First lesson at uni

3 03 2011

First singing lesson that is, as classes haven’t gone back yet after the earthquake – which was terrifying and each aftershock leaves me full of adrenaline I can’t use!

However, singing lessons have started out at someone’s house (well mansion, as the lady who is letting us use her house is in fact a Lady with a capital ‘L’). I’m going to be learning from Dame MM who is one of NZ’s leading divas, but also seems to be very gracious and down to earth – which is a good start, as I had quite imagined myself quaking in my boots (strappy sandals) before her. I’m determined to take in everything I can, after all, how often will I get this chance?

I and another new voice student had our first lesson together, and we went back to basics, just trying to control our breath and make the right sound. So my exercises for this week are: (let me bore you, but I need to record them somewhere, and why not here!)

  • Hissing tssssssss out through my teeth slowly and controlled three times, ensuring proper release after each one.
  • All on one note – Ngee-eeh-ah-oh-oo
  • Ee up and Ahh down all on one breath: 1-5,5-1, 1-5, 5-1,1-9,9-1, 1-10 with a turn on the end and back down

Other things to remember: chest up, jaw relaxed and open, sniff in the breath through my nose so that the sound is already focused there. Ngee if I’m having trouble getting my sound right.

If it sounds like gobbledegook, don’t worry, I’m sure even musicians would have trouble understanding my shorthand, but I know what I mean which is most important. 🙂 Thanks to my excellent previous teacher I quickly understood all of what I needed to do, which gave me some confidence.

Next lesson is on Thursday next week. I’m picking up the other girl, as we will be sharing lessons for a while – which is fun, and slightly less stressful 🙂

Now, I should probably go eat something as I was too nervous this morning, plus my dearest one called me from Auckland panicking that he didn’t know where his passport was. And thus ensued the great passport hunt of 2011. Eventually successful 🙂







Welcome 2011

5 01 2011

Back for my first singing lesson of the year today – fortunately both my teacher and I remembered! I am going to miss my singing teacher – she was the one who got me to from the point of quiet mousey singer to someone who is now going to study singing, and in just three years 🙂 Check out her website for info on her teaching, and also upcoming performances.

Today we worked on a new piece: ‘There’s none to soothe’, a British folksong arranged by Benjamin Britten. As always, Britten does beautiful and simple arrangements which make a traditional and repetitive folk song into something very sweet, moving and interesting to listen to.

Here is the song, performed beautifully by Josephine Goddard:

The key for me in this song is keeping it all very connected and legato.

Then we worked a bit on a musical theatre piece, ‘I’m leaving you’ by Ira Gasman. Not very well known, and I can’t find video of someone singing it. The thing for me to think about is being  a bit more ‘speaky’ in my lower register and not being afraid to make my sound  a bit more ‘ugly’. Not ugly as in eww but as in getting a bit more emotion and guts into the sound, so it’s not just a pretty noise. I find it difficult!

In our lesson we talked about someone who was fabulous at bringing emotion, a natural speaking rhythm, and also a beautiful sound together in her performances, so I’m going to leave you with one of her songs. Here’s ‘Cry me a river’ by Barbra Streisand. *LOVE HER* And doesn’t she look gorgeous here??

Moving to Christchurch in February, to start school! Exciting times ahead!


Being emo makes me sing bad.

1 06 2010

Or, should I say, emotions can affect your physical state.

So I haven’t posted for a while, and I haven’t sung (*proper* like) for a bit either.  Big life changes, including the end of an important long term relationship, moving house, questioning my life’s aims and goals have all contributed to a messy couple of months.

But when I say messy it hasn’t been all bad. It’s just been a lot to process. Unfortunately when I process big stuff like that, I find my singing suffers. There’s such a lot of physicality in singing properly, all your muscles have to be free and ready to support you, all up your back, all your abs, including the very lowerest ones (which I shall now refer to as singing from my ovaries, TMI? Yes. HAH!) Now here are the things I feel when going through big emotional stuff: ‘my stomach is in knots’ ‘my chest feels tight’ ‘my shoulders are tense’.

To release those muscles properly so I could sing was actually quite hard. I’m imagining that more experienced singers have better technique than I do, and can work around those things. Also that they learn not to carry so much stress in their bodies! I’ve found EFT immensely helpful. (Disclaimer  – you don’t have to agree with me or use EFT, but I do and it does help me 🙂 )

I’m feeling very positive right now though, and yesterday I listened to Porgi Amor on my ipod, and I felt my abs trying to support me as I sang along in my head. This is a good sign. 🙂 So hopefully updates will be more frequent, and actual singing will take place!

Do you find that emotions affect how well you can work at your creative endeavours? Or any endeavours? How do you work through it?