The last week of my term has finished - I sit here, tired and relatively voiceless but happy at a good term with lots of exciting things happening in small and large voices alike !
One of my last pupils of the week was the lovely M, about whom I have written on a number of occasions. She is now very close to giving birth to baby number 3 which is due in four weeks time. She played Tessa in our Gondoliers, and fed Baby 1 in the wings when she played Lady Angela in Patience, and has always been one of the most calm and stabilising singers in Inner Sound.
The reason I have chosen to write about her is the almost incredible and random goings on with her voice when she is pregnant ! After seeing her through three of these confinements, during which time she has had lessons almost until the moment of truth, I am totally baffled as to what happens with her voice each time.
Baby 1 sent her voice falling like a stone into the realms of a low mezzo/ contralto with a rich chocolate timbre, but her breathing was tricky and less efficient than normal. Baby 2 seemed to allow her voice to go almost anywhere, she could sing the soprano line and the alto line, each register as strong and vibrant as the other, and at this moment now Baby 3 has sent her vocal cords into a stratosphere normally owned by high sopranos singing Wagner ! Her breathing is effortless, and she laughs when, at the end of a scale she has enough breath to sing it all again !
Somebody somewhere should write a thesis on the effects of pregnancy on the classical singing voice, and definitely not by me, as I have absolutely NO idea why these changes and random differences happen. Of course to write this thesis one would have to be a singing teacher of a certain calibre who happened to have a nestful of pregnant ladies who had been taught for some years pre babies, so said teacher knew their vocal idiocyncrasies inside out, and who were going to carry on with lessons after the birth.
Not a lot to ask then ! I am very lucky with the delightful M, she is so laid back, singing moments before the baby is likely to appear is her normal. No hysteria, no worries, no hypochondria of any description ! She even has walked the mile and a half beach path from home to here for her last few lessons.......the song she was working on today was Maria's Wiegenlied (Mary's Cradle Song) by Max Reger, and a more suitable song for a soft and gentle pregnant lady I cannot imagine !
Relaxed and singing beautifully, but not yet please !
She is such a joyous student, and I almost hope there is a Baby 4, because I might then be able to teach my first female Baritone.
Hormones, hormones and more hormones..........