The post you are about to read has been sitting among my drafts forever. I did feel the urge to publish it more than once, but the sane part of me called Common Sense always stopped me from doing so.
I hate when amateurs speculate about something that requires professionalism. And now, by publishing this post, I am becoming one of them...
I sincerely hope that the contents of this post will stay just between myself and you, my loyal and the most unjudgemental readers and that no professional musician will see it. This is a post of a passionate amateur with an urge to share her humble discoveries in music making.
As usual, the fine print first : Please know that I am very well aware of what I am and have no ambitions whatsoever of becoming what I am not meant to be.
That said, to my point.
Singing has always been my daily routine.
My stage is every room in the house, including the kitchen and the shower. My stage is my own car and sometimes my office after hours. My stage is the park when I am by myself or with my son. And my only listener and biggest fan is my son Troy. Well, every once in a while my mom too.
Like every child, Troy likes his mom’s voice. It does not mean that my voice is good, even though I think I do have a pleasant voice and a good ear for music. This said, I have to tell you that my "pleasant" voice was good for nothing while, like most amateurs, I was struggling with breath control and running out of that air way too soon.
Not original, I know.
This summer I have increased my gym workouts to 2.5 hours per week. My workout routine as well as long stretches that I do require a lot of deep thorough breathing.
Little did I know that while I was doing all that breathing in the gym, breathing stopped being an issue on the vocal front!
Somehow I learned to use that air flow wisely, without spending too much of it right away and then be left completely out of breath before I could afford it.
That means easier singing, my friends. Less tension – more music. More music – more character.
I am positive that the quality of singing is directly related to understanding of the character, his/her motives and actions.
Singing can be a very abstract thing with a potential of becoming more illustrative, if done the right way. For Troy it is extremely important to envision the character standing behind this or that aria. That’s how he learns about the music and the story.
Because I want my music to mean something for Troy, before I sing I try to put myself in the character’s shoes and live at least a couple of minutes with the life of that character and experience joy, excitement and anger that the character is experiencing in the opera.
Yeah, I know, I am not being original here either. Joyce DiDonato has written beautiful entries about it in her blog. The only reason why I am writing about it, is that these discoveries on my way to music making make me so excited.
With the amateur vocal skills that I have, I should be naturally afraid of high notes. What pulls me through is not thinking about them. Please do not assume that I am trying to diminish the importance of technique – no way!
However, in one of his interviews Juan Diego Florez said something like “thinking about jumping will never take you through the jump”.
On the other hand, thinking about the motives to jump actually might. Therefore, to be able to do those notes, I force myself to re-focus and start thinking the character, rather than the notes. And it works all right, once I get to keep my mind off the notes and consequently, off the fear.
Play the music, not the instrument, someone once said.
Sing the character, not the notes?