Monday, January 30, 2012

Kashu-do (歌手道): What you do in the studio is not enough for the stage

A very dear friend of mine is one of the most positive and encouraging people I know.  I am lucky!  This excellent soprano friend has a way of seeing the good in what I do.  She is a good balancing element in my life because I tend to be more aware of the faults in my work.  I am generally positive, but as I said before I am a practical idealist, meaning that I only believe that practical goals are attainable through ideal preparation.

But after my latest coaching I understand why I am so tough on myself.  It must be impeccable in the studio because it will always be a little less good at the coaching and probably a little less so on stage.  In youth, before we really know what true vocal strength is, we revel in the ability to bring out results from sheer determination.  While there is virtue in determination, it should accompany skill not substitute it.

In balance, I celebrate my growth over the last year and coldly assess that there is still important work to be done before I can trust my voice onstage to do what I expect it to do, whether on a good day or a less good day.  This reminds me of something a bad teacher said to me once: "It is not reliable unless you can produce it on your worst day!" Just because he had practically no people skills, it does not mean he did not have valuable things to say.  After all I am here repeating his pronouncements some fifteen years later.

20120127Hai ben ragione.mp3

This is a clip of the last coaching. It is pretty good, but some of the baritone history is still noticeable in the low range.  My voice has a natural baritone element but it is important to distinguish when the baritone color is natural and when it is a slight looseness from a heavy production. 

I am very encouraged by my progress, but there is better! I did not travel this path only to get part of the way!

© 01/30/2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kashu-do (歌手道): The Vocal Fry: A Path To a One-Register Effect

As much as I try, I cannot avoid the word "paradox" whenever I speak about the voice.  One of the most paradoxical issues in singing is flow-phonation, a term derived from the idea of the balanced propagation of air avoiding both pressing and breathy singing.  The vocal fry has been advocated by many teachers because of its efficiency and has also been discredited by many because of the fact that a vocal fry is considered lacking in breath support.  Any vocal coordination that does not take into consideration the balance between breath, phonation and resonance will ultimately lead to dysfunction to some degree.  Rather than abandoning an element that is incomplete, I am of the mind to utilize this element and add the missing complimentary part.  It is in this manner that I have been able to make use of the central virtue of the vocal fry.


Scientists like Donald Miller of Voce Vista have used the fry to identify the five formant peaks of a given vowel through spectrography.  The approach is to reduce the subglottal pressure to such a degree that natural harmonics are too weak to be perceived in a spectrograph.  The only areas of emphasis in such a spectrogram would be the areas strengthened by the vowel formants. This would presuppose that the glottal source is efficient enough to show the strength of the peaks.  Increased glottal pressure/flow would then show the strengths of the natural harmonics and the influence of the formants on them.  

The key here is that the glottal source in a fry production is extremely efficient.  I postulate that the glottal fry achieves a midpoint between the "pressing" associated with chest voice and the falsetto pattern observed in untrained male voices and too commonly in the middle voice of professional female classical singers  (See Miller).  Indeed, neither the pressed phonation of the chest voice nor the tendency toward falsetto are desired.  They were not desired by the great teachers of the 18 and 19th century as evident in much of the literature.  The lower voice, by virtue of greater fold mass will have a richer, darker quality influenced by the presence of stronger lower partials influenced by the first vowel formant (F1). As the voice rises and fold mass (depth) decreases, the tone will become more and more dominated by partials of higher frequency and take on a more brilliant quality.  Nevertheless the basic phonation pattern should be maintained.  This is the hallmark of great singing--the illusion of one register.  Indeed the goal is to maintain a consistent phonation pattern while the acoustic events occur (i.e. First Formant (F1) dominance until c. f4, Second Formant dominance (F2) from f4# until c. f5 and basically First Formant dominance above f5 with the exception of a few notes that catch the Second Formant).  This mode of phonation is based on the vocal fry, as I demonstrate here preparing to sing the demanding multiple crossing of lower to upper register (Both a muscular event and an acoustic event, i.e. From vocalis dominance below D4 to CT dominance above it and from F1 dominance below c. F4 [vowle dependent] to F2 dominance above) in the final section of Ferrando's Aria, "Ah lo veggio..." from Cosí fan tutte (the aria is usually cut because of its difficulty).

Ah cessate.mp3


On a personal note, I could not sing this aria until I was able to accomplish the fry voice set-up throughout the range of the aria.  The fry voice is essentially an isolation of the vocal fold edge without the sub-glottal pressure that would create a supported tone.  Nevertheless the glottal posture is ideal.  I have experimented with the vocal fry for years but I could not get consistency with it until such time as a semblance of balance was achieved relative to CT-Vocalis antagonism.  This general balance I trained with full-voiced lip trills  and other occlusives at moderate volumes (not too loudly and not too softly as the two extremes present other problems).

--Reminder, full-voice is not the same as loud singing.  One may sing full-voiced softly or loudly.  Full-voiced refers to adequate fold mass and glottal closure to achieve a modal [not falsetto or hollow chest tone] tone, like the vocal fry-- 

Once CT-Vocalis antagonism was balanced, it became necessary to refine the tone by addressing glottal closure.  The vocal fry is the only exercise I know that avoids both pressed voiced and breathy voice simultaneously.  I often refer to the fry voice as: "the tone that sounds like chest voice and feels like head voice."

To summarize, the fry tone is neither chest voice nor head voice in terms of fold closure. I would venture to think that it has a high enough CQ (close quotient) that it would be called a chest tone, yet the CQ is low enough to prevent a glottal squeeze.  This midway point, which guarantees full glottal closure (no loss of air during the close phase of the vibratory cycle) and adequate flow such that sub-glottal pressure does not continue to rise, has the virtue of allowing a seamless rise from the lower register to the high register.  This yields in essence a homogeneous sound throughout the range yet does not impede natural acoustic events (i.e. acoustic registers F1 and F2).


For those who read spectrograms:


Three excerpts from the clip above, D4, F4 and Bb4 are represented below by spectrograms:



D4 (c. 300 Hz) shows two dominant peaks on the left side (F1 and F2 of the vowel [a]).  The first formant peak (F1, c. 600 Hz) dominates.  On the right sid, the 8th peak (c. 2400 Hz) represents a strong Singer's Formant component.  The F1 dominance is what is expected for D4 in the tenor voice.



 F4 (c. 350 Hz) shows a similar pattern to the D4. It is also on the [a] vowel (second syllable of "fallaci" early in the clip).  It is also F1 dominant showing a strong peak on the second harmonic (H2, c. 700 Hz).  The Singer's formant is on the 7th harmonic (H7, c. 2450 Hz).






Bb4 (c. 465Hz) on a modified version of the [i] vowels that resembles some version of the schwa even though the strength of the upper formants give the impression of an [i].    It is appropriately F2 dominant carrying the vowel energy on the 3rd harmonic (H3 c. 1380 Hz).  The fith, sixth and seventh harmonics split the energy of the singer's formant.  A decent tenor high Bb but the vocal tract could be better tuned for maximum power.   I would prefer to see the energy of the Singer's Formant carried on the sixth harmonic which would indicate a cluster effect of the 4th and fifth formants.   This is a point of refinement.


The essential point is that the expected acoustic register events take place while the approach to phonation remains constant.

--my Voce Vista is inoperative at the moment because my PC crashed.  I used Amadeus Pro for spectrography.  The display is not as singer-friendly as Voce Vista, which was created specifically for voice research-- 

I intend to carry the experiment again in the future using EGG (Electro-glottograph) to determine the CQ (close quotient) across the register events.


© 01/23/2012





Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kashu-do (歌手道): Blog Issues

Hello Friends,

By changing the address of the blog to kashu-do.blogspot.com, some features may have been affected.  Those of you who access the blog by email may need to subscribe again on the new address.  Please keep me posted of difficulties.  The old address will be deleted soon!

Thank you,

JRL

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kashu-do (歌手道): Kashu-do in Ischia

I have received a lot of emails this last year from readers asking if I would be offering any special sessions or masterclasses during the summer months when many could travel.  I am very happy to announce that I have accepted an invitation to teach at Festa Lirica, in Ischia, Italy this coming June.  Italy has always held a special place in my heart and it will be a joy to return near Naples.  Festa Lirica promises a serious learning environment in an idyllic vacation setting.  I find learning to be particularly profound when alternated with pleasurable down-time. 

A good part of the book-writing will take place during the month on Ischia, so you might be able to have a preview of how Kashu-do (歌手道), The Way of the Singer is coming.  I hope to get to meet some of you in Italy this summer. 

For more information, visit the Festa Lirica website.

All the best,

JRL

© 01/17/2012


Kashu-do (歌手道): The Inspirational Joy of Teaching and Learning

It is 1:30 am in Berlin and my flight to New York leaves in less than eight and a half hours.  I will probably sleep very little, as tends to be the case before a transatlantic flight.  Not because I have trouble sleeping but because there are a hundred little ends I must tie before leaving one home and embracing the other.

After spending time with a couple of students I had to make contact with before leaving, my last visit was to a dear friend and colleague from my school days at the University of Michigan, who is now among the great coach-pianists in the world (Not a "Turd-polisher" by any measure) and a current resident of Berlin.  It was fitting that I spent my last few hours of fellowship in Berlin this time with Adelle Eslinger.  We had made music together at a very enjoyable and serious level during our time together in school.  I was reminded tonight why it was so easy after a long time to reconnect.  Despite her long list of great accomplishments, she remains the same curious musician, who wishes to know more, discover more, be surprised by the previously unseen in  a music she might have addressed 100 times before.  Her company crowned a very special, inspirational period in Europe with my Berlin Studio.

I had a strong feeling that 2012 would be a defining year for Kashu-do (歌手道).  The Way of the Singer has become much more than I had initially imagined, and gradually I find myself surrounded by a great deal of positive energy that seems to lend support to the efforts implicit in the philosophy of Kashu-do (歌手道).  I have met accomplished singers who are sometimes plagued by a sense of complacency, afraid to lose what has always worked for them, even though they know there is something more to achieve.  On the other hand I have had the pleasure of working with some equally accomplished singers who are willing to risk a little to go beyond what has brought them some measure of success.  I do not criticize either, but the latter is my type of singer.  We are not talking about senseless risks, but it is a risk nevertheless to question the substance of something that has produced a level of success.  In Berlin, in particular, but also in Sweden and in Zwickau, Germany,  I saw my European studio transform into a league of bold, implacable artists who would be only satisfied with the absolute best in themselves.  We worked old school, often on a daily basis, chipping away at old tensions and embracing new strengths.

Suddenly I saw singers who believed in their capacity to achieve what they set their minds to.  It is the most incredible experience to see people access their inner strength right before your eyes.  The inspiration I got from this is not easy to put into words.  The interesting part is that one of my New York students was here for a good part of the time and did crazily inspiring things in a way uniting the efforts of the entire Kashu-do (歌手道) family.

In Berlin this time I experienced from beginning to end the entire process I teach.  These students gave me the special gift of seeing an entire process realized.  It is like seeing a child grow to become a fully developed adult.  On a very personal note, it gave me the strength to take the crucial next step in my own singing, assisted by the magic of yet another amazing coach-pianist, Tomoko Okada, a long-time staff member at the operas in Munich, Frankfurt, Brussels and Geneva among others.

As I return to the United States with several singing projects ahead, I have a great sense of fearlessness and excitement about how my own singing is evolving into what I always hoped. Although I do not like to make predictions as to when vocal issues will be resolved, I have a sense that I will be at performance level during 2012.  Thanks to these exceptional people that I am blessed to teach, the axiom becomes even more poignant: "The only obstacles are those we place before ourselves!"

My heartfelt thanks to the Europe Studio and all our new friends for enriching my life as a teacher and for showing me the path to my own singing.  Through teaching, I have become a better student!

© 01/17/2012


Monday, January 9, 2012

Kashu-do (歌手道): Fanciulla del West at the Royal Opera Stockholm: Forever "Flickan"!

I get giddy when I experience a night of opera that sheds light on why this unique art form is simply irresistible...WHEN IT IS DONE RIGHT!  No I am no reactionary who has a thing for 18th Century costumes (Ok, men had much more interesting fashion back then, and I would like it back.  We are boring today--But I digress) but the updating of opera in the hands of unimaginative directors with a particular diabolical skill to sell operatic ridicule to general directors has undermined the intrinsic value of opera as an art form.  Yet once in a while, a production brings together all the elements for an unforgettable night of opera.  "Flickan", short for Flickan från Västern (Swedish for La Fanciulla del West) is the way I will always remember this opera because it is difficult for me to imagine a more visually inventive theatrical rendering of this Puccini opera deserving of so much more than the occasional production.  The word is that the Royal Opera Stockholm is producing its first commerical DVD with this production and I can attest that it will be an unforgettable debut.

First, Christof Loy's production is a thing of genius!  Evoking early silent westerns, Charlie Chaplin, and even the great westerns of the 1950s and 60s when technicolor turned the broad landscapes of the American West into cinematic symbology, Mr. Loy turned Puccini's operatic Western from the precipice of parody to a multi-layered texture, juxtaposing the tender and dangerous love triangle between the three main characters and the colorful, lighthearted ensemble of miners.  The overture was accompanied by a film of Nina Stemme astride a horse in what is reminiscent of the great Arizona desert. At the end of the overture she bursts literally through the screen, guns in hand.  His treatment of the Native-American couple, Billy Jack-Rabbit and Wowkie, weaves a paradoxical thread of comic parody and innocent humanity whereby the latter dominates the moment without undermining the inherent value of the former.  To what seems a nod to Schindler's List's girl in the red dress, in one of the most touching choruses, Mr. Loy brought the lights down on the live characters, whose forms where projected on the set with a grey-scale silent film effect while the bartender Nick, clad in a crimson vest was clearly and wistfully lit center stage!

Maestro Pier Giorgio Morandi who inspired the Gothenburg Opera last year in a poetic reading of Lucia di Lamermoor has become a mainstay at the Royal Opera and for good reason.  The Royal Opera Orchestra seemed overjoyed to be playing this piece for the first time.  Maestro Morandi brought out every color and turn, all the time keeping the balance between singers and orchestra at ideal proportions.  Not one word was missed, since he mouthed every single one.  An old school conductor of extraordinary skill and energy, Maestro Morandi kept the musical tension on a knife's edge when needed and exploded with the choruses like the dynamite charges at the end of Sergio Leone's classic spaghetti western, A Fistful of Dollars.

But all of that would have had no value if the singers were not so extraordinary.  Like in Tosca, this love triangle does no work unless the three lead singers evoke great empathy.  Other than the now celebrated tenor aria "Ch'ella mi creda,"  there are no memorable set pieces in this opera.  The dramatic relationship between the actors is what makes this work.  But of course there is no operatic drama without voices to project text and emotion.  On this occasion there was no lack of vocal metal.  And precious metals they were.  The combination of Nina Stemme's dark-hued, chocolaty voice and her unique stage presence that borders on the spiritual makes for a Minnie that is at once liberating in her feminist independence, warding off the advances of so many suitors and heartwarming in the innocence of her love for Johnson/Ramirrez.  Stemme has one of the rare voices that is totally convincing in both the Italian and German repertory.  A combination of almost Latin squillo and Nordic warmth. When Aleksandrs Antonenko took the stage, there was no doubt in the midst of this large crowd of men that the lead tenor had walked in.  He exudes danger!  From moment one there was no doubt that he was both outlaw and lover, and he never had to draw his weapon.  He opens his mouth and one can hear the murmurs in the capacity crowd.  This is the Spinto tenor of our times, as exciting vocally as he is dramatically.  No lack of metal in the sound (in this case pure gold), his high notes are simply stentorian.  This is a tenor voice for the big Italian roles. Having seen him live as both The False Dimitri in Boris Godunov and Muti's Carnegie Hall Otello this year, this third time confirms in my mind that this is a tenor ready to take his place among the greats.  The combination of Antonenko and Stemme should be enjoyed in many other Italian combinations.  I can think of a few I would like to hear.  Aida anyone?  The cast of principles was beautifully rounded out by the powerful baritone of John Lundgren a Swede who makes the Copenhagen Opera his current home.  Incisive and squillante and a warmth that evokes not only Scarpia but future Wagnerian roles.  Mr. Lundgren was a perfect foil in every way for the lovers.  The ensemble of the Royal Opera lead by Niklas Björling Rygert as Nick was a parade of excellent Swedish singers who we should keep in our minds.

The house of Birgit, Jussi and Nicolai  has constantly given birth to new generations of great opera singers and absorbing all of this from the Soloist's Box, (courtesy of the Royal Opera since the show was deservedly sold out--thank you), I have no doubt that opera is in no danger of dying soon.  The recipe has always been the same:  Great singers, period! Good if they're pretty too but not the other way around (You know: Pretty, good if they can sing too);  A conductor who loves opera passionately and loves to hear singers' voices.  A director who understands the dramatic power of music theater, that it begins with the music.  It is interesting that so many modern directors use the music in opera as "incidental" and that Christof Loy evokes film but keeps the music as the driving force of the opera, as it should be!  With Katharina Thalbach's Barbiere at the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 2009, this is the finest directorial effort I have seen in the last ten years!  Thank You Kungliga Operan for "Flickan"!

© 1/9/2012

NB:  The address of the blog is now http://kashu-do.blogspot.com, changed from http://tsvocaltech.blogspot.com


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Kashu-do (歌手道): Polishing Turds, The Unfortunate Relationship Between the Under-developed Singer and the Modern Coach-Pianist

I begin the year boldly because this new year must see the repair of many dysfunctions.  I always begin with myself.  I am an unfinished singer!  After nearly four years of trench-work on my voice I am happy with certain things: the physical and muscular stamina that allows me to sing through Radames twice without feeling vocal fatigue.  Yet the quality of the tone still needs work in order to be truly beautiful on a consistent basis.  At 46-years of age, an operatic career is not what drives me.  A vocal ability that reaches the level of the great singers is my goal, and so I don't care how long it takes.  But indeed I want to sing.  Why develop this ability if not to use it?  On a very practical note, almost no one will have any serious professional interest in me unless the quality of the product I bring out is exceptional.

I want a perfectly consistent, reliable and well-supported high C, the ability to sing all dynamics on every note, flawless coloratura and the ability to trill, a seamless legato and no obvious gear change in the transition between registers.  The rest I have!  No one can dispute my musicianship, stagecraft and linguistic skills.  So I am not a self-hindering perfectionist of the impractical-idealistic type.  I am a practical idealist.  This means that I believe practical achievements are only truly possible with excellent skills.

I know what I have accomplished and I also know what I have yet to accomplish.  I am a performer, first and foremost, and those who have performed with me and know me can imagine how painful it must be for me not to be performing in someway on a weekly basis like I used to as a baritone.  Still I do not want what I had before.   I want the clear, unmitigated excellence that I could not have achieved as a baritone because I am a tenor.  I want no less than this excellence because it is the only thing that I can be truly proud of.  It is also the only thing any decent manager or impresario or serious coach-pianist would be interested in.

In other words, I am not interested in Polishing Turds.  The term "polishing turds" came from the former teacher of a student I currently teach.  The colorful expression can more delicately be described by the following metaphor:  Imagine donning a fresh coat of paint on a house that is crumbling inside from a termite infestation!  Better yet, imagine a singer who makes very pretty sounds on a vocal instrument that would collapse if any kind of adequate breath pressure is applied to it.  We live in a world of digital recordings where so much electronic enhancement can make a substandard voice appear to sound like that of a great predecessor.  The only problem is that acoustic truth can only be altered so much.  The average recording engineer does not have enough knowledge about the acoustics of the voice to transform Bocelli into Corelli.  Besides if he did, the difference in a live performance would be obvious to all.  So the best that he can do, is manipulate the balance between orchestra and voice to make the singer sound a lot more present than he might under true operatic conditions.  The important thing then is that the singer can create a sound that emulates a bona fide operatic voice enough to create the illusion for the modern operatic fan, whose ears may have been conditioned by manipulated digital recordings.  In truth I am not criticizing Mr. Bocelli!  He was a superior Italian pop musician before he ever sang operatic music.  He studied with Franco Corelli enough to acquire the ability to manipulate his resonance to emulate an operatic sound.  But the muscular development necessary to produce a proper operatic sound has not been done in this case.  Nevertheless, Mr. Bocelli is a very sensitive musician who can give the impression of a musical line better than most.  He also has a homogenous voice with easy high notes.  His became the standard for Pop-Opera!  If all of his concerts are held in large outdoor venues that require electronic enhancement, he has all the elements to convince the average, Opera-lite audience member.  That number is a lot larger than the number of bona fide opera fans.  I would not want a world without Andrea Bocelli!  Because his Opera-lite fans (in a world where the difference is made between Opera and Pop-Opera)  could become real opera fans, providing that they have an experience in the house that satisfy their electronically schooled hearing.  Herein lies the problem!  In the opera house, Bocelli's voice is not viable, otherwise he would be filling opera houses throughout the world!  He tried to sing Werther at Michigan Opera Theater a number of years back and it did not work! Incidentally, his blindness has nothing to do with it.  The balance with the orchestra was the problem.
At least Mr. Bocelli and his handlers recognize the difference and are content to top the charts singing operatic music on recordings and in situations where the sound can be electronically controlled.  Bravo, Mr. Bocelli!

However in many cases, those who hire opera singers do not make this crucial distinction. Hence the title of this first post in 2012.  More Bocelli-type voices are being trained than bona fide, theater-ready operatic voices, first by some voice teachers who are afraid to address the muscular weaknesses of the voices in their care and second by coaches who are taking fragile voices and teaching them to make effects in a small room that does not translate to an orchestral environment.  Lighter voices can manage to sing unsupported pianissimi and create musical effects that simulate the requirements on the musical page.  The average coach-pianist is trained to help a singer become aware of what the composer has written. However, those musical directions are written relative to the bona fide operatic voice.  The superior coaches understand that one must first develop a well-supported sound before they attempt to sing musical directions.  Legato, staccato, portamento, pianissimo, forte, all have a different meaning when the voice is a fully-developed operatic voice.  The coaches who truly grasp the difference are few and far between.  Indeed, singers with bona fide operatic voices, but with unfinished techniques, will have problems in the current system.  Even if they have voices that are more suited to the operatic/orchestral environment, they often do not get pushed forward because their technique does not meet the requirements of the page, which drives both the record industry and the training of the average coach-pianist. The only solution for a singer with a well-developed voice is to finish the job and develop the ability to make all of those musical effects, particularly softer dynamics really well.  Without those skills, an unsupported voice who is able to simulate a pianissimo will get the job over a bona fide operatic voice that has not yet developed the ability to sing softly.

Thus hundreds of coaches make a decent living trying to help under-developed voices sound like the electronically enhanced recordings of pop-opera stars.  No ill-will for the coaches!  They are just doing the job that the environment has made important. Indeed the continuation of the relationship they had with singers at the University level, doing song recitals--All about twisting a fragile voice into a pretzel to create interesting momentary effects.  The days of Hermann Prey and Jessye Norman are gone.  Great songsters who could sing perfectly supported pianissimi and understood the meaning behind the dynamics, as opposed to young singers copying the Dieskau and Schwarzkopf choices that have become standard, whether in Lieder or in the few Mozart Operas where these voices can somewhat be heard.  Thank God for the few professionals that defy the trend--Kaufmann, Pape, Damrau and a few others are just as convincing in Lieder as they are in Opera for the simple reason that they have extremely well-developed techniques and superior musicianship, which they apply to the great music and text they chose to interpret.

What is the point I am trying to make in analyzing this complex scenario?  Simply this:  sending the young under-developed singer to a coach-pianist is tantamount to derailing his/her career.  Either their fragile voices will be twisted into a pretzel in an attempt to satisfying the aural expectations of the electronically-trained ear of young coaches or they will suffer the indignation of the same coaches who will label them unable--unable to twist into a pretzel.

For that reason, I send the aspiring young singers that I teach to old-school coaches who understand their level of development and how to help them develop further into bona fide opera singers.  Until they have developed a real voice, I caution them not to go to just any coach, particularly when they are going through the necessary unstable stages of operatic development.  Those difficult periods are already likely to challenge the singers sense of worth.  They do not need someone reinforcing those feelings of insecurity.

The average modern coach is a finisher, like a house painter or a cake-decorator.  S/he needs a well-baked cake or a house with a perfect frame and shingles.  S/he does not have cement nor extra batter to fill the holes in the singers sidings or cake.  They get very upset when there are holes to fix, since it is not their job.  They do not want to polish turds either!

So singers, save yourself the money and the indignation and save the coaches the frustration.  Give yourselves time to develop real skills, not tricks!  If you have no skills, you put the coaches in the position to teach you tricks (unfortunately, too much of this is taking place). You will find the same coaches become extremely helpful when you bring them something to work with that is within the scope of their trained skills!

For my part, as an unfinished singer, I will not pay someone to get upset with what I am not able to do, but rather go to someone who can make suggestions that will complement my technical work.  To that end, a shout-out to the few coaches I have chosen to spend my time with:  Steven Crawford in New York, a long-time coach at the Metropolitan Opera who understands voices better than most voice teachers I know. His input has helped my own development significantly; Susan Morton of Sing-Through Central provides a great service to young singers, teaching them appropriate roles in a nurturing atmosphere.  As a developing tenor, I have benefited from her friendly tutelage; Alessandro Zuppardo, in Leipzig, a long-time colleague and friend, who was there on the day I decided to pursue the transition to tenor.  His attention to detail made me realize what skills I needed to accomplish before presenting myself to the average coach.  It is great to have knowledgeable and experienced coach-friends who provide a safe environment, where a developing singer can make mistakes without being treated like a total loser.  Thank you all three for everything you do! In addition, I offer my heartfelt thanks to Kanako Nakagawa and Andrej Hovrin, in Berlin who have contributed to the building of confidence in the students I have the honor to teach.  They are demanding and loving, the paradoxical marks of great teachers!

There are other great coaches of course!  I would advise you to seek them out and avoid polishing turds: your own or that of others!

© 1/5/2012






Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Forgive the unfinished preview!

It seems an unfinished version of my last post was published.  I hope I did not loose the finished post which is much more coherent!  Pray forgive the electronic blunder!

Happy New Year to you All!

JRL