Monday, April 9, 2007

sunny blatimore!

Mmmm so I spent a really long day today in Baltimore, which is just a quick train ride away (under an hour, all told).

I met with financial aid, admissions (switching from non-degree to degree program), and then lessons with 2 prospective teachers, first a woman and then a man.

Both were a treat. I think I really like a particular kind of humor -- a bit of wide-eyed, polite ribaldry where squeamishness is left at the door. Ms. Teacher, in a particular impassioned speech as to what the grounding principle of the stage must be (knowing how to sing), "it doesn't matter that I've just had diarrhea in the dressing room and now my heart is pounding a mile a minute and I'm just so nervous out here on the stage -- what matters is that once I'm there, I know what to do."

She was very good and has a very clear and well-thought out pedagogical style. After chatting (for quite some time...tangents, ahoy!) we finally started warming up, and here, I think, there was a very big difference between her and all my other teachers. It was predicated on simply getting the vocal cords lubricated, and so it wasn't strictly about "building the voice" which is very similar to warming up superficially, but the ultimate goal is different. Warm ups, according to Ms. Teacher, who learnt it from her teacher, should be no less than 10 minutes but no more than 20. Extremes should be eschewed and simple, gentle, warm-ups should be the rule.

So, in keeping, we did lip trills, starting at the B-flat at the top of the staff descending until A-flats or Gs. Then back to the B-flat and then upwards to E-flat or so. Then we did Maa-maaa on five note descending scales with similar ranges, and then finally a sustained note followed by a rapid upward five not scale on O. This we took up to F-sharp, as it's, according to Ms. Teacher, the best exercise to go beyond the passagio.

Then we sang briefly and I think she's very good and precise about noting what works and what does not work with me. So that's all very good and sound.

Then was my lesson with Mr. Older Teacher (in contrast to Mr. Younger Teacher, whom I'll meet on Wednesday). Mr. OT is, I think, though not much older than Ms. Teacher, of a different generation. While Ms. T (and most likely Mr. YT) are more explicitly likely to speak about technique, particularly technique as divorced from expression. Mr. OT, who had very nice things to say about my singing once I finished clocking through some very florid baroque pieces, said that we would begin at the beginning if I were to join his (small) studio, a prospect that I eagerly seconded.

What I liked was that technique wasn't divorced from expression. We were to work on arie antiche and also very much address the issue of pronouncing it as a dental language, bringing the consonants forward. This was the same for the German that I sang for him. (We spent quite a few minutes figuring out just how to get my to send the final unvoiced consonant of "platz" in a way that would carry!)

The combined allure of 1) having someone with so much experience in performance and aware of a treasure trove of repertoire (and repertoire for *my* voice) and 2) the very detailed focus, though in a different way from the other technophiles and 3) the small studio, lending itself to perhaps more individual attention.

My only hesitation in going along with it right now is that I worry that perhaps I might not get enough technique to iron out my issues. Hmmm. Not sure. Will have to think about it. Mr. OT even invited me to a repertoire class and even bring something to sing (!!!!).

Anyway, it was a very productive day all around. And I can think of nothing better than capping it off with some Anna Russell!

No comments: