Scattergories is a creative-thinking category-based party game originally published by Parker Brothers.
Why I Sing is a creative-thinking but currently somewhat unfocused blog currently published by Christine Thomas-O’Meally (why, that’s me!).
Recently, I established the Curiously Stronger Performing series, which focuses on specific elements of performance:
- The functional (how to present your music, how to walk into the room, how to talk to the pianist);
- The creative (selecting music, creating themes);
- The expressive (interpreting text, whether in English or another language; developing an inner monologue; physicalizing a song in the most efficient way).
And that’s what this blog needs to do. So a project I’m setting out to do over the next few months is to go through my blogposts and assign them a category.
Blogposts that are specifically about practical things like vocal technique, audition techniques, translating, and diction will go under the area of function.
Blogposts that are about finding new ways to look at things will be about creativity (and possibly about expressivity as well).
Blogposts about interpretation and physicality will be categorized under expressivity.
Announcements will either go under general or will be uncategorized.
Hopefully, this will help organize things so that they’re more easily found.
This will take awhile. Some might go under multiple things. Some of the older blogs might get reworked and updated.
One thing that annoys me is mandated recitals where people are assigned music to which they have no affinity. And, consequently, they sing it with no connection to the text, to the music, to the history of the song or the poet, or to the style of the period. They’re singing the right words, and often, according to the diction rules of the language. They’re singing the right notes. They’re singing with technique appropriate to where they are in their vocal development. But it’s not interpreting the song, or expressing anything. It’s just duplicating what they were told to do. And as soon as it’s done, it’s forgotten. It’s like a school uniform that they’re required to wear, and soon as they can take it off, it’s off.
Whose fault is that? Is it the fault of the student? Of the person who assigned the song?
Sometimes, you are assigned songs that fit a requirement and may or may not be songs you really want to sing. If you are an artist, it is your job to find something in the song that speaks to you. If your song is in a foreign language, translate it. Whether it’s in English or not, create a vernacular translation/inner monologue for yourself. Know the history of the poem, of the composer, know what its performance practice (style) is, know how the accompaniment enhances the text, and what you can do to bring that out.
This post was inspired by Seth Godin in a post called memorization and learning. In it, he says, “memorizing anything that you’ll need to build upon, improvise on or improve is foolish. You’ll need to do the work of understanding it instead.”
You need to do the work to understand that which you sing. And you need to make it your own.
Stay tuned for more information about the Curiously Strong Performing series of performance workshops I’ll be presenting in 2020. We’ll be doing the work.