Getting back to basics


As I have mentioned previously, I haven’t had any singing lessons this year up until very recently, due to my teacher give birth to the most delightful little girl. As well as that, I haven’t been back to see my voice therapist since late January.  And although I have had quite a bit of singing over the last couple of months, I have to confess that I have not kept up my vocal exercises nearly as well as I should. And my voice is definitely showing it. Huskiness after a full-on choir rehearsal. Not being able to vocalise as high as previously. Old habits creeping back. 

I guess singers are athletes and we have to train to keep in shape, only instead of building up big biceps for throwing a javelin or shoulders the width of a small country for swimming we have to exercise our vocal folds and train the muscles needed to give us breath support. 

At my first proper lesson for the year a couple of weeks ago, I left feeling as if I would never sing properly again. I hasten to add that this has nothing whatsoever to do with the skill of the teacher and everything to do with me not keeping vocally in shape. Where was the E flat 6 I had previously popped up to? Why couldn’t I sing above a B without feeling like I had lockjaw? It felt like the more I tried the worse I sounded. And trying not to cry while singing doesn’t help either. So a salutory lesson for me. 

I have now booked in a session with my voice therapist this weekend and hopefully this will put me back on the straight and narrow. 

The other thing that is frustrating me about singing right now is not being able to control my larynx. I understand the concept of how the larynx moves in relation to the pitch but do you think I can move it (or let it move) accordingly? Honestly sometimes I’d like to go all Aliens v Predators on myself and yank the damn thing into the right position. My teacher says my tongue also misbehaves and becomes a law unto itself. I’m riddled with body parts that blow figurative raspberries at me. Oh the indignity of it!

Enough of the whining. Assuming my larynx comes to the party, I will be singing Mahler’s ‘Wer Hat dies Liedlein Erdacht’ this Friday at a fund-raising concert. Practicing this with my teacher the other day, she had me waltzing around the room to assist me in getting the right feel to it and then accessing that feeling while standing still and singing. By golly it works.
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