singing and the technique

by Kate on December 22, 2011

I have been having some lessons with Pedro de Alcantara online. Firstly, it was amazing to see how teaching online can work. So much is communicated without words and even more so over Skype. In some ways Pedro not being able to hear me is helpful because my focus becomes entirely on playing with the exercise he gives me and exploring it for myself and not trying to be “right” or make him “like” the sound I am making. What freedom. Within no time, I am sticking my head in the piano and playing with the sound of my voice and the harmonics it encourages from the strings. After only two lessons I now find myself improvising with more joy and freedom than I have in the past 20 years of my career.

I am also more aware that my voice is not just from this place in my throat but absolutely the whole of me from the ground up and that all these years when I have been trying to push out my sound, I could actually have focused on containing it, nurturing it from within and through this, more resonance, depth and flexibility come so easily…

Hard to explain. I guess Pedro has helped me marry up some ideas I had started to think about – and that a recent workshop with Tommy Thompson also clarified. How easy it is to separate teaching from living and living from singing, singing from eating etc. etc. When infact there really is no end and no beginning. The contact we make with the strings, the pupil and in the case of the voice, the vocal folds is just a continuation of a life already expressing itself. And in which case, our intention must not be to create an impression or change something, because the contact itself will resonate with wherever/whatever we already are at that moment and be heard and reflected by the audience/pupil/world. And so it goes on and all we need do is listen and improvise because if there is no end, there is no “right” and the fear is just resistance to what is already flowing.

As singers, we so often think that taking the breath and that first note is so important but in doing that we sabotage because the note is just an invitation to the world to reflect, to harmonise or not and we listen and we know where to go next….

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