Saturday, April 18, 2015

I wonder as I wobbble*

I am thinking of asking the House of Representatives of the United States of America to pass a bill in the interest of vocal sanity- mine, at any rate- limiting the  number of wobbles per pitch that an opera singer can employ so that pitch itself becomes a moot point, the sound is loud and shrill, and I begin heading for the back door of the hall.

Image result for pictures of the senate building       The Senate

Oh! I forgot! The House doesn't pass bills anymore, does it?

Then maybe I can fly my Gyro copter onto the lawn of the Senate, loaded with requests from other wobble-weary voice teachers, demanding that the members take action. This really should come before the Committee on Terrorism, I think.

Image result for scary faceIt sure scares the Hell out of me.

Where can I get a Gyro copter?

Or I could scale the fence around the
White House and walk right in the front door, which apparently is always left open in a welcoming manner, and go directly to see President Obama. He doesn't have much else on his plate at the moment.

But I'm not sure this is worth going to Federal Prison to accomplish.

What brought this tirade on was my driving home from Winsted listening to the 1:00 p.m opera broadcast. Actually a re-broadcast of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk by Shostakovitch. It's a wonderful opera by a great composer. All the voices were large enough and good enough to sing these demanding roles, but most of them (who shall remain nameless, to protect the guilty) were pushing their voices beyond all reason to sound 1.Louder? 2.More Dramatic 3. Wobblier?

I choose #3.

Image result for dmitri shostakovich    (I feel the same way, Dmitri!)

A wobble is a psychotic sound that needs therapy- Freudian or 'take your pick'. But it is not a natural occurrence in any one's neck- or shouldn't be.

Every voice has a vibrato. This is a perfectly natural event that occurs in singing as the air passes through the vocal cords and the muscles (involuntary for the most part) move to operate the cords to produce the desired pitch.

Each human voice has its own amount of movement during this event. Some voices have almost no vibrato. I'm not talking about the singers who purposely constrain the muscles of the neck to straighten the tone for effect, but of a light voice whose vibrato, like the rest of this type of voice is delicate.

Other voices have other amounts of vibrato. Usually the larger a voice the greater the vibrato, the higher one sings, the more vibrato may naturally occur, etc.

A wobble is a vibrato that has been pushed out of control. It blurs the pitch, pushes the sound into often unattractive places, and basically distorts what is supposed to be going on- which is MUSIC.

Oh yes! That's what we're trying to produce- MUSIC! The music suffers when wobble walks in the door- or into the throat, in this case.

Well...... No House resolution, no Gyro copter, no chat with Barach- What's  voice teacher to do.

Image result for herbert burtis pictures

I think I'm taking too much Prednisone!

(*'I wonder as I wobble' is a chapter heading from my book Sing On! Sing On!,  published by ECSchirmer, Boston, MA)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

COPD- a disease and a voice lesson!

I have been infested this past week with bronchitis, sinusitis, and asthma; a happy trio that is a part of my COPD: Crappy Old Pulmonary-itis. Dammit!

Spending nights half sitting up in my trusty recliner in order to breath, while wheezing, with sounds in my bronchi as if I were gargling Lake Erie at its worst, deep coughs, which make my abdominal muscles feel as though someone were punching me, and gasping from having no time to get a really good inhalation because so much of my air and energy is being expended in an outward trajectory, I have realized all over again the importance of good breathing in singing.


Who said anything about singing?

It proved to me, as I have taught for years, that air is our energy, both for singing and just plain old fashioned living.Without the ability to move air in and out of our bodies efficiently, we are dead, either vocally or in reality.

Guidelines for lady singers:
1. Give up the corseted strapless gowns when you are performing.  I don't mean sing in the nude, though you would probably sell more tickets; just get a flowing gown and leave the high heels in your suitcase.

The corseted dresses pinch your upper body and waistline making it impossible to take a deep breath. Remember the rule for a deep breath is 'The belly button needs to move out when you inhale!'

The high heels throw your butt out in the rear and put your body into a tense situation. Most men don't wear high heels (Maybe some very short tenors) or corsets, although Beniamino Gigli apparently wore one, so for  the most part this doesn't apply to men. I'll have another post for helpful hints for the male variety of singers coming up.

You can see the weird things I think about while gasping for air.

Thanks to my PA, I am on a good 

course of meds and using my nebulizer, which has made all the difference in my health.

General health and healthy singing are all a part of the same way of life.

Do it!

(I am pictured in my Chicago Studio)