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!



Music in the corners of your mind

3 05 2010

It amazes me how music will tuck itself away in your brain for years, and then pop out to remind you it is there. I have snippets of music going back to primary school in my head, and I often don’t know they are there until something reminds me of them and I realise they’ve been crouched there, waiting all that time.

I was reminded of this when I was (very dedicatedly) doing my homework for next term’s choir concert, by listening to the pieces on Naxos. As I started listening to Faure’s Messe Basse, I realised ‘I know this!’ and not just know it… ‘I’ve sung this!’  But when?? I’m thinking the most likely situation would be either in Junior Choir, or maybe with the Bach Choir. Maybe. The only memories it brings back is of singing it in a church – very helpful considering most of my choral experience has been in churches.

Usually my musical memory gets quite specific with feelings and memories that it brings up when I hear a tune. In fact, there are some songs that I’ve had trouble re-listening to, because they remind me of bad times. It’s only in the past year or so that I’ve been able to listen to that song ‘More than Words’ by Extreme, because it was constantly playing when we moved to Wellington and I had to start a new intermediate school midway through the year. *shudder* It used to give me this horrible stomach twisting feeling whenever I heard it. Now I can listen to it and I’m fine. Hurrah for eventually working through 18 year old issues !

The reverse of this situation is when you remember a piece of music but have no idea what it is or where you heard it first. Incredibly annoying. And google has no search function (that I know of) that lets me hum into my laptop so it can go searching for me! But then, on Bones last night, Sweets said he had an Iphone app that let him hum music into it and it would identify the song!! Would it work for classical music?! I MUST HAVE THIS APP!!

Any music that gets stuck in your brain from years ago? Or provokes a severe reaction?

Singing in tune is good

19 01 2010

First singing practice of ‘Curtains’ has now been done, and the music seems like it’s going to be a lot of fun – really big Broadway show tunes with catchy melodies and harmonies to round everything up nicely at the end! The challenge will be to sing it while dancing! I’m looking forward to getting better at that 🙂

I have a new unaccompanied piece to learn too, ‘The Singer’ by Michael Head. It’s very pretty but, as it’s unaccompanied, requires me to really concentrate on my tuning, and it has some tricky chromatic runs.  Simple lyrics, and a lovely melody; the idea is to keep it sounding unstudied and beautiful (it’s a bit like ‘Heavenly Grass’ in that way) while at the same time not going horribly off key and warbling like an idiot. Mind you, that should probably always be a goal…

Here’s the lyrics for you:

I met a singer on the hill,
He wore a tattered cloak;
His cap was torn,
His shoes were worn,
And dreamily he spoke.

A wrinkled face, a cheery smile,
And a nobby stick had he;

His eyes were grey and far away
And changeful as the sea,
And changeful as the sea.

I offered him a piece of gold
And hoped that he would stay.
No word he spoke,
But shook his head
And smiled and went his way.

I watched the singer down the hill,
My eyes went following after,
I thought I heard a fairy flute
And the sound of fairy laughter,
I thought I heard a fairy flute
And the sound of fairy laughter.

There’s some ‘fa la la la’s in there too.

Can I find you a linky for it? I bet I can. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pIOK7aEJVw

There you go. This version sung by a girl called Eira for a recital. I think she does a lovely job.

New songs for a new year

12 01 2010

Remember one of my wishes a couple of posts back? To do more singing in duets/trios? Well I walked into my lesson this week and the first thing I did was sing a duet with another student! WHEE! We may get to perform it later this year together.

The song is  ‘che soave zeffiretto’ from the Marriage of Figaro (Mozart! Yay! On a related note, how much am I looking forward to the Marriage of Figaro that the NBR are putting on? Lots, that’s how much.)

Here is Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Ileana Cotrubas singing it. I’m singing the countess part which Kiri sings here.

It’s very sweet and a lovely song to sing with someone else.

I also got another new Mozart song to learn, ‘S’altro che lagrime’. It is beautiful and seems quite easy, right up to the end. Here is American soprano Barbara Bonney singing it beautifully. Listen for the high A’s right at the end. Two long ones in a row. Ack.

Neat trick to work on getting the high notes without tensing up is to flop forwards, with bent knees and relaxed arms and head down around your knees.  It seems to trick all the usual muscles which attempt to get in the way (they think they’re helping, it’s very sweet) to relax. Then I can straighten up and make the same noise. Hopefully. Because singing all flopped over doesn’t look great in performance.

Rage against the machine

23 09 2009

Not really… but I did realise today that I need an angry song. All my songs are so nice… and it’s because my voice quality lends itself to sweet songs, pensive songs, chirpy and cute songs. Not so much the rage!

But everybody needs a ragey song, for those days when things aren’t going quite right. So my new song to sing in anger is:

Show Me! from My Fair Lady.

It’s full of lovely spitty consonants. While it isn’t the most hate fuelled tirade ever written, it’s certainly much more satisfying to turn away from someone who has just pissed you off and mutter “Words, words, words, I’m so sick of words!” than it is to think “oooh I’m so ANGRY! I’ll show you! I love you through time and eternity!

Here, have a listen/watch:

So, a satisfying singing lesson after a kind of irritating day at work.

Brain: KIND of?? KIND OF irritating!??! How about full blown-f*ck off-kill me now-HORRIFYING?

Me: Uh…yeah ok, but we won’t say that in front of the nice blog readers. How about we sing a song instead?!

Brain: Words, words, WORDS, I’m so SICK of WORDS!!

Me: You see? We feel better already.

Brain: *mutter mutter*