Dame Janet Baker, the perfect technician
When one reaches the point where vocal technique has been learnt, successfully used and brought the singer to the stage where they are very competent and can perform with style and panache, then where do we go ?
If we are not pursuing the professional life, and are really singing for the love of the music, is there a case for pushing oneself to the next level? Do we climb the technical mountain, ever nearer to the top, pushing ourselves to the limit ?
As a young aspirant professional the answer is dead simple - of course we do, it's a no brainer is it not. But, if we are over a 'certain' age, have no desire whatsoever for the transient and mostly non lucrative career in singing, is there a point. Well my ladies of that age most definitely think there is a monumental point! I find myself pushing them harder and harder, moving from basic technique to advanced amateur technique, and then teaching them the sort of more individual and voice appropriate teaching as if they were fillies of 21 all set for the next round of auditions for Glyndebourne !
Only this evening my gold dust alto M asked to be challenged more, to hop on the metaphorical elevator, and be asked to deliver even more! She who has gone from simple beginnings to the post Grade 8 Advanced Recital Certificate wants MORE! So we began the next climb, and I explained, which she already knew of course, that it becomes much more of a partnership and team work. I either describe what I want, or I demonstrate, then she 'plays' with the sound and finds her own way to achieve it, with the odd guiding word now and again.
The strength of a really good singer, technically and musically, is to know one's own instrument, to be so voice and body aware that we can find our own way to the end product. I become more of a tour guide of possibilities, rather than a law giver!
I never for a moment thought I would find myself teaching in this way outside of conservetoire or University, yet here I am ! What a great place to be. What a testament to the dedication and hard work of my pupils.
The thing is, M the alto is not alone, some of my other 'ancients' (their name NOT mine!), are ready and willing to be bull dozed to ever higher achievements !
Woo Hoo !!!