I’ve had two singing lessons since my last post, and I am loving where this path is taking my mentor and I!
We’ve worked on two songs since, both focusing on completely different aspects of singing (which is great relating to my goal of versatility). The first is Burn, from Hamilton. It is in incredibly intense and emotional song, and is from a musical so the tone of voice is very particular. With this song, we’ve been working on brightness in my tone to achieve that typical “theatre voice,” which is more challenging than it seems. She has been helping me with my resonance and vowel shapes to help replicate that tone, and we’ve also been trying out ways to seem and look very emotional yet still having lots of control in your voice. It’s a difficult balance to achieve, but that’s why I’m taking lessons! I’m getting better at maintaining that tone throughout the song, even the really intense parts (the bridge, in this case), and then completely turning it down for a soft but powerful ending.
The second song we’ve been working on is Gravity by Sara Bareilles. It’s one of my favourite songs ever, and I was thrilled when she loved the idea of doing it when I brought it up. It requires a lot of breath support, emotion, and is generally just a hard song to sing. A couple of lessons ago, I informed Jessica about my channel and she was really happy that I make videos myself! She is now subscribed, and when I first brought up this song she suggested the idea that we record a cover of this song together and I can post it! We were able to film multiple takes last Sunday, but my voice wasn’t at it’s fullest that day at all because my throat was quite sore. I don’t know if I’ll end up posting any of them, but I was really happy that we were able to dedicate time for filming! She likes that I have goals and direction in my singing. This weekend, I’m aiming to get at least one new cover up – and maybe even an original!
In terms of concepts, we’re always generating them together. She always brings up large concepts to do with improvement in my performance, and we delve into the practical ideas/implementations afterwards. The interesting thing in our dynamic is that for a portion of the time, I do not have to clarify/extract what the concept is from what is being said, as she clearly lays out what the concept actually is and what some vehicles are we can use to work towards fully integrating that concept. Some of these include “adding emotion,” which is a note she gives me a lot, and just “tone” in general. We then talk about the specific technical ways to achieve that, such as changing the shape of my mouth or changing my position. Sometimes she tells me things while I am singing a song like “make sure to take a big breath here!” and I can extrapolate the concept as fluidity in singing by using breath support.
Most of the alternatives discussed during our lessons are action and idea alternatives, as singing is all about improving and polishing up performance for the future. Infrequently, she does offer perception ideas when it comes to talking about how a song can be interpreted and/or how it should be interpreted based on my performance. That then seamlessly leads to alternative actions, such as what I can do in my next performance to match whatever conclusion we came to. There are lots of action and idea alternatives that she offers, and she always runs them by me to make sure they line up with my personal style (which I love). We have made common ground on the fact that there is always room for improvement, and that her offering new or different ways of doing something isn’t to offend the way I was doing it, but just to try out other styles too. She offers singing alternatives like trying a song with a different tone, a different intent in mind, or focusing on a singular aspect such as ‘using vibrato’ or ‘not getting too loud.’ I then try it but continue to ask what other ideas are also plausible, and I love playing around with the songs I get endlessly. Another mentor, based on their philosophy on singing, could have offered alternatives that just fit their ideals. They could lean towards making every song I sing sound similar, or they could even offer to pick the songs I sing themselves. I am very happy with how my mentor and I interact and go through this learning process together!