What I learned in voice class

I just finished 8 weeks of ‘Contemporary Singer 2‘ class at the Sydney Conservatorium of music with Edoardo Santone as our teacher. Final concert was last week! Phew. It went well.

What I learned

  • My past singing didn’t given me experience with using a microphone or singing in a pop style.
  • That’s because most of my singing was to myself at the piano where I sing inward and inside my head (or sing at the back of my throat as another singer teacher told me)
  • Or because I sing in choirs, where we project to the audience
  • Or to friends or small audiences, usually without a microphone, where I feel I have a need to project myself and my voice in order to be heard.
  • And finally, I sort of gravitated to the musical style anyways, because I love them so.
  • The result is that I often sing as if I’m on stage in a broadway musical, where I’m projecting out to an audience, and at a good volume, without much tonal variation and really good enunciation.
  • So, I learned in Contemporary Singer 2, from Edo, how to sing quietly into a microphone, but my mouth right up to the mic, and to experiment with quieter, breathier lines.
  • I also worked to get rid of some of the enunciation of choirs and showtunes, to not hit those consonants so hard, and to try to be breathier and mumblier.
  • Oh, and when I sing loud, to move the mic away from my face a bit…
  • Preparing the two songs in eight weeks for a performance was a good experience. It forced me to memorise one of my songs, and I now know it backwards and frontwards. Because of that, it allowed me to focus on emotions, dynamics, and the shape of the song. I think of all the past recordings that I’ve done of my songs, and the disservice I did to them by not memorizing them – that I gave ‘good’ performances off of my sheet music, without going to the next level.
  • Singing ‘Ordinary People’ by John Legend was a great experience, very different than anything that I’ve sung before, so to try to adopt and adapt the pop-soul sounds of him (or of Jerson Trinidad, from the Voice Australia, the other version of I listened to) stretched my voice and style. Memorising it and learning it well for the performance allowed me to think about the shape of the song, and play around with tones. I even managed to sing some falsetto to close the song, which sounded OK, something I’d never have tried before (and certainly not without a microphone).
  • Working on the two songs pointed out to me other lessons to learn: I really don’t have much facility to do small pop licks, and bend individual notes and phrases so they sound richer, more interesting, and more soulful – as a handful of other students could do; I tend to hit them straight on like choir notes and show tunes, which is fine, but I’d like to be able to stretch.
  • And preparing for a performance, and performing was a good experience. I’ve mainly performed with a piano in front of me, or as part of a choir, so to sing a solo song with a piano accompaniment (by Edo) was very different (and very fun) and even performing my own song on piano felt like a different experience, having prepared so much and in a nice space that was set up properly so I could generally face the audience (often a problem when playing piano) and with the mic set up perfectly. Oh, also the audience was a nice size, maybe 25 people? And it helped my performance to feel how supportive they were.

Stay tuned. I’ll try to post a video or two of our final concert.

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