Monday, January 17, 2011

Little Things

Sounding better and better after each lesson. Funny that.

The lesson takes place in my teacher's living room. A few weeks ago, instead of standing in one spot next to the piano, I decided to use more of the room. I mean it's not a huge room, but there is space in the middle with no furniture. And once I started doing that, I started sounding better. Suddenly I wasn't just standing there. Walking and moving somehow helps me to focus. I don't move the entire time, but I have given myself permission to not just be a statute next to the piano.

A couple of weeks ago my voice teacher's friend, also an opera singer/voice teacher, came to the lesson. He said he was amazed at the difference in my voice since the last time he heard me. He gave me some really good pointers. Sometimes they talked about me like I wasn't in the room! It was nice, it was all good.

Anyway, so once again it comes down to consistency. I am able to hit higher notes than I've ever dreamed possible (for me) but something inside me is afraid. Afraid of the note, afraid of having it sound wrong, afraid of something. I look back at my own history and see a pattern. When I was learning Una Donna a 15 anni I was afraid of the jump "finger ri=so... finger pia--nti" to the "so" and the "ti." The fear would cause me to close down on it and then I wouldn't be able to hit it. Now I have no problem with it. But here I am learning Ombra Mai Fu, (with that recit at the start, but I think I'm learning it in a slightly higher key than that, because I can do that one no prob but the low notes are a bit low for me) and there's a note at the end, the 2nd to last "soave piu" where the "piu" is a jump up to a note that I fear. I fear it, and I close down. I have to get over the fear and just do it. Sometimes I can hit it nicely. I can't (yet) hold it out as long as I'd like, or as long as I guess I'm supposed to, without closing down on it. So I'm hoping that I'll get over it, be able to do it, later while learning (and fearing) some new jump, wonder why I ever had trouble with it. At least I'm consistent with that...

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the tweet! I came here to see how far out in NJ you were, and just read your blog entry, very nice! Here's an idea to try for "...soave più" --

At the end of the [a] in "soave," be sure you're sustaining a really good, pure [a] to the very end. That's what's really important about this phrase. Then when you leap up to the [E] vowel, the [v] will be quick because you've sustained the [a] as long as you possibly can, and concentrate on making the [E] free and comfortable in your voice, no matter what. If it's more comfortable to do a more closed [e] vowel, that's cool too. Just don't do a diphthong on it, and don't make it a schwa. Make it a good committed vowel, and define what that vowel is to yourself. At that point, you just go to the "più" and there's no time to do it the wrong way or to second guess yourself.

And even though that's the highest note, it's not the important one. Melodically, it's the resolution of the dissonance. The dissonance (always, in baroque music!) should be louder than the consonance, or the resolution. And you don't AT ALL need to be literal about holding it the full note value. In baroque style, the lengths of notes were generally played half the length of the notated note, unless they had a specific articulation over them, which lengthens or shortened them.

I know in this case, there's a little dissonance in the orchestra being resolved under you, so you do need to hold long enough to let that happen. But it's your responsibility to make the [a] in "soave" long enough and stressed enough so that "più" sounds like a release. This will give the following silence before the final phrase the ability to be a little longer, i.e. a nice 'pregnant pause' - and then enjoy the final phrase.

Let's see if it works...

I'll be in touch if I don't find a flask. I just need it sometime before Feb 11, and maybe you'll be in town at some point?

Best wishes,