With the new year has come much change, including the building of a music studio at the house and more music students, therefore a need and desire to study more music myself. For your interest, and I hope it's somewhat interesting, I thought I'd share with you what I'm studying and the progress I'm making. That's kind of what blogs are for, right?
Recently I amended my library by seeking out reading requirements at Berklee College of Music. They have a handy list of courses and the reserves here. It's a good start when researching resources. I focused on their voice classes. Then, of course, I found most of the books on Amazon for cheap. This may or may not be a sign that Berklee students are ditching their texts upon graduating.
Here's the grocery list:
Sight Singing: Pitch, Interval, Rhythm, Samuel Adler, c. 1979, W.W. Norton & Co.
Freeing the Natural Voice, Kristin Linklater, c. 1976, Drama Book Specialists
Vaccai: Practical Method Italian Singing for Soprano or Tenor, Nicola Vaccai, c. 1894, 1975, Schirmer
On Singing Onstage, David Craig, c. 2000, Applause Theatre
Scat! Vocal Improvisation Techniques, Bob Stoloff, c. 1998, Music Sales America
My boyfriend, Dustin, asked me what my goal is in studying these books - a great question. I want to teach better, which means understanding the voice as an instrument more intimately, and to have more tools in my repertoire of teaching. I'm looking for new and interesting vocal exercises. I'm also interested in performance technique as it's taught to new actors and singers. Additionally, I want to brush up my own music theory since I know it's value to all singers regardless of style or level.
I learned singing through hours upon hours in many teachers' studios beginning when I was 12 or 13. (My mom remembers exactly what age I began, the name of my first teacher and possibly her address.) Today I continue to study voice with Ayo Awosika to work on my less Classical chops. Although I feel like I have some mastery over my instrument I know that I have more to learn, and likewise, in order to teach singing I must take a closer look at what all goes into the human body as a musical instrument. But, mostly, I like to take a note from this tale I heard about Mahatma Ghandi:
A woman lived in rural India and had heard that Ghandi held audience once a week for anyone who might seek his counsel. Although she lived many miles away, and had only her feet for transportation, she made the long journey for she had an important question from the esteemed leader. She arrived at his home and waited many hours for her turn. When she finally came before him, Ghandi asked, "What may I help you with?"
"My son, Ghandi, he eats too much sugar and will not eat the healthy food I painstakingly prepare for him. What can I do? He is not developing well for his age."
Ghandi paused for a moment, as though in deep reflection, before he replied, "Come back in one week and I will give you an answer."
Frustrated, the woman left. She spent the remainder of the day walking home and was very tired when she arrived. Still she had no guidance in solving her dilemma. Nonetheless she made the same trek to Ghandi the very next week. She waited again for many hours for her turn to speak with him. When she came before him, he kindly gave her many tips for convincing her son to eat healthy food instead of sugar. Frustrated at his easy response, she asked him, "Why have you made me wait for this counsel and make another long journey on foot, when you could have told me this at the first?"
To which Ghandi responded, "You see, when you came to me last week, I was eating sugar. How could I honestly give you counsel when I was also neglecting my health. I needed time to give up sugar myself."
I don't know if the story's true, but the pedantic message holds true for me as a practitioner and teacher. I believe that in order to truly and honestly teach voice I must be a student as well. In this way, my goal is simply to better my musical skills for as long as I am able. For now, I have a hefty reading list.
Next steps: Drink a cup of tea and read.
Next steps: Drink a cup of tea and read.