Sunday, 27 February 2011

Go It Alone

As I am away on my travels after our concerts at the end of this week, all those pupils who are coming to Song School, or competing in Inverness Festival are clamouring for extra lessons.

What I really wish I could do is to slice myself in two and let the 'piano playing' body parts be with all those have to sing with other, and unknown pianists! Having to let them cope alone, and make their own musical statements is, I imagine like letting your precious 5 year old walk through the school gates and begin a new experience in life without Mummy.

I know exactly how my pupils sing their songs, I know exactly where they need to speed up and slow down, and I know before they do when they are running out of breath. It is the most agonising wrench when I simply have to allow them to go it alone.

Trying to teach them how to take control and establish their own speed within the first bar of singing, and sticking to their guns when an accompanist thinks that they know best, is a tough and grown up thing to do. It took me years!

Singers often feel lesser mortals in the world of musicians, indeed, we cannot be members of the Musicians Union, we have to belong to Equity, the Actor's Union. This must be a leftover from the days when singers belonged to the more amateur and 'pretty' end of the business - who knows? So essentially trying to be assertive with a youngish, arrogantish and overly ambitious pianist is a big ask when one is 18 and has only had an empathetic teacher/player !

However, it has to be done, and I will just have to get over it! Those youngsters who will swim alone at the festival will do their best I know, but there will be a small portion of my brain thinking about them and throwing a small prayer up to that Heavenly corner which caters for singers !

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