Say Yes to Music

A few months ago, I watched a series of videos by Elly Ameling on art song, and jotted down my notes on them. Here they are (and I’ve added a few notes today, in italics):

  1. LEARN YOUR MUSIC “BY HEART” – so much more than just memorizing it. By heart.
    By heart – not only in your head, not only in your voice, but in your heart. The song has to inhabit you emotionally as well as technically.
  2. Connecting with your audience in a song recital
    I’ve talked about this before. I think a song recital should be as personal as a cabaret show. Again, it goes back to learning the music by heart.
  3. Being in the zone
    I think this is the same as being in character – I have had a few times in my life when I was so deeply in character that I responded to something that happened on stage as the character would; and once in a way that was kind of embarrassing when the scene was over. You have to ask me. I won’t write it here.
  4. Fame is ephemeral but music lives on forever. “The importance of you is relative. The importance of your task, however, is absolute.””
    If your goal is to be famous, you have the wrong motivation.
  5. “Breathing is a necessity. Phrasing is an ever-present possibility.”
    You breathe to live — and to sing. But you are singing phrases – how to make them mean something is the artistry.
  6. Loud singing is boring. Like belting, save it for when you need it!! Piano takes artistry, forte comes by itself. Vary from ppp to ff based on what the text and music asks for.
    Motivate your dynamics. But remember that ppp-ff is unique to you. Don’t sing breathy in the service of singing soft and don’t push in the service of singing loud.
  7. Diction vs. pronunciation
    Funny thing, I just talked about this in my new IGTV series, Warmup Wednesdays (also on YouTube):
  8. Using chant to create phrasing – recitative – legato
    When I was still singing in choir at church, the women started doing Communion chants – and I fought it hard at first (maybe because it didn’t use standard notation and maybe because I was being a brat). I’ve grown to love it and find that there is a real artistry to make it sound expressive and not like an endless syllabic drone. Here’s an example. (Note: You don’t need to watch all two hours of this to get the idea.)
  9. I think that music came my way, and fortunately, I said “Yes” to it.
    The best answer I ever gave.
  10. Imagination – Message – Research
    Trying to remember what this means. What I’m thinking is that you start with imagination (inspiration?) and then determine what your message was and research how to best get it across.

If you’d like to check out the series, here’s the first episode. There are 14 of them but none of them are longer than 10 minutes, about half of which are recordings of her singing from her heyday. She’s 87 now, and these videos were made earlier this year. Music keeps you young!!

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If you want to say “Yes” to music,
contact me for a Vocal Discovery Session

Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

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