When I was a kid in Churdan, Iowa, I used to get on my bike and ride out to the cemetery on the east side of town. It was a quiet place to roam and think about things that seemed elusive at other times. Time seemed to stop while I walked or hung out under […]
Nobody sounds exactly the same at 75 as they did at 25. This is not bad, it just is. I heard Leontyne Price in a recital around 1982 where she sounded quite rough. I heard her again in 1987, and it was wonderful. Retiring from opera in the early 1980s was the right step for […]
Please note that none of these quotations from singing masters of the past indicate a pervasively serious expression, a tall oval mouth opening, protruding lips, or a long, sad face. Most of the mentions of facial expression that I have found instructed something along the lines of the lighter emotions, and the outliers were the […]
Is it emotion? If so, what about a singer’s performance evokes emotion? Can it be feats of strength? Sensitivity? Fascinating ebb and flow of the lyric? Are exciting singers “loud”? Can soft singing be exciting? Can a voice be beautiful but not exciting? Exciting but ugly?
This year I have four high school seniors auditioning for college programs in performing arts. Three of them are auditioning as vocal performance majors. At least one school for each student is requiring an English song and songs in two other languages. One in particular says that Spanish is not allowed. This year none of […]
If one is filled with the spirit of the song, is sincere and earnest, and is filled with a desire to express what is beautiful and good he will not sing badly even if his voice be ordinary. – D. A. Clippinger in The Head Voice and Other Problems
Let’s say that you are a young singer in a good band. You start working, playing nightclubs, BBQ joints, any place that will pay you. You cover lots of songs and lots of bands. You come for voice lessons and you start to describe your challenges. “When I sing Eleanor Rigby, I have trouble getting […]
B C D F G H J K L M N P S T V Z These are the suspects! When a passage has the consonants removed, the singer usually finds his way from note to note more easily. Practicing songs as vowel-phrases can be very helpful for finding the musical flow.
I try to teach a style-agnostic approach to vocal function in general. Some of my students come for technical instruction only, and others come for that in combination with help with repertoire. In either case, I want to work with them on songs at least some of the time, because the bridge between acquiring better […]
Why study singing? Why create? Why perform? Why stand up for what you believe? Am I not just another tiny redundancy in a mob of billions of people? Here is the answer: This uniqueness and singleness which distinguishes each individual and gives a meaning to his existence has a bearing on creative work as much […]
I often tell a student “If you don’t like this song, tell me. There are a few hundred other songs that would be perfectly fine to sing instead.” In singing, like other performing arts, we have the opportunity to try on other characters and enter other worlds. If we are going to explore something new, […]
In celebration of World Voice Day, I would like to offer some thoughts on what “voice” can mean – in our selves, in our interactions, and in our worlds. Our Selves Those of us who want to learn to sing and speak with ease and power must discern when we are moving toward greater vocal […]