Thursday, September 20, 2007

work. it's the same.

ok, so it seems kind of trite to say that work, whatever it is, whenever you do it, is more same than different.

i think the biggest difference in the chemistry work/research i've had to do in academic settings and learning to sing work i'm currently doing is mostly in my feelings about it rather than the norms of the process itself.

for those of you who have "suffered" (or enjoyed, though i don't think many people did) chemistry labs - learning to sing is strikingly similar. it didn't really strike me so much until today.

voice teacher will start you out on your process by giving you relatively easy things to do - heuristics for achieving and assimilating into muscle memory the basics. forward focus and "placement," breathing, all that stuff. voice teacher is also able to tell when something works and when it doesn't (and should try to teach you how to tell the same).

Then you go and work up your experiment. And here is where the breakdown occurs. In most chemistry labs, you're required to observe what's going on and submit your findings with your read of the events. In this way, you are encouraged and instructed to develop a sense, a rhetoric, of what it means for an experiment to 'work' and to identify possible areas and explanations for when it 'doesn't.' I find that this doesn't tend to be a part of a lot of voice teaching, sadly. I think it should be.

So as you progress, you move from the more betty crocker-type exercises (wherein you know you add X of this to Y of that at Z temperature), it becomes more complex and your voice teacher becomes more of a collaborator. At this point, you know some things about your voice and mechanism better than your voice teacher might, but the insight and suggestions are far beyond what you might come up with (or it's a time-saving device).

But the clear distinction in all of this is that all of the work and experimentation, even at its more basic level when you're just following directions without having to come up with your own, is done by yourself. Obviously in all things, it would be wonderful to have someone watch over your every move and correct mistakes as they happen or before they happen so as to ensure the speediest and most efficient development, but it just doesn't happen that way, and I'm not even really sure that it should. Which may be in direct disagreement with Kim Wittman's excellent post on this sort of thing (which is, itself, an answer to a NYT article) that has been kicking around in my head for some time. (I'll find the link later.)

Mmmm. Work. It's hard. And dry. But good.

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