Monday, 2 August 2010
Coo...... to Carmen
I was visiting a pupil this afternoon. She has just had a baby boy 8 weeksish ago, and he is a real poppet. Bearing in mind his father was a chorister, then music college student and then professional singer, and Mum has sung since she was old enough to talk, as well as in many shows, concerts, competitions etc, one would hope that Baby H will have so many singing genes he will burst forth into the Faure 'Pie Jesu' by the time he is about 2 and a half.
When dandling a baby on your knee it is so fascinating to watch it's little mouth already trying to shape sounds. In my teaching, and in the way I was taught, pure vowel shapes are the first discipline one instills in a newbie singer. I think we were probably born to have highly malleable lips and mouth cavity, and with each of my grandchildren, and now with this new little infant chorister, one can see how much natural movement there is, and therefore realise how much of this facility is lost as we grow up if it is not capitalised upon in childhood.
In normal conversation I notice many adults, as well as children talking as if there was an 'open mouth tax', enforced by every government since 1245, and the guillotine for those who open further than the size of a grotto for an malnourished ladybird ! Hence it is often difficult to understand what they say, or the level of sound would not penetrate further than the end of the nose!
I use 4 vowels, as did my teacher, and hers before that. OO, EE, AW, OW (as in Show). The sounds can be applied to many words in the English language, as well as many other languages, and gives a very strong focus to the tone quality. So scales are given, using only those simple sounds for a long....... time. Of course, my pupils and I would be bored witless if that is all we did in lessons, but you would be amazed how many words they fit, so even when singing songs the purity of the vowel is always focusing the tone.
Young Master H at 2 months old, can make a glorious OO shape, probably better than his dear fathers', whom I have taught for far too many years to count! But don't tell him I said so.
Sing to your babies, make them copy your mouth shapes, and RRRRRRR (roll your RR's) to them.
You may look like an idiot, but think about the tears of pride when they are starring in Carmen at the Met !
Match one of the aforesaid vowels to the each word -
You - OO