Thursday, 16 August 2012

Fitting the musical mould, or not....

One's own bed is always such a joy! I do sleep in a good deal of 'foreign' beds, so to speak, in hotels situated in the far flung corners of the British Isles as well as other countries and the odd cruise ship. My bed experiences during the QM2 sojourn and at the ECC, we're infact very comfortable, so my poor over swayed upon hip recovered very well, and remarkably quickly. Not having any chorus or principals to watch from the wings, vicariously dancing and singing with them, and thus never sitting down for hours at a time, my hip which always gives me real 'gip' is now 100% recovered, and raring to undulate and oscillate in time to each musical item once more, in the not too distant future.........

I had a conversation with one of my pupils yesterday, with regard to new repertoire for a forthcoming recital. As we chatted, in a not heavy or serious way about the suitability of this and that song, it flashed into my mind that the most tricky part of my job is fitting the song to the person. I have never in my whole teaching career tried to fit the singer to the song, because I have only ever been able to teach the whole person, and not 'the voice'.

This seems like a simple statement, and what one would hope was the ideal way to teach. Quite honestly, I sometimes think my pupils, who are champing at the bit for their new and exciting music, must want to fair burst with frustration and indigence when it takes me almost a whole lesson to find the perfect music, the song that fits like an elegant and bespoke leather glove! Sorry chaps - that's just the way it is!

Sometimes it is our voice itself that does not fit the mould. The young woman with whom I conversed does not fall into one of the classic vocal moulds or 'fach', yet has so much to offer that it becomes a much more exhilarating and unique journey. Indeed she is her own mould, so the process of choice is even more difficult! Give me an original mould any day however, one which was ritually broken post birth, and which proves a bracing challenge to my grey cells! It is my Miss Marple moment, solving the 'song for the singer' puzzle, with flair and deduction, but minus the twinset and pearls.

As a high mezzo I never fitted any mould either. In opera I was either a man in a trouser role, or one of the second line Mozart 'good woman' roles. I mourn continuously that there was never a Gilbert and Sullivan role for me, or a love interest soprano'y role, or a dignified contralto wise woman part. I spent almost my entire singing life as Orlando, Alessandro, Julius Caesar, and other wonderful Handelian soldiers looking heroic in a breastplate, and wielding a sparkly sword. Wonderful, but somewhat lacking in the gorgeous dress department! I did play Cenerentola (Cinderella) in the Rossini opera, but most of the time my dress was more in the style of an unwashed duster! Still that was my operatic lot, and happy I was with it most of the time.

Those of us for whom the accepted mould is a very unsatisfactory fit, must simply plough our own furrow and perform what we perform best.


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