Friday, 16 September 2016

Singing with Strength

I have had a few pupil issues with excessive body movement this week. I am sure I have said before but the 'stand and deliver' way of recital or exam performance is the most difficult way of delivering a song. Our bodies want to do what comes naturally but often we try so hard to rein in all those quirks and twitches which are simply born in us, and so the outcome is rigidity rather than relax ! It is a balance between the discipline and the natural which we want.

The trouble with vocal technique is that it needs core stillness and lots of connection through that central core, and every wave of the arms or swivel of the shoulders disrupts that very connection. So somehow we have to find a happy medium - a relaxed and flexible posture which allows the sound to ring and resonate, as well as be strong, together with a disciplined stillness to allow all of that to actually happen ! It is the trickiest of states to achieve.

Yesterday a very talented young lady of 18 had her lesson and is learning the Habanera from Carmen as part of preparation for her Grade 8 exam. She has quite exaggerated body movement which comes with her great natural musicality, and manifests itself in an almost 'dance' kind of way. In some ways it is quite hypnotic and rather lovely, but it definitely interferes with the sound and makes the tone bump and explode - especially since she has a very large voice for her years ! 

We needed to find a way to keep the body flow, but even out the tone, so I decided upon a 'homeopathic' approach to the problem ! Meeting like with like ! I asked her to make definite movement, and walk with a purpose towards a piece of furniture, in other words to channel movement into a positive and natural move. It WORKED ! As soon as the movement was disciplined the sound was as even as flowing double cream ! The swivels and twists stopped, and the forward movement was balanced and normal. It was one of those moments when a teacher has the widest and most relieved smile upon her face and a glow of satisfied warmth ! 

I asked her to walk when she is practising, until her muscles remember that feeling, and she can reproduce the correct body discipline without having to stride around said room ! It will take awhile but she is intelligent and hungry for knowledge and I feel sure the physical penny will drop soon. All this without losing, in many ways enhancing, her totally natural musical feel and interpretive quality.

A most satisfying lesson ! Hmmmmmm..........


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