Friday, 3 September 2010

Cakes and Heavenly Bread

We had a super day, and my parents were delighted with the surprise family visitors and a beautiful cake made and gifted to them by a local cafe where we lunch every week. Many thanks to them indeed, it was a fantastically kind gesture and so much appreciated by the 'olds' !

My father is VERY deaf, and even though he wears 2 hearing aids, it is the sort of old aged deafness for which there is just no cure. Parties are a nightmare as he cannot filter speech, all noise is equally as loud. It must be a nightmare.

Sometimes, after all the years of Gale Force 10 resonance heading in my direction, my ears do infact hurt! I am sure it is a hazard of the job, and perhaps in many ways just as detrimental as working in a night club for years with pounding bass notes always shocking the eardrums. I know I have said this before, but days without noise are like liquid gold.

However, I cannot imagine what it must be like to never hear very much at all. After a career which has revolved around my ears and the fine listening required to teach well, how would it be to struggle to hear even the most basic sounds ? It is, thankfully, out of my sphere of perception at the moment - long may that last!

On another note, one of the most exciting elements of my job after the long summer holiday, is hearing the amazing changes in my young pupils voices - the growth is astonishing, and I suddenly find myself re assessing the student, and re jigging my thinking about repertoire, future choices, and simply marvelling at how ingenious and miraculous our bodies are at simply growing and developing.

Between the ages of 12 and 17 voices change on a day to day basis, and sometimes I can here explosive development within 6 or 7 days. You can imagine, therefore, what differences I hear after 2 months ! Young R who is 13, came for a lesson yesterday and nearly blew me away. She has always had a 'small and perfectly formed' voice, and having taught her since she was 8 or 9, I have wondered when the muscular fireworks will begin. Well it was yesterday! Suddenly the decibel level grows out of all proportion, and her already solid little technique knows what to do with it, and the two elements together make for magic.

This, I suppose is my argument for 'starting them young'. So many singing teachers will not touch under 18's, and make a great noise about them being too young blah blah. All my teaching life I have had a small number of under 10's, and kept safe, nurtured and heavily monitored, all I can say is that the earlier they are given some rules and tools for singing - just the most basics, ie Vowel shapes, intonation and story telling - they soar and roar ahead when the muscle growth finally begins to happen ! They are confident, assured and simply use what tools I have given them.

They have a major headstart.

This quiet confidence and assurance spills out into many parts of their life, school work and public speaking, not to mention interviews and 'interesting things to say' for CV's and University personal statements. I once taught a girl who had a beautiful and tiny voice at 8, and who went on to do very well, was academically very bright, but was never going to pursue singing as a career. At her Cambridge interview her panel could see she was clever, knew her subject very well, and almost took that for granted. What they asked her about was her singing, and how she had enjoyed playing Barbarina in the Marriage of Figaro, with reference to that fact that they felt her music told them more about her than any number of academic questions they could ask. That is, clearly, a simplified version of the story, but it did show how valuable music is to the rounded person!

Young R sang Panis Angelicus in her lesson yesterday, that lovely, yet often badly sung movement from Messe à trois voix Opus 12 by Cesar Franck, and she sang it with newly found passion, newly grown warmth of tone and much excited commitment for one of such tender years - but that was only made possible because much of the hard graft was done over the last 4 years by an intravenous drip of singing teaching, which she simply acquired by osmosis! Now, it's all happening, and she has the tools at hand. Magical, magical, it is why I do the job.

Suddenly I have become a bit medical!

Aaagh! It took me 4 goes to pass my O Level Biology................

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