Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Singing Musical Theater  -
Communication of the Word (Part 3 of 3)

Good healthy technique is a wonderful thing. How do you take it to the next level with any style of singing? By communicating the meaning of the words.  Opera has learned the meaning of conveying words from musical theater.  If you are taught the importance of the meaning of the words, it means a lot to the tone quality you create.  It helps you to know and understand your voice and unleashes another level to your sound.

“If you actually communicate the song, no matter what style it is, I feel like you can present it in a valid way”. (O’Hara)

“Meaning of the word and expression is everything.  Learn to speak correctly, for if you don’t change speech habits, that is how you sing” (Birdwell, Classical Singer, April 2012).  http://www.classicalsinger.com/magazine.    In other words, if you bring unhealthy speech habits into your singing, you will start unhealthy singing habits especially as you communicate your musical theater songs in English.  A mix in the voice is healthy- bring the head voice down and bring the chest voice up a little bit, and it is combined to be one voice, not two separate sounds.  Connect your speech to your singing.

Healthy speaking habits can lead to even healthier singing.   http://bit.ly/J7zsRk

Overall, when solid vocal technique is mastered, communication of the written word is the icing on the cake and the key to the portal of healthy musical theater singing.   Think about how much you can touch your audience when you truly express the meaning of the text in your songs.  This is what is so moving about singing as an art form.  It is imperative in musical theater, why not make it a necessary component of all of your singing?

Go and develop your singing with healthy technique and connect with the beauty of communication through song.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Singing Musical Theater 
Variety Keeps Agility when Singing  (Part 2 of 3)

You can keep the voice healthy and agile through singing a variety of repertoire.  Kellie O’Hara states that if you do both classical and musical theater singing, you “keep everything loose as you use different parts of the muscle” (vocal cords).  Think of the analogy of being a runner.  If you only run all the time, you will lose your ability to be flexible and do ballet.  If you only do ballet, you will not have the stamina to be a runner.  By doing both, you stay flexible.  By singing musical theater and classical or opera and a little bit of country, you exercise the different parts of your vocal cords and surrounding muscles.  This keeps the instrument flexible.  Of course given your passions and performing venues, you will do a little more of one style than another.  You should always afford yourself the opportunity to sing different styles, even if it is only in the practice room.

You use similar breath support for opera as you do for belting. (Kellie O’Hara)  It is low and deep. You create the sound in the same place, it just resonates differently. (Buccleugh, Kathleen Farrar, “No Limitations”, Classical Singer, April 2012.)  http://www.classicalsinger.com/magazine

 In introducing belt warm-ups, O’Hara’s teacher, Florence Birdwell states that there is a tremendous amount of support involved to do it correctly.  A healthy belt equals absolute support- the same support that carries the voice up in high/legitimate singing.  If you keep it free with no tension, it creates a well-supported sound.  She describes the support required to be as low as if you were physically lifting the piano with your arms and legs, not your back (as many of her students really do in lessons).  http://www.classicalsinger.com/magazine

When studying musical theater and classical singing in the same lesson, the style and songs should be taught separately, but students should be reminded that what they are using in one can be used in another.  This is especially true of the emotion in a foreign language after singing a musical theater piece.

When practicing, always return to a song that you know sits in your voice well.  One that you have worked on with good technique that returns you to a good, healthy place.  Sing it at the beginning and end of your practicing.  If you can sing this song well after learning a new song and using new additions to your technique (such as belting), you know you are and will stay in a good place.

What are the other values of singing a variety of repertoire?  What has opera learned from musical theater? Read about it in “Communication of the Word” in my next blog.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Singing Musical Theater
Classical and Musical Theater Technique (Part 1 of 3)

Spring and summer months often find voice studios and voice students focused on singing musical theater repertoire. What a fun time with so many high school musical productions. The fever for musical theater gets started.  Singers want to sing this repertoire and improve their voices for next year’s opportunities.  Dancers want to work on their singing and acting.  Actors and actresses want to work on their singing and dancing to get a better part next year.  The summer is such a great time to work on all three to improve your skill sets and have fun performing.  (Contact Susan about Summer Musical Theater Series opportunity at susananders@aol.com!)

When a singer wants to learn to sing musical theater, he or she should first establish a solid classical technique. “If you have safe and good classical technique, you can learn to sing anything.  For a classical student studying musical theater, focus on communicating the words and putting a little more spoken word into the song”.  (Florence Birdwell, singing teacher of Kristin Chenoweth, Lara Teeter, Kellie O’Hara)  (Buccleugh, Kathleen Farrar, “Know Your Voice”, Classical Singer, April 2012.) http://www.classicalsinger.com/magazine

By learning the fundamentals and physiology of singing, you learn how to sing in a healthy way.  Aligning the breath, posture, and support puts your singing on a stable plane.  Once you master that you work on understanding your individual instrument. 

Where does your voice change in character?  What vowels work best for you through tough spots?  How do you make your voice work through your transition points?  After that, you can explore where your passions lie (musical theater, pop, country).  Figure out how YOU sing a song best.
Getting a firm base in technique will guide your singing to where it can and should go based both on your passions and physical capabilities.  Find out more about agility of the singing voice in my next blog.  What can singing classical music do for your musical theater repertoire?