Friday, 26 August 2016

Foxgloves by Michael Head and Farewell to North Yorkshire

I had a full morning and lunchtime teaching session today and very rewarding it was too ! I had a lady who was, in all honesty, absolutely terrified ! If I had been a grand inquisitor from the Spanish Inquisition wielding a pair of thumb screws she couldn't have been more petrified ! J, ( not Julia you understand....) had not been for any sort of lesson or masterclass at all over the years I have been teaching my old Yorkshire compatriots, and so for her to come today was a big deal. I have heard her within Renaissance and I knew she was well in tune and reliable with her parts, but other than that I didn't know what she could do. After a tentative start she began to open up and let her voice 'out' of its vocal prison and how lovely it was. All the others bar none either had enough years with Middy, or like myself had many years and are now very technically solid, so the overall sound of the group is so unified and resonant. J, is clearly a most musical lady and had simply merged her tone and copied the sound by Middleton osmosis, so her ear was already tuned in. What a brave lady however - to come and feel very exposed and vulnerable and have her lesson in front of the old hands, without having had that background. I take my hat off to her, and boy did she work and make it happen. Muscles take a while to remember what to do by second nature, and she has a path to walk, but the first steps have been taken and I think and hope that she will build on her time today. All the others are so supportive, and want her to fulfil her potential. It was a lovely moment.

C, who has had a couple of years out due to illness, was back in top fighting form today, and given the battering her abdominal muscles have taken, her support and lower abdominal wall are bouncing back and beginning to be flexible once again. Last time I saw her she was not able to take the breath down low, and fill her 'balloon', the surgery had scuppered that until the healing was complete - and she is a great example of the power of healing. As long as care is taken, time is allowed and we work gently at nudging the parts of the body so in shock from 'injury', the ability to move the muscles to inhale and sustain will return. Her voice was as glorious as ever, and I love teaching her strong and liquid dark mezzo tone. Twenty steps forward !

B came as worked very hard, and I pushed and pushed her to go further, to touch the outer edge of what she believes ( and sometimes doesn't believe!) is the full capacity of her delicious soprano voice. There is so much more to come, and she can go so much further - I know. The most successful way to convey this to her seems always to be to make her actually perform, even though it is just to her friends and peers. She is so very musical, and cares very much about the text that if she, almost accidentally, gets swept up in the emotion of the song, waves of lovely tone pours out. Keep at it B !

K brought the gorgeous Head song 'Foxgloves'. She sang it beautifully the first time around with a real sense of the melodic line and poem, yet I always feel that somehow I need to give her permission to slow it all down and wallow a bit ! She is clearly a highly efficient woman in her job and life, and her singing has that efficiency and brisk 'get on with it' feel. Today, the difference when she filled every vowel from the beginning to the end, was so marked and beautiful it brought tears to the eyes. All she needed was that precious permission and she soared, and took her listeners with her. The tone broadens, loses the breathiness and is totally satisfying to listener and singer. 

As ever to complete the occasion we have to go out for a good meal and companionable conversation - just like at home, the food is both the music and song for the soul, and the magnificent nosh for the inner man ! I took photos because the Whitby fish and chips bordered upon being white whale and chips, so large were the portions ! Sadly I had a delicious pork and apple burger with green vegetables .......can you see my halo!

It is such an immense pleasure and privilege to offer some advice, technical tips and interpretation ideas to my oldest friends. Thanks girls, and you have all retained much more voice than yours truly !

Clare and Julie

Karen and Barbara

Julia and Moby Dick




1 comment:

  1. How lovely to see everyone. I miss Yorkshire fish n chips nearly as much as singing with you all. D xx Perth WA.