Posted by: Dramamezzo | May 31, 2010

The Power of Simplicity (for real this time)

The original post that I meant to write with this title will now commence.

What do you think about when you are singing an aria?  Or if you don’t sing, what do you think about when you are giving that really important speech?

If you are singing you should  be trying to convey an emotion right?  When giving a speech at the least you are conveying an idea, hopefully an inspired one.

I have watched people sing with great emotion, movement and concentration and not really convey much. What gets lost?  How do we get stuck in our heads when everything in us is thinking about getting it out?  I tell my students that singing is about opposites being balanced.  You can’t think so much about what you are supposed to do that you don’t DO anything.  You can’t be so affected by the meaning and emotion that it never gets to the ones who are listening.

I went to a masterclass.  I don’t remember which one, I’ve been to a lot of them.  If you want to trust my memory it was Janet Bookspan.  She did amazing things with these great student singers.  Voices focused, phrases fused and soared, emotion  was conveyed.  All from one very simple, very easy approach.

She had everyone sing their song with one word,  to be___  in mind through the entire song.  Something about it focuses the mind and prevents the flailing, the searching and the “what do I do nows”.  You’ve got to try it. Instead of all the ideas and emotion dispersing in a thousand directions this approach gives a singular focus creating  increasing intensity and meaning as you sing the aria.  All the translation, all the song evaluation and music theory in the world will get you nowhere without a singular purpose.  The beauty of having done all that translation work though is that all of a sudden betrayed /betraying, isn’t just pain/screw you.  It’s the underlying red beneath the line “My heart opens to your voice as a flower opens at dawn.”  It’s the demand behind “Tell me again that you will return your love, swear it!”  It’s the driving current in “Respond to my tenderness.  Give in to me.”

And isn’t that a lot more fun to put together than a word to a word and a note to a note?  This exercise gives me a point of focus that never changes.  It becomes the reason and reaction.  It is an automatic acting lesson.  Want to explore the character even more?  Change the verb and see what these words mean when you are in love, and being loved.  Jealous, scared, frustrated.

When you are talking about giving a speech the verb can be a call to action, reborn, renewed, reused or to believe, to hope, to change, to give…

That point of focus is suddenly no longer an elusive space in your head, or spec on a wall.  It is alive and active and only ONE WORD.  So even if you are ridiculously nervous you can remember ONE WORD.  How easy, how simple, how phenomenal!


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