This site is a special place for my students, friends and colleagues. I will share thoughts, and I will also share musical examples on this site.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

To sing Wagner or not to sing Wagner....

I am in a quandry. May not mean a bloody thing, but I have had at least seven of my colleagues tell me that I should be singing some Helden rep. Jackson even hints at it for the future. Then again, he and Melanie both swear that the horn is just a lirico-spinto tenor. Then a very good tenor from Europe hears me and swears that it is a true spinto. I am a pretty confused tenor. to say the least.

This all wouldn't bother me if three of my colleagues did/or hadn't made nice careers singing Wagner. When you come up listening to it in your face everyday for several years, well, when they speak, I listen.

But honestly, I love the music of Verdi and Puccini. The Verdi temperment really suits me, and my voice opens up quite well in this repertoire. And what tenor doesn't relish singing Puccini's heroes? But the thing is, the characters are driven by emotion and action while Wager's characters are waaaaaaaay too heady. The Italian roles seem to have more fire and depth to me, but....I am truly drawn to Lohengrin.

Dunno what it is...maybe it is that he is a Knight of the Grail, or that he seems too good to be true. But I love that role. I would kill to sing him. When I sing through "In fernem Land", I feel as if I am totally in my element. Totally.

Lirico-Spinto tenor, Sandor Konya, made a career of Lohengrin and Walther von Stolzing. I wouldn't mind giving that a try, but like Konya, I wann spend most of my time singing Verdi and Puccini.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Reason number 1.12 billion to hate NATS

I grow tired of hearing, "NATS is good for the students."

In what way? To learn early that any Tom, Dick, or Harry can put out a shingle that says "Voice Teacher" and get the chance to tell young people what's what? To learn early that 98% of people teaching Voice have do bloody clue as to what they are listening for, or what they're talking about?

Having a few high notes does not a voice make. A trained horn will be uniform from top to bottom. For people in Alabama, that means that it will sound like one voice from the bottom register to the uppermost extent of the voice.

It also means, that in the midst of the training, you should go from sounding like a child to sounding like an adult with depth and color throughout. If I hear one more senior woman with absolutely NO bottom or core in her voice, and still sounds like she is a sophomore in High School, I will vomit.

Singing is work, and sometimes, especially with big voices, it will sound like work. Our job is to make the audience think it's easy.

One piece of advice I could give any young singer: Really research the teacher that you want to work with. The biggest problem with vocal music in the academic circles is that you definitely don't get your money's worth. Why is that? It's because the vast majority of collegiate teachers should be working at McDonalds or finding a sugar daddy to care for them in their old age. It is a certain waste of money, unless it is Yale, MSM, Julliard, or possibly Indiana.

Check the teacher out first. See if you are compatible, and if you can learn from them Then, when you begin lessons, surrender your voice to them. Listen to them and try what they are offering. Especially when it works when they show you...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

O, how I love NATS...

Not really. It is the best excuse for me to see my mates like Chris Moony at CNU, and a couple of others. Guys that have the same idea about singing, and like to hear the same thing. FREEDOM and RING!!!!!!

Biggest reason that NATS drives me nuts is that I have to sit around with people who know less about a subject...oops, excuse me, they have probably read more books on the subject, but never been able to take the lessons from those books and put them into practical use.

Last year, judging Musical Theatre, Upper Level High School Men, I had to sit with two of the most unknowledgeable people I could possibly be paired with. These guys couldn't get over themselves with this kid out of Northen VA. Asked why I wasn't enamoured with him, and was with a young tenor I now teach, I stated that "Well, I can't judge him until he gets his tounge off his vocal chords and sings. Plus, everything is the same. Pretty boring."

VANATS is a time that I get to see my Mate Chris Mooney, and we gripe about idiots trying to teach voice. There is being nice, but recognizing crap for what it is: CRAP. And it still sinks to the bottom in the long run.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

If you can't sing Mozart, why even try to sing?

Catchy title, eh? I thought it might liven things up a bit...

When I first started this move to tenor, Jackson would anger me when he told me to work on "Dies bildnis ist bezaubernd schon" or "Dalla sua pace." I mean, "pitch a fit" mad. I hated the thought of being stuck or designated as a "Mozart" tenor. Now that I have grown up, my opinion has changed.

Anyone who can't sing Mozart, should hang it up. Honestly. If you can sing Mozart, you can sing ANYTHING. Honestly, where can you find a composer who so perfectly gets the voice? Oh yeah, Rossini. He really knew the voice. So did Verdi and Puccini. Verdi just demanded more declamation and power. More color.

But Mozart is like no other composer I know. Misunderstood, and a real technician. His music brings the voice into focus better than any others. It is like a balm for the voice. Technically, it teaches one how to handle singing in passaggio's better than any other composer, as well as teaches one how to save and to sing musically.

Misunderstood: Like Rossini people today honestly have no idea just what Mozart called for with his tenors. Tamino is not leggiero. The growth this young man undergoes deserves better than a leggiero. He needs a much more heroic sound.

The same with Ottavio. Too often we get to hear these necktie, baby faced tenors who turn him into a real wuss. And the man is stronger than that. He is incredibly conflicted, not knowing just whom to believe.

The best Ottavio I have heard is Thorsten Kerl. He is a German Heldentenor, and his voice just glides through Mozart. Jon Vickers was a master at Handel.

Honestly, if you have a big voice, especially as a male, and can't sing Mozart, you need to hand in your credentials as a singer. You won't really last long...