Amazing ! Today when I stepped outside for the shuttle bus to work it was a cool, breezy and wonderful 14 degrees ! The populous around me were all trussed up like Peking Ducks in padded jackets, scarves and gloves. I was a freak in my own hotel ! I could wear a dress and cardigan and feel completely normal - so normal that I fear my South African pupil EL would have shivered and said it was freezing ! I loved it, and thought to myself as I ambled along ......I could work here if this was the normal weather......don't worry Paradise pupils, it seems to me that this is a once or twice a winter occurrence !
A happy Ann, cool and comfortable - take a glance at the other pedestrians though !
I had another very good teaching session today beginning with a lovely but quiet and shy 15 year old girl, A. She was clearly a musician, one can see all the telltale signs of a pianist or violinist in their approach to the music. A sang with total accuracy, every detail of rhythm and pitch was perfect yet something was missing. That something is distilled within the simple act of being unable to actually face the audience and take a performance to them. She was quite delightful but could not take a physical or metaphorical step towards her listener. Having a piano or violin between you and the listener make communication a completely different thing. She told me she uses body movement when she plays, but she freezes when singing. I smiled and told her how normal that was and how I spent much of my teaching making students face the fear (...and do it anyway...as the famous book says!), and if she dared to do it she would realise it is a joyful thing to do and not the scary thing she was 150% sure it would be ! I made her move, point her finger, sway.....all those freeing up tricks I know, and we managed to achieve another 20% jump forward. I see her again at the end of my visit, and she said to me - ' can we try and see if I can make the song a 'play' please' - I knew what she meant, and so you see the spirit and will is there ! Watch this space !
Another 8 year old came in looking calm and prepared for anything, and tied up in a coat fit for Alaska in November ! I turned off the air conditioning but was told she must keep on her coat as her father was afraid she would become ill in the cold !! What a gorgeous child C is. With her lovely voice she charmed me totally whilst showing great concentration to the task at hand. Her quickness at picking up the vowel shapes was amazing and she managed the full hour with the work ethic of a 50 year old academic ! She also sang me an innocent and note perfect Caro Mio Ben, - it is standard rep for exams so a very popular choice, as it is with me too ! I showed her a little of S singing it, and said she was allowed to move a little as she sang, which rather surprised her small person, but she then 'let go' just a little and so the music began to have some real life. The song is beyond her life understanding but like K she can sing and grow in the melody. A most rewarding lesson !
Another adult arrived after her work and was keen to start packing in all she could glean from me ! R is a soprano, but not a high soprano, but a big warm voiced singer. As with any pupil, big voices are so much harder to control and we worked very hard at controlling the vowels - the native Chinese speakers seem to have most difficulty with the OO vowel - at least in Hong Kong - perhaps the vast country of mainland China is different - I don't know, so I spent a good 10 minutes on getting R to pull the lips very far forward so the tone is totally focused at the front. She could do it well, but only after much experiment and a lot of mirror work ! She had a tricky piece of Purcell which will be for an exam late in the year, so lots of time for her to put it all into action. This Purcell piece was full of OO words so was a wonderful exercise for her to practise this tricky technique. Fortunately most of the students I am teaching are full of fun and we laugh a lot when things are difficult, and when they pull faces which make them guffaw ! I have told them it will 'not happen overnight!!' and indeed it will not.
Time, time, time !
Huge and beautiful Azaeleas in full and vibrant bloom, and in February !
Work out for yourself what one CANNOT do in this area ! Clearly one thing has been removed and is now permitted - wonder what that is ?