Wednesday, 28 July 2010
Giving Your All
Dame Janet Baker - a moment of musical and physical transcendance
I hope you enjoyed looking at a few pictures from our show. It was such a good production, and even from the few photos I posted there is such concentration and hard work happening.
People often tell me how easy singing looks, and 'is'nt it just natural?' Well, no actually. Of course to be a really good singer there must be a potential filled raw instrument - which many of us have - but, after that it is sweat and muscles, and a soupcon of magic. Singing is so internal that it becomes super difficult to see which muscles are actually working and which are not. Learning to control vocal folds, diaphragm and abdominal wall support muscles is a refined and complicated science, and that is before one adds in languages, memory, tuning, interpretation etc...............
The best analogy I can find when teaching my students is that of the ballet dancer. The view from the audience must be one of effortless grace, but we all know that the vast amount of physical endeavour behind that grace is enough to compete in a decathlon wearing a fur coat! Singers too, use huge amounts of undiluted energy to make the listener imagine they were simply born to sing for 12 bars, at fff, lying on one's back, and in just one masterly lungful!
I have felt the perspiration run down my arms and form tiny glowing pools of sweat, comprised of liquid droplets gently dribbled from my finger tips.
Costumes stick as if they are glued to the body, and at each stage exit, a dresser unlaces the bodice and wipes one's torso down, with towels from a pile in the wings.
I often think that 'sweat' is a jolly good gauge for the degree of physical imput a pupil is using! Infact one of my favourite, and most encouraging teaching truism is 'Sweat a bit!'
One of the least known of Einstein's formulae is :
90% Sweat + 8% Intelligence + 2% Magic = 100% Singer (We take the musicianship for granted don't you know)
Many years ago when I was teaching A Level Music in school there was commonly a question on the written essay paper.
'Singing is a Sport' Discuss.
Sport indeed, and there are always winners and always 'also rans'.
It's a tough old game, so give your all: Every time.