29 February, 2008

you can teach an old dog new tricks

Today I had a consultation lesson with a possible new teacher.
Let me explain.
I have had the same 'teacher' since high school. I saw here every week from the age of 15-18.5.
She then handed me off to my undergraduate teacher, with whom I continued to mostly sing art songs, and once in a while, go over an aria or two that I had learned in high school...it was about getting materials ready for juries, not so much doing auditions for young artist programs.
In grad school I had two teachers that were more like coaches. We talked technique, but it was always about the role that I was currently working on. Sometimes about singing open, singing here, there, high, low, etc...but all for the upcoming role.
In year-round-yap I had no teacher.

And so, throughout the years, I have always gone back to my first, high school teacher, to check in. Make sure everything is clear and easy. Send her recordings, and get her feedback.
The wonderful thing about working with her, is that I can always return to that light, easy, free singing.
But what I can't do with her, now, I'm finding, is incorporate the bit of a bigger voice that I have now, with what her ear is used to hearing--which is me at age 18.

And so, I took suggestions.
There are SO many teachers in NY and the surrounding areas.
I listened to some sopranos, I listened to my agent, I read lists and lists of pros and cons on the websites for singers, and I decided to try it out.

And today, I'm really very glad that I did.
What I was expecting- complete talk of overhauling technique, possible harshness, possible talking up of said teacher's technique..and just to wonder whether it would work.
What I got- an honest and insightful interpretation of my singing technique in words.
To put it simply, this teacher said I didn't have very far to go in terms of singing in the 'technique' that she teaches.
She said I was a quick study, she'd be happy to continue working with me, and I felt like I WAS a quick study. And what I changed was so minor, but so simple to do--and yielded a pretty big difference in my voice and the way I felt about my production.

The bottom line is, I'm looking for beauty of tone throughout the range. Who isn't?
This person showed me in 45 very short minutes that it can be easily done. It does not have to sound manipulated, produced, or like any other singer.
I let go a bit, I feel the breath lean out a little bit more in the middle, and I can sing high G's and well beyond that, while feeling like I'm hanging out around a C.

And it's bright and brilliant and all of the GOOD adjectives.
And it feels the same, if not easier.
It makes me laugh.

However, most importantly, this teacher gave praise where praise was due- to my first high school teacher.
Who taught me: (in not so technical terms) smiling eyes, laughing cheeks, relaxed jaw, and speak the words to me. Just say it and make me believe you.
THAT was my technique and IS my technique.

She said that there was nothing wrong. There could only be things that could be done better. I don't have to unlearn anything. I don't have to overhaul--and I believe her, because I felt it and heard it.

The prospects of spending the next 3 weeks before upcomingrole1 studying with a new teacher and a new coach, both of whom I respect, and feel like I'm making great progress for, is really making my day.

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