Friday, May 15, 2009

Go to the Mirror!

I was chatting with one of my professional opera singer friends yesterday. I told him what the reviewers said and asked him if he had any idea what the whole "locked registration" thing means. He said it was very vague and therefore, in his opinion, not very helpful. He suggested that perhaps it means she thought I was using my throat to make some of the notes? He was so cute because he became not exactly outraged but annoyed on my behalf because of the vagueness of the comments from that particular reviewer. Regarding the head/neck out of alignment thing, he suggested that I… yes… sing in front of the mirror to see what my head is doing. He reminded me that it's all about the breath, and that once you get that down, you can sing in any position.
So what it comes down to is… as much as I dislike it… I will go to the mirror… and sing.


Anonymous said...

Hi, and I think you are brave to document your singing journey on the Internet! I am also taking voice lessons and have been at it a little longer, but yet am not as bold as you about putting my singing out into public! Here's what I took from your eval and from seeing your singing clips. It's my $0.02 worth - take it for what it's worth, ignore it if you don't like it.

Looks to me (from your Finally, the After post) like you are doing something I used to do all the time - moving around while singing, in a way that might not be helping. It might be easier to explain if you look at these clips. They are of three performers who are very different from one another. Please check them out and in particular look at their shoulders, chest, and torso, and see two things: 1. shoulders are wide and back throughout, and 2. the shoulders-chest-torso area moves very little, even in very animated singing (see Bartoli!). You see them breathe, but you don't see them let the middle of their torso cave in, ever (a big temptation for me when sinsing). My teacher would try to get this across to me by requesting a more "queenly" i.e. regal posture. You could try that. (Yes, in front of the mirror).

Kathleen Battle - Over My Head I Hear Music in the Air

Sumi Jo - Serenade

Cecelia Bartoli - Alleluia

One more, of Dessay and Hampson.
See, about 1:47 and on, even though she is in a simple unconstructed gown, and sitting down with a handsome baritone draped over her knees, see how she keeps her torso straight and mostly shoulders back. (See from 3:49 and on, he isn't making it easy for her, but she is trying her darndest to keep that good singing posture). Poor, poor Natalie. (Not).

Also, I hear you go for those high notes, and by golly there they are, nice and clear, but to me it looks like you almost chicken out at the last second when approaching them, and they just aren't confident, not because you _can't_ sing them, but because you part-way chickened out. I don't think that's a technical thing. It's a practice - practice - practice thing. Enough practice and you will be used to how they sound to you and how they feel as you sing them, and then the confidence in them will sneak in there without your having to work at it.

There's almost a kind of trust in yourself that comes along - you know some notes are trickier than others, but instead of approaching them warily, just march right up to them and expect that they will behave for you. This is also true for long legato phrases - you know you are in danger of running out of breath, but don't fear it - keep singing that long line and expect yourself to have sufficient breath. Go for it fearlessly. You will have many cases of Fail while practicing, but, that's why we practice, to fail until we learn better, before we make people pay money for tickets, hmm? :-)

So, you know what to do. Back to the mirror, and practice. Be regal (but don't stick your jaw out - my voice teacher gets on me about that a lot). Carry on gal, and kudos to you for singing and telling us about it.

Susan said...

Thank you so much for your feedback and advice!! I know that *so* much of it is psychological. Even though I try not to, I do hold back on the higher notes, or when I think I'm going to run out of air. I'll try your approach and let the notes know who's in charge here!

Sitting back against the wall helps me a lot with that regal posture. I just have to maintain it without the wall.

I'll definitely check out the videos.

And yeah, I know... I'll practice in front of the mirror.

Thanks for reading and again, thanks so much for your comment!!

Good luck with your singing!!!