Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Singing teaching - a combination of feeling and listening

It has been a superb start to the term thus far. Monday's joys have been carried on through Tuesday and Wednesday, and the vocal changes have held true for lots of folk, especially my young sopranos ! I write this with some relief as at the moment many of my youth are erring towards mezzo or lower, and the Inner Sound high soprano is becoming as rare as a talking lizard ! Thankfully young A showed her top C prowess on Monday and today young M reinforced her hold on to the same note, and quite the opposite seems to be happening to her voice as happened to her sister, whose range dropped and dropped like a musical stone and she went from soprano to almost alto in about 3 months !

Changing voices in girls are almost more tricky to handle than the obvious break in a boy's voice. A girl's register changes slowly and almost imperceptibly, but change it does, and woe betide any singing teacher who does not recognise the tiny vibrational alterations in time enough to play with the key of a song to accommodate these small but very important moments in young female singers. The years from 12 - 14 are utterly crucial. Any mishandling of those largely delicate register change areas can mar, at best, and ruin at worst, the future of a keen and talented youngster.

Throughout my long and totally fulfilling teaching career, and subsequently adjudicating, I have realised just how important my gut feeling can be as opposed to only my ears. Very often I find my own vocal cords reacting when a singer of tender years is singing, and doing what I can only describe as a physical manifestation of the pupil in front of me. Almost without exception, it is my own feelings which lead me to take the right path whilst I am teaching.

If my own equipment feels relaxed and free, then all is well, but if I feel tension, tightness or even just the beginnings of a tiny 'frog', I know all is not so well. My vocal cords seem to mystically align with the pupil's equipment and so I really do feel as if I am vicariously singing. Sometimes it is this and only this, which points me towards the next teaching 'move' ?!

I do wonder what will happen when, and if I lose this ability and have only my ears on which to rely ?

A lovely bonus to the week has been giving out of all the certificates for the last round of extremely successful music exams. Each person showing such pleasure and pride in their achievement. Believe me AL student body, it is something of which you should be very proud indeed.


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