Friday, 11 January 2013

Time. The only answer.

I worry sometimes that youngsters who lead lives of the 'instant gratification' style cannot understand the long slow process of development. They, and we, I suppose, live in a world where we buy exactly what we want, when we want it, never waiting longer than the time it takes to free the hole in the wall machine of a tranche of ten pound notes.

In the olden days (ie my childhood) we waited until the piggy bank was full, by careful saving of silver half crowns or cute little threepenny bits. Sometimes it took a year to build up these savings, gently, slowly and with patience, knowing that it was the only way to achieve what we wanted to purchase.

This may seem a world away from singing teaching, but believe me, that planet called 'I want it NOW' filters into my world in a sizeable way. There is nothing one can do except wait and be patient for a voice to develop. End of story. It will grow and mature in its own time. Not one thing we can do ourselves will alter the speed at which our muscles become strong enough to support and free up one's voice.

If it was possible to buy a bottled product or take a pill to help, that would have been patented long ago, and the world would be over run with teenagers able to sing a Wagner role with all the size a depth of a forty year old woman ! If these things are forced, and not allowed to develop totally naturally it may be possible, for a short time only, to up ones vocal game - the problem with that approach is that a voice pushed too early, like a young ballet dancer put on points too soon, will have a very very short shelf life.

I sang with a young woman in my 20's who had such a voice, large in a God given way, loud in decibels and with a womanly sound. She was revered at college by her peers, and seen as somewhat headstrong by her teacher. At the tender age of 27 she was contracted to sing Leonora in Beethoven' massive opera Fidelio, by a most prestigious Opera House. We had the same teacher, who was mightily aghast at this contract, and told me in no uncertain manner that if I took such ideas into my head, I would be out of her door as fast as I could be hurled against a strong wind ! The singer had, by this time moved on from our teacher, presumably to bigger and better things !? I sang in that production with this young woman and during the course of the run her voice inevitably wore out, and was dangerously close to collapse. She initially got great reviews, but as it went on of course reviewers became less kind, and finally were vociferously asking the obvious question as to why she had been allowed to push her potentially lovely voice in such a wicked and dangerous way, and at such a young age.

She told me that she was satisfied with a short and explosive career, and she didn't much care if she could not sing by the time she was 35..........I was not of that persuasion. I think I was very blessed by having two wonderful teachers, Betty Middleton and Marjorie Thomas, who cared most of all about the longevity of my voice, and not about a quick fix and a short vocal life.

There is NOTHING quick about learning to sing for life. It is slow, gentle, unpushed, unstressed and as much to do with the growth of the personality as the growth of the equipment.

Time, time and more time. That is what needs bottling.

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