Sisters are by nature generally modest. I have just spent a super morning trying to convince some charming women that indeed they ARE sopranos ! Perhaps because the majority of the sung liturgy is in the middle register range, they rarely have an opportunity to use any notes above C above Middle C. This means that they are completely unused to hearing their own voices singing any big, high and resonant notes in their head register.
The Prioress came this morning full of enthusiasm and verve. We sang scales up to F and F sharp and she practically jumped out her skin with astonishment and a small amount of delight! ' but it must sound awful' she cried, to which I replied it sounds great - you are a Northern lady with a northern accent and make a fantastic 'northern' sound ! There was a glimmer of self belief when we worked very hard on dropping the jaw for the Alleluia scale, 'agh yes' she said modestly, 'I really can hear the difference, it is a much warmer sound', magically I almost detected a miniscule sense of pleasure at her achievement !
The Alleluia scale always does the trick. I use it with pros, semi pros, beginners, and indeed anyone who walks through my door. The magic of the long jaw for the A, and not the squeezed Ah, suddenly transforms a relatively ordinary tone quality into a timbre worthy of La Scala Milan!
Some of the aforesaid humility would be well used transplanted into professional singers who sometimes possess a love of their own voice, too large to accommodate within one ego. It can be a tiny bit frustrating when what I am hearing from a sister, unaware and in denial of her own talent, is very, very good, full of ringing warmth, and sung with such a sense of true commitment. On the whole however, I would much rather have to beat the belief into them that they are very capable, than spend hours with egos the size of Bournemouth, and with those for whom humility is a green eyed alien concept !
Well done the sopranos of Boarbank Hall, you really are very good indeed.