It is the final stretch of the 2013/14 season and today I am in beautiful Quebec City. Yesterday, I was in New Orleans. And in two days, HOME! Finally.
It has been such a wonderful spring, filled with Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven, Bach, Bruckner and more. I am so grateful for the wonderful colleagues, friends and talented musicians that I have learned so much from and had so much fun with. I have literally travelled from the Eastern to Western seaboard and to the Gulf of Mexico. What a wild ride!!
Today my larynx and I have been having a little heart to heart. There is some confusion as to why yesterday it was asked to sing in the upper extremes of its register in 90 degrees with humidity. Today it’s a rainy, cold 45 degrees and I am asking my body to sing the lowest repertoire I have ever sung. Add a little jet-lag to the mix, et voila, a recipe called, “Singers Delight.” Truthfully though, I wouldn’t change a thing. This is what I have worked so hard to be able to do.
And that is what is on my mind this afternoon, the human singing voice is AMAZING. It is resilient enough to withstand climate changes, time-zones, travel, hermetically sealed hotel rooms….and still lift itself up over an orchestra into a hall with thousands of people and sing some of the most exquisite music ever written. It’s remarkable.
I am reminded today (because I am so tired) of how much I value the work I put into building and maintaining my vocal technique. It is an endless balancing act and I am always amazed how much a voice grows and changes over the span of a singer’s lifetime. Flipping through a score, I see marking from one of my most important mentors, Professor Lorna MacDonald.
There have been some crucial moments in my singing life, but one decision I will forever be grateful for was in 2009 when I chose to go back to school and do my Masters with Lorna MacDonald. I had been singing professionally for quite some time, I had had some excellent teachers and been through some wonderful programmes. But it was time for me to bring it all together, figure out what I knew and didn’t know. It was time to grow myself to the next level and Professor MacDonald was the one to help me do it.
To say we worked hard is an understatement. But to take the emotional aspect out of it, we had a target, we had a time limit and we moved as fast and as furiously towards our goal as my voice would carry us. I say we because it was a team effort. I gave her my trust, she gave me her knowledge, and even if there were bumps along the way, Lorna was specific, efficient and she did it all with massive integrity and heart. I worked my butt off and so did she.
Some of my most treasured possessions are a stack of DVD’s from my time with Lorna. We recorded our weekly lessons and then it was my job to really grab hold of what was taught and then make it habit. I must have watched and listened to those dics a thousand times. The first step was to get my ear to identify the subtle differences, the second step was to figure out what I was doing that made the difference and the final step was to ask my voice to make those technical changes consistent.
Today in 2014, I look back on that time with Lorna and realize how crucial it was to my technical vocal health and my musical spirit. Her exacting, unrelenting guidance helped give me the confidence to stand up tired and exhausted today and sing with my whole body and heart. By trusting Lorna, I began the journey of trusting my vocal self.
So one more day, one more plane ride and the 2013/14 comes to a close. For whatever this business lacks in predictability and stability, it makes up for in adventure. I am so grateful for the wonderful albeit sometimes wild and challenging ride.