It's been a few days since my last blog, but I was waiting until after my students' recital yesterday to post.
When I look back at my vocal training and education, I wish that I had more opportunities like this growing up, especially in high school. My voice teachers, for the most part, didn't perform anymore, however, focused mostly on teaching. There is absolutely 100% nothing wrong with this, except for the fact that I never was able to see the technique that they taught first hand put into practice by their own singing, except in grainy vhs videos. This was also way before Youtube and the ability to post videos online (it was before the internet...yes, I'm that old, folks..hahah).
It was such a treat for me to sing on a recital that featured a majority of the singers of my teaching studio yesterday afternoon. There were some on vacation, back at home around the country, resting from the constant nagging and pushing of their voice teacher (haha), and some that had already graduated (a few of my high school students).
With the exception of two or so of these students, most of them had never heard me sing a full aria (some saw me sing recently in a production of The Merry Widow, but the song I sang was more light operetta than big honkin' opera..). I began the concert with Valentin's aria from the opera Faust. I'm not sure what came over me, but I can honestly say this was my finest performance of this aria that I have been singing for over ten years. Coincidence? No. I would say it was a beautiful reward from the Universe for the energy I have given and received from my voice students. Teaching on a daily basis really is like having a several hour-long voice lesson for me! Time stood still..It was an amazing moment for me.
This moment didn't last long because right after I sang, my students began their individual performances. When I watched and listened, it was so magical to see the technique that I have been able to pass along to these students reflected right back to me. The sounds they were able to make were amazingly beautiful. Some of them were not able to do this on the recital they gave last year. I am so proud to be a voice teacher, and when I see myself in my students, my soul is so filled with joy that I can help them experience the same love of singing and making music with the individual instrument they have been blessed with as I feel. An absolutely sublime and surreal moment for me.
One of my students has also became a runner recently and has lost almost thirty pounds in the process. One of my students is number one on his tennis team. I have several other students who are athletes or workout on a consistent basis. Health and wellness are directly proportional to my students' ability to use their whole person as their instrument. It's the only one they've got (their voice), so in order to care for it, he/she MUST be in good shape to maintain the energy necessary not only to sing operatic arias, but to sing full operatic roles which call for a great deal of stamina (this, of course, applies to my musical theater students, as well). Now, of course I'm not asking my students to become muscle bound juice heads, but core work, aerobic circuit weight training, cycling, running, swimming, yoga...whatever your choice can raise the level of vocal production. The core is the absolute root of all singing, and with a weak core, the muscles around the larynx automatically engage while singing which raises the potential of something going wrong vocally either immediately or further down the road in the future, especially when not addressed early on.
I closed the program with singing one of the most beautiful duets written for two male voices in the entire operatic literature from the Pearl Fishers by Bizet (same composer who wrote the opera Carmen). What a great opportunity for me, but also for my student to really open up and make some amazing sounds with me.
Most of these students have made huge strides in their singing in short periods of time, as late as even a few weeks or days prior to this concert. Nothing gives me more joy in my work than to see a particular technique finally "click" in a student's mind, and the look on his/her face is absolutely PRICELESS. All of the blood, sweat, tears, disappointment, frustration, sadness, and all of the other stuff that I've had to deal with in my early career is completely erased when a student experiences the beauty of their true voice for the first time. Not some contrived "version" of what, perhaps, a previous teacher has said was the way, but the way THEIR voice should sound when produced with health and freedom. I love to perform, but equally so, I love to teach. I am so excited to see the musical journeys each of these students will be on in the next few years as some of them move on to college or to graduate school to study voice. Cheers to art, to music, to health, to fitness, and to the glory of music!
Now then, get outside, on that bike, in that gym, on that yoga mat, in that pool, or in those sneaks and GETCHUSOMMADAT!!!!!