Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Growing voices, lots of repertoire and how to tackle it.......

A big voice from a little body ! After four weeks off the voice of a pre teen can alter so dramatically that is is all but unrecognisable. Today my small J, who is 10, turned up and sang to me with a 'stonking' new sound, big, warm and sounding like a miniature grown up. I don't mean that she was making a false or contrived sound, she was simply using vocal cords which have made a leap in physical development - much in the same way that that age group seem to suddenly shoot up 2 inches overnight !

A tiny amount of real vibrato is creeping in, and a bigger range is emerging which is so very exciting ! She sang me The Owls by the marvelous Peter Jenkyns with a tone that was even from top to bottom and oh so resonant. It is what every singing teacher waits for !

She suddenly shows signs of joining the pre teen 12 year olds, and no longer is that sweet and delightful baby singer. Overnight, ( or a Christmas holiday !) there is substance and a layer of vocal fat which gives the sound a deeper seam of tone.

I rather shocked my early teen A, by telling her that there were only around 7 lessons in this short term, as I am off to Hong Kong to the festival on Feb 25th. She of the fantastically grown high soprano voice, is going to participate in the Song School this year for the first time, and learning multiple songs for a whole week of singing is a huge shock to the musical system ! She visibly trembled when she realised the short amount of time she had to learn her repertoire, so we wrote a practise timetable to help her with approach to learning, and organisation of said arias and songs. It calms the nervous heart of the young ! (Sometimes it calms the nervous heart of the older singers too !).

A plan is a marvelous thing, I suppose learning music uses the same as academic learning - best tackled in bite sized chunks - and thus not being overwhelmed by so many songs, and thus only 'dabbling' in each of them.

Best piece of advice I ever had was from Middy, bless her.


Choose the song which is least known and don't move on to the next until that one is 75% in the brain and still on copy but close to full memorisation. Then, and only then, add in another, and so on...........It is most usually called 'layered learning' in the music world, but Middy simplified it to ........first things first......and I followed it my whole performing career.


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