Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Recording songs for sopranos, damn them !

I record a good deal of the pieces for my pupils. It is such an easy way for them to learn, and makes the whole process of learning a more pleasant one. Obviously I try to restrict this for those younger singers who wish to take their singing to another level, they need to learn to be reliant only upon themselves, a piano, and a good musical memory.

Nowadays much of what I record is just too high for me, so I am reduced to playing the melody line and not sing it. Today I was happily recording a vocal setting of what was always known as the Boccherini Serenade, but which is probably attributed to Haydn ! It was in F Major, a good key for me until on looking beyond the first eight bars when I realised there were some delightfully impossible short runs around the higher soprano stratosphere, and quite impossible for an ageing mezzo. The maddening thing is my student who is the same age as moi WILL be able to sing it with relative ease . Grrrrrrr! Well I suppose if I am realistic, P has not worn out her voice since she was 14, then a pro, then a 24/7 teacher.

Accept, accept the days of anything above a top E is now a thing of the past ! One of my male students who was a chorister at St Paul's from the age of 8 told me a number of years ago that when his voice broke and he became a baritone the feeling of loss was very strong, almost like a bereavement. His words were ' I was so sad that I could not soar anymore'. I can relate to that so strongly. The ability to fly upwards and upwards effortlessly is something which when able t do it, one takes so much for granted, but when gone is like a real disability. I can think of no better word.

If I am rational the flip side of the vocal coin is that one knows that it is simply no longer possible, so the stress of performing is no longer an issue, and that is a good thing, believe me.

It amazes me, and I know I have said this before, that students who start in their older years have such fine and fully intact voices, ready for skill acquisition, making progress and learning the new world of classical singing.

It is all ahead of them, and all behind me!



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