September 3, 2014

The Kingdom of Singing

You must be like a kid to enter the kingdom of singing.  

Now that's a highfalutin' statement! Think I am exaggerating? I am not. It's just my observation after having taught for a long while now. What have I noticed? Students who do really well from the get-go have two things going for them: 1) they know how to play, and have 2) excellent imitative abilities. In other words: they have great ears. Give them a tiny bit of demonstration and they will run with it, their fine-tuned proprioception enabling them to both feel as well hear the sounds they are making. Give them a new tool to play with and they will tell you exactly what is happening both auditorially and physically. This is heaven for the skilled voice teacher because a great deal can be accomplished in a short time. It also makes the process simple.

Oh, I know what some of you are thinking. 

"It's easy to work with someone like that. However, the real teacher is someone who can take a person with average ability and make something out of them." 

My answer? That's great advertisement. 

The truth is that cream really does rise to the top, notwithstanding the hilarious observation made by my teacher that poop also floats on occasion. Yes, you can train a person's listening ability over time, but you can't magically change it into something it isn't. Singing depends on listening ability, which involves active participation on the part of both teacher and student, and a hell of a lot more than the acquisition of stacks of facts. 

My point here is that muscles follow the ear, rather than the reverse. Even those who pride themselves on changing the "function" of the muscles within the larynx are—in the end—seeking to change the student's listening ability. It's an audio-vocal loop after all, one that is self-sustaining. 

You can't get into the kingdom of singing through analysis, that is, with a closed face and dead eyes—a sure sign that the ear is turned off.  Rather, you get there through joy. 

Photo Credit: Bosco Sacro, Monteluco di Spoleto, Italy. 

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