Wednesday, January 8, 2014

No Fear!

Normally I don’t make new year’s resolutions, but this year I did make just one: Don’t fear the high notes. There are notes that I can comfortably hit and sustain, but for some reason when they turn up with certain words in a song, or in a certain jump from another note, I swallow them. Why? Fear. For some reason I’ve been afraid of sounding screechy or flat or just plain wrong. But that fear was causing me to close up, which of course then makes the note screechy or flat or wrong. So from now on my motto is, don’t fear the high notes.

I've been missing my previous voice teacher a lot lately.  I can imagine what she'd tell me to do when the notes don't come out the way I want them to. Sometimes I can hear her voice in my head, telling me to lift lift lift my voice on top of the air, aim between my eyes, and so on.
I’m working on The Sun Whose Rays are All Ablaze, from the Mikado. There’s one note that under any other circumstance I have ZERO problems with, but here for some reason I have a mental block. I think it’s due to the consonants. The note is on the words, “our worth” and “awake.” I think the W is messing me up. And let’s not even talk about the R in “worth.” In fact, let’s forget it exists. The K in “awake,” too. Doing the W and then the R or K has been my downfall. Sure I want to have good pronunciation, but the phrase is repeated a moment later in notes that I sing just fine. It’s more important to keep a beautiful, round, rich open tone than to worry about pronouncing these two words perfectly. When I stuck that idea into my head, suddenly I could sing the notes! Such a simple solution. I just need to practice, practice, practice so that I do it correctly every time.

At yesterday’s voice lesson there were a few other people in the house, so for me it was a chance to practice singing in front of people. I definitely felt a little self-conscious. But after a little while I got used to it. I told my teacher how well I can sing in the shower and she suggested I keep that relaxed shower attitude whenever I sing. Except, keep my clothes on. Obviously.

She actually feels I’ve progressed enough to sing with the Opera Project main stage again. I’m not sure how to even bring that up with the director. I did ask him if they plan on having Wing singers in any main stage concerts this year, but they haven’t planned that far ahead yet. Then he told me that the Wing is planning to do scenes from Marriage of Figaro this Spring. To me, that’s pretty much a message to stay with the Wing. So for now I’ll just wait.
There’s actually no news on any upcoming Wing concerts for the library series. However, I learned that the showcase concert in May is going to be a little different this year. In the past, they assigned roles for a few scenes, and also had people sing arias or art songs. This time around they’re having auditions. I’ve been working on Marcelina’s part in the duet “Via resti servita” and I (personally) think that would be a fun one to do. But as much as I’d love to be in a scene, the reality of the situation is, I can’t attend a whole bunch of regular rehearsals, what with working full time, having a young kid who’s in swimming, baseball and sometimes soccer, etc. It’s also hard for me to find the time to learn the recit. I asked them if there’d be any possibility of a “park and bark” as I like to call it, to see if I can sing an aria or art song, but they said that Figaro will pretty much take up the entire program. So unless I get a part that’s just me running on stage and singing, I might not be able to participate. That makes me sad, especially because my former teacher created the Wing for people like me, to get practice singing in front of an audience. I don’t have a future goal of being a professional opera singer. I just like to sing. I kind of feel like a scenes-only show (consisting of mainly high-school students) excludes people like me – adults with a full time job and a family — and therefore goes against my former teacher’s intention when she created the group. But the group has evolved, as groups do, and there’s nothing I can do about it except continue to ask if I can do an aria. And I'll audition for the concert when the time comes. Hopefully it will all work out. Meanwhile, I’ll keep on studying. And who knows what other performance opportunities might crop up.

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