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Unlearning choral singing

Modifié le : 2019/08/04

Sec­ond singing les­son yes­ter­day. I was cer­tain­ly going with a lot of enthu­si­asm, even if some fears were com­ing up. A first expe­ri­ence often comes close to the epiphany, a rev­e­la­tion that ignites a fire that is often asleep for a long time. But when it comes time to con­tin­ue the first effort, the pit­falls, the prob­lems may call you to order. If it is easy to launch the first pri­ma­ry sounds, it must then be pos­si­ble to be able to go beyond them.

I arrived with the two pieces cho­sen by my teacher (Vin­cent Ranal­lo, a friend I knew for at least five years on the Inter­net. A week ago, it was our first real meet­ing). I had worked the two melodies. We only dis­cussed one after the first half-hour of work on var­i­ous exer­cis­es and explanations.

First obser­va­tion. I have to unlearn the reflex­es of choral singing. Singing is sim­pler than we think, an action that pre­cedes the word in. Singing is done by ceas­ing to inflate the lungs unnec­es­sar­i­ly, by lis­ten­ing to the body, which knows how to breathe (the diaphragm goes down, let­ting the lungs quick­ly fill with air. Observe your breath­ing with your mouth closed. You will real­ize that it is instead the low­er part of your back that opens and that the shoul­der blades lift slight­ly at the air intake. So we sing a lit­tle bit with our back).

I have often heard singing teach­ers come to Ganymede to give us some tech­niques that we have to sing a lit­tle like a sim­ple mind (this includes Down’s syn­drome and also chil­dren). Why ? The rea­son that con­trols us and forces us to per­form well is our worst ene­my. You have to (stu­pid­ly) open your mouth very wide as if you were going to yawn (in short : open wide) and at the same time want to whis­tle. The “cave” thus cre­at­ed at the top of the throat is all it takes, at first, to make his body res­onate (at least that’s what I under­stand at this point in my learn­ing, Vin­cent may come to con­tra­dict me here). As soon as I start singing like that, the sound is beau­ti­ful. And as soon as I want to repeat the feat, I hit a wall. My pride, my joy, but espe­cial­ly the adult con­trol I want to exer­cise over my singing, spoils the sauce.

The many tech­niques learned dur­ing choral singing are as many of these com­pli­cat­ed rea­son­ings on the art of singing. So I think I was singing less well in that sec­ond singing les­son, and it was inevitable. It is nec­es­sary to decon­struct, to return the young man that I was, with­out these pains, these judg­ments, which have sculpt­ed my personality.

The sec­ond part of the course was ded­i­cat­ed to learn­ing an Ital­ian melody. Vin­cent ini­tial­ly trans­lat­ed the piece for me (some­thing on a shoelace, a knot that is actu­al­ly an old metaphor on the chains of love). Then there was the com­men­tary on what Ital­ian is, a nat­u­ral­ly rhyth­mic lan­guage (unlike French). Thus, Ital­ian music must always bounce back, have fun with words. With­out this live­li­ness, the music is flat. Final­ly, we attacked the song itself.

Phew ! I lost my vocab­u­lary, I became dyslex­ic, I ran out of breath (because I was try­ing to get some), I was sud­den­ly all bent over, and I came out of class with a cramp in my left shoul­der. How­ev­er, when I came home, putting the dish­es away, I start­ed singing again, with­out think­ing about it, and the voice had become beau­ti­ful again. I was moved.

My cur­rent feel­ing is a lit­tle sad. I regret that I wait­ed so long before I real­ly learned to sing. My youth is behind me. Of course, it is a fleet­ing and futile feel­ing. In this respect, we would nev­er move for­ward in life, and the path we choose is wise­ly the one I should take (I simplify).

I would like my cho­ris­ter friends at Ganymède to fol­low my exam­ple. Not that they sing bad­ly, on the con­trary, but so that they can learn, like me, not to be afraid to sing any­more, to find a piece of youth that will nev­er have left them.

I look for­ward to my third class.

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