Friday, 12 September 2014

Handel, Purcell and small songs for young men !

My second week back has flown by and here we are at the weekend once more ! Every pupil who came this week is keen, ready to learn and excited by repertoire, and that makes such a difference to any teacher. Infact half the battle or more is won !

I started a sweet little chap this week. He is 10, bouncy as a musical ball, and is clearly going to keep me on my toes ! I gave him the 'standard' first song for a child - L'il Liza Jane, that happy and cheerful American folk song which is full of the most OW vowels it is possible to pack I to one song. I work on the principal that if one mouth shape is accurate in the first week of learning I can gauge how quickly a pupil is going to progress, and just how responsive they are.

I have no doubt in my mind that this confident young man will make great strides in a very short time and by Christmas he will be a positive old hand ! How lovely to have another boy, especially as our wonderful young barman in The Mikado has returned for singing lessons with a strong and sliding voice, already showing some sounds of a very baby tenor voice. H still has his treble sound, but the lower and middle range is even now, at 12, strong and even toned.

Some boys voices break over the space of a few days, others just simply slide ever downwards and then stop when it reaches the boy's own comfort zone. I have taught both types of breaking, and the latter is easier on the whole to deal with. The voice which breaks from high treble to bass in a few weeks rarely has a range of more than a fifth for sometime, and that can be very frustrating, and even upsetting for a boy who has been a fine treble, able to soar at will. Our tenor of many years C had a voice which slid beautifully from boy alto to tenor almost imperceptibly, and with relative ease. Other chaps fell into the snap down suddenly category, and some who were very fine choristers found it very hard to adjust.

It is so difficult to find repertoire when the newly born baritone has a range of 5 usable notes, so I tend to fall back on the lovely Britten folksong arrangements and a couple of smaller Handel arias, like Silent Worship and a Purcell standby, Man is for Woman Made. There are also a couple of smaller Schubert Lied which do the job, ie Minnelied or Das Rosenband, indeed anything which will happily transpose to accommodate the individual's range ! Sometimes I even use the Vaccaj exercises, which are beautiful Italian miniatures with melodies which are quite lovely to sing. They sound like nano Italian Antiche arias !

It is a very exciting journey though..........(rub hands with glee)

The vocal leap of faith into a new voice !


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