Monday, November 9, 2009

The Giggling Soubrette

Fabulous, fabulous voice lesson today with the woman I mentioned before. She lives in this beautiful old house with a gorgeous view. I instantly felt comfortable, which is good since I was getting a voice lesson and it wouldn't be a good lesson had I been uptight. I told her my grandfather's story, she told me some things about herself and we got to work. Basically she helped me focus my breath to a point between my eyes, above my nose, to create a resonance in my head. Basically. Of course it's more complicated than that - we went up and down the scale and worked on achieving the sound with different notes and vowels. She had me talking like Julia Child. She told me to relax my throat as if I were vomiting. Of course that made me laugh. I never thought of vomiting as a relaxing activity. But she pointed out that when you vomit, your throat opens up to let it all out so you don't choke. She also had me closing off the top of my nose as if I were swimming underwater. She had me hold a 5 pound weight out in front of me. I had noticed them sitting there next to the recorder and thought it was an odd place for them... now I know why they were there. Holding the weight had the same effect as when my teacher has me sit on the wall or do yoga - it got me to focus my breath to where it needed to be. Then when I achieved the resonance and the bright sound that we were striving for, I'd have to stop singing because I always started to laugh. She laughed too and said that my laughter was from the joy of making music. It sounds really hokey to put it into words like that, but it was great at the time. And when it all came together - the resonance, the brightness, the air pressure and the open throat - it took off on its own. Until I started laughing of course. But it felt great. It really did.

We went over Una Donna and she helped me recreate that feeling in parts of the song where I was losing it. Specifically it was the G. She said I have a passaggio there and I have to flip my voice over to the other side of the shelf. Funny that she used the same term for the upper passaggio that I've been using myself to describe how I manage the lower passaggio - getting over the shelf.

She said that in her opinion I am a soubrette. I nodded and then looked it up as soon as I got home. No, it's not a hot-dog. But I like the description so I'll say ok, I'm a soubrette. Not that I want to lock myself into one type of singer or another. But since I'm not out there auditioning for flirty, street-wise sidekick roles, or any roles for that matter, I think I'm ok with the idea of the label. Plus it makes me seem more official. If someone asks, I can say, "Oh, me? I'm a classic soubrette soprano."

She was so sweet. She asked me about what I'm singing and gave me recommendations of songs to learn. She asked what my teacher and I are working on, vocally, and I said that we are working on getting that full sound at those notes on certain vowels - basically the same stuff. But hearing it described a different way from a different teacher really did make a huge difference. She said she didn't want to... how did she put it... she didn't say "step on her toes," but she was concerned about not wanting to offend my teacher by offering me advice. I assured her that my teacher will be thrilled by any progress I make, no matter how I make it.

I'm sure there's more fun stuff that I'm leaving out, but that's what I can remember now. I recorded the lesson. I can't wait to listen and practice and giggle with disbelief at how I sound.


Frescamari said...

Your comment about the hot dog made me smile!

Susan said...

Hahah well I was like, what? Sabrette? I think I had one of those at a baseball game...