Sunday, October 12, 2008

"The Only Thing Stopping You is You"

That's what my voice teacher said to me last week. I forgot all about it, but luckily I wrote it down, and I came across it again the other day.

She's right. I am the only "thing" stopping me. I kept that in mind as we went over Vedrai Carino this week. I vowed to not be the thing stopping me. So we went over the IPA, the rhythm and the melody. Then we jumped right in and started singing line by line. And you know what? Once I stopped being the thing that stops me, I instantly noticed an improvement. I'm slowly but surely getting better at coordinating the breath and the throat. I'm not yet at the point where I can just instantly relax my throat and use my low breath, but I can get there much faster than it was taking me before, and I don't have to concentrate on it as much.

It is such a relief to be back with an Italian aria. The French was a pain in my arse, to tell the truth. And what's funny is, I studied French much more extensively than I studied Italian back in college. I'm sure that the fact that my major field of study was Spanish has a lot to do with it. I do find myself having Spanish interference sometimes with the Italian words. For example, in Vedrai Carino I want to say Vedrai Carin-yo, as if there were a tilde ~ over the n, because that's the word in Spanish. So like everything else, I just have to train myself.

And speaking of training, I practice all the time. When I'm not singing I'm thinking about singing and about the music. I also practice reading along in the music while listening to the accompaniment. As a result, I'm slowly getting better at reading music. I can't glance at a staff and tell you the note, but I'm pretty good with note-to-note relations, so I can learn a new piece of music that way. "Ok, these two are the same, and this is a half step up, and this is an 8th note, and then back down a third..." and so on.

I love that all the different layers I'm learning are getting easier for me to put together. The breathing, the throat opening, vertical space, taffy-pull rubber-band type throat, and then the notes, the pronunciation, the words, the music, the rhythm, the meaning, the feeling and the legato. I would love to be able to pick up a new piece of music and have that all come together right away, but my style of learning is that I have to focus on one or maybe two layers at a time before integrating them or adding another. But it's getting easier and easier to integrate them with each new piece I study. Not to say that it's easy, but it's not as frustratingly difficult as it was at first.

Now I just have to remember to not be the thing that stops me.

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