Saturday, 12 October 2013

Caro mio Ben and don't look at the high notes !

Sometimes one gets a lovely surprise. Today I spent a happy day teaching my Yorkshire friends, some of whom regularly come to the Skye Song School, and most of whom I have known since my teens.

One of these singers is a smart and sophisticated lady who can be a little timid in her approach to performing! B is a light soprano with some very clear and easy top notes ideally suited to Mozart and Handel, as well as the light opera repertoire. She was a much later starter than most of the others, and I have always felt that she has suffered from feeling inadequate and less competent than those who had studied with Middy since the Middle Ages !

The last time I taught her I simply said I felt sure that a great element of her lack of confidence was her fear of 'seeing' the high notes on paper, and making the assumption that she could not sing them! I made her sing without looking, and played around with the keys of the pieces, so after 10 minutes she did not know where she was or whether she was singing soprano or baritone !!

Very often the sight of tricky music on the stave is enough to put a singer off and retreat to a place of defeat long before the reality of the melody has had any chance to prove itself. We should work with our ears as much as our eyes, and not allow the bad black dots intimidate !

She arrived today armed with Caro mio Ben and after a few scales stood and with real confidence, delivered the song strongly, sensitively, and with completely focused tone! Not a waver, nor a 'sorry' or indeed any hint of a vocal apology. I was astonished. Not because I didn't believe that she has the talent, but because at first go she gave us, and sold us the song.

It was one of those moments which one hopes will come along every so often, but always takes one by surprise. I finished playing and put my hands on my knees and said quietly that I had never heard her sing so beautifully. She blushed red and looked demurely surprised, I suspect she was expecting to be criticised rather than praised.

She told me that it was due to our conversation about the fear of looking at the high black dots !

Sometimes I manage to hit a nail on a head and it has the desired effect. However it can only have any effect at all if the recipient is willing and able to WANT to put it into action.

Well done that lady.


Big bad and scary.................


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