Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The Path to the Moon

There is a most beautiful song of which I never tire called 'The Path to the Moon' by Eric Thiman. It is a lovely piece for 12 - 14 year old girls or treble boys voices, and is currently set for Grade 3 Trinity Guildhall exams. I have taught it all my teaching life to the more sensitive and musical souls who really understand the journey of a phrase. Actually, I teach many of these gorgeous little gems as a kind of cathartic exercise for myself. I did not start singing until I was a late 14 year old, so missed performing these delightful and delicate songs ! Now I teach them and vicariously share the joy of these fleeting musical moments.

The Path to the Moon is one of the best. It has such a graceful and flowing melody, combined with a rising final phrase which paints the words so cleverly. The last line of the poem reads .....to carry me over the sea......but Thiman repeats 'carry' three times, each time rising in pitch until we can almost see the seascape from a fairylike flying boat over a moonlit sea. It has an almost Elf feel, one could almost imagine it being a poem translated from the Elvish !

These early 20th century songs for young voices are so perfect for teaching and concert. They are so well written for youthful and fragile voices, and are a whole world away from the belting Rock horrors, which have their place if in suitable keys, but are generally shouted at such decibel levels that any hope of a voice still being intact after a couple of years is as likely as me running a marathon! The inevitable 'old fashioned' nature of these poetic and innocent little jewels is oft scorned in today's loud and brash culture.

The young lady, A, to whom I was teaching the Thiman delight, sang with such delicacy, and with such feeling for the words and the magical picture it paints, it was truly a joy to hear. She has a sweet and slight tone quality as yet, but we should always want quality NOT quantity in young instruments. These small and delicious performances are so much more touching than any amount of decibels.

Young A is a talent for the future, and at least I know that her precious and 'once only' voice will be as healthy in 5 years as it is now, if not healthier!

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