Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Older, The Louder

The studio class was tonight. What fun! The anon poster on my other entry was right - everyone was so supportive and nice. Of course I had more in common with the parents...

The students were ages 12, 13, 17, 18 and me, 41. One of the mothers was younger than me. All the parents thought I was a college student.

We drew numbers for the order and I got to go first. That was fine with me, I was going to volunteer to anyway.

So here I am explaining my character, her background, her motivation, her feelings and so on. Interestingly, I was also the only one who described the character without using that "upspeak" questiony voice. Obviously I've had a lot more practice speaking in public - and not just because of my advanced age - I was a teacher before I had Alex. Explain something to a group of people? No problem.

And here I am singing. Do I look like I'm so distraught that I want to die? Um... that's in the music, it's not how I felt about my performance.

So I sang through it once, then my teacher came up and said that by holding my arms up like that I was lifting the breath from down deep where it needed to be. She had me really press my hands towards the floor and WOW what a difference! Like, an immediate improvement. It was unbelievable. We went over a few other bits and bars of music and then I sang through it again. Well I tried to but the first time I dissolved into giggles and had to start over. And I know why - I could hear the improvement and sometimes I get so astonished that I'm able to produce a pretty sound that I just start laughing. But then I managed to sing it pretty well, I thought. (although not as well as I can do it home alone of course...) I wasn't as unhappy with my performance as I was after the eval. Everyone applauded, which was really nice. They all commented on the instant improvement.

After me, the kids sang. Their biggest obstacle is their lack of self-confidence and their concern with what others are thinking about them. That bled into their singing and caused them to be timid and flat. By flat I don't mean the notes, I mean the affect or demeanor. So with them after they sang their piece, the teacher worked on drawing more emotion of out them so they could better convey what the character was feeling. Two of the students did it pretty well - the 12 year old and the one boy who I think was 17. The 13 year old was tall and gorgeous with a beautiful figure that she was obviously ashamed of because, well, she's 13. She tended to slouch and was sooo quiet. Once she relaxed and stopped giggling she produced some really beautiful sounds. She has a lot of potential once she gets older. Afterwards I told her that I often giggle uncontrollably during lessons and sometimes have to raise the music stand so I don't see the teacher's face, just so she knows she's not the only one. The age/confidence factor definitely made a difference - I sang the loudest and I threw myself into the character. My teacher gave me advice on technique only, while she focused on meaning and emotion with everyone else.

Afterwards we had some snacks and then I had to make a choice: In one corner, the students sat together chatting... in the other, the parents. Of course I ended up with the parents. After everyone else left (they had homework!!!) I stayed behind to help clean up and chat with my teacher. We decided that we will go see La Sonnambula together at the Met next season so I'll be getting tickets when they go on sale to the public.

I have two lessons left, both make-up lessons. One is Saturday the 21st, the other is as of yet unscheduled. My homework is to translate that French aria the Evaluators recommended. I wonder where I put it...

Until then... Alex turns 4 tomorrow!!! And rehearsals for La Traviata start next week. I guess eventually someone will let me know when and where...


Anonymous said...

Want me to have a look at your translation? We can discuss it on Gtalk if you want.


Lydia said...

Glad to see it went well! As much as I love singing for my studio, I always get very nervous. I hate it when teenagers speak in that "upspeak", and as a teenager, I refuse to talk like that, as it makes the speaker sound less intelligent. Sometimes, I just don't understand my age group. =)

Susan said...

Jimmy - Sure... Thanks!

Lydia - It was the 13 year old girl who spoke like that. Hopefully she'll stop as she gains self-confidence as she gets older.

When I was a teenager that questiony talk wasn't really "in style" or whatever the term is. Instead, we all said, "like" like, all the time. Like, when we like, started a sentence, and like, when we like were in like the middle of it... and like, also like at the end... ;) Drove the teachers nuts!

Mandolin Vision said...

Happy Birthday to Alex! a big deal!