I had the privilege of teaching young lady from far away yesterday. I had previously masterclassed her and also adjudicated her earlier this year. What a beautifully responsive girl she was. A 20 minute masterclass, or hearing a polished and finished piece is nothing like actually teaching a voice and working it like a ball of plasticine ! Sometimes the finest voices are 'stuck' and not very malleable. Perhaps they don't understand ones explanation, or perhaps they are simply unable to shift their technique up a level.
This young lady, with a bright and shiny high soprano tone was brilliant. She is still just 14, but responded in a very finely controlled way for more than an hour. It is truly wonderful when both the teacher and student can hear those changes in a voice which are small but hugely significant. When a voice is large for the age of the 'owner' it is even more vital that it is used safely and with care, whilst being gently nurtured.
This young lady has been beautifully taught, and her teacher is doing a grand job indeed. She simply needs to up the level of her work and her ability to listen to herself ! With a large voice, which is rather like a St Bernard puppy, one has to try and provide some muscular infrastructure to keep it supported ! At 14 she is too young to use adult abdominal wall support and low breathing, but one can sow the seed and make her realise that her voice is underpinned by low muscles and not high shoulder muscles !
She responded so well to that technical work, I was thrilled with the subtle but definite changes in her first lesson - well done indeed.
We pursued some repertoire which I had suggested a few months ago and she sang a strong - if rather serious - 'Where'ere You Walk' by Handel. It took me a little persuasion and some excited gushing to allow her to see that it is a love song, and the singer is saying miraculous things about his distant love !
In modern parlance, which is always the best route to understanding in teens, it roughly translates as.....
WHERE'ERE YOU WALK - the AL in Paradise version !
Where ever you take a step, cool breezes will stop you from turning red in the sun !
Where'ere you walk cool gales shall fan the glade
Where ever you sit, a gorgeous beach umbrella magically appears !
Trees you sit shall crowd into a shade
When you walk away from the beach, sunflowers shoot up around you !
Where'ere you tread the blushing flowers shall rise
Everything grows bigger and brighter and more beautiful !
And all things flourish
When you take off your sunglasses and turn your eyes to look at the sunny world.......
Where'ere you turn your eyes
I suppose it's a bit corny, but suddenly they understand the magnitude of the guy's statements, and just what miracles happen inside him when he sees the lovely creature.