played on the banjo. Historically speaking it grew out of the African American folk culture and today it has strong associations with: Old time, folk, traditional Irish, country, modern rock and pop, Dixieland, Jazz & Gospel and even classical music.

Here are some examples of how versatile and enjoyable it is to play Banjo:

Mumford & Sons – Little Lion Man (Live from Red Rocks)

Modern Irish pop

Taylor Swift – Mean (Live from New York City)

Country Pop – an example of a 6 string banjo


Pete SeegerDown By The Riverside

African American Spirituals & folk

Anaconda – Vintage Bluegrass Hoedown – Style Nicki Minaj Cover feat. Robyn Adele Anderson

Great example of styles old and new blended together

Dixie Chicks bluegrass melody

Great 5 string with fiddle

Tenor Banjo Dixieland Bill Bailey

Great example of this style

John Bullard – Telemann Aria I, Partita No. 5 (Classical Banjo: The Perfect Southern Art)

Fabulous, so much early banjo was written for classical players.

92-year old banjo player blazes through a Jazz medley on his Vega plectrum.

Banjo is an instrument for any age and any style…

Dirty Old Town – Leeann Flynn on Banjo Lessons StringSong Music

If you are interested in making an inquiry about Booking Leeann for Music  Lessons in the Lower Clarence Valley or via Skype (Singing, Bass, Banjo, Celtic Harp & Autoharp, Flute, Guitar, Keyboard, Mandolin & Ukulele)  or Performances please use Leeann’s Contact Form.

StringSong Music – Leeann Flynn
Lower Clarence Valley – Ashby, Chatsworth Island, Gulmarrad, Harwood, Iluka, Maclean, Woombah, Yamba



Subscribe