Monday, April 18, 2022

The Liberated Voice

Today I take up pen (OK, fingers, but that somehow sounds inappropriate) to write about the lovely and talented Claudia Friedlander and her web site, The Liberated Voice.

Photo blatantly ganked from web site
No attribution given there
First, I must confess that I studied with Claudia for several years. Her knowledge and her approach to teaching were a perfect fit for my over-thinking head, but I know she teaches people with all different kinds of learning styles. There has been only one other teacher in my long experience of teacher-hopping (possibly a totally different article) who was such a good match, and that dear lady is, I hear, no longer in this world. The reasons I am no longer studying are simple: Claudia charges a reasonable fee for an accomplished and experienced voice teacher in NYC, and I could no longer afford it, and I never ask anyone to work for free; and then I left NYC. (She now also teaches online.) 

We have kept in touch over the years, and I appreciate that very much. Recently Claudia provided me with a review copy of the online course based on her book, Complete Vocal Fitness. (I do not have an Amazon affiliate link, but if you know someone who does and want to look at this book, please support your friend with an affiliate link.) This online course contains instruction videos, downloadable PDFs, and audio files. It also contains Q&A videos which I find particularly useful, because they are personal interactions with the people who submit questions. One often hears a difference in that student's singing between the beginning and the end of the video. One thing I especially like is that Claudia asks the student to verbalize his/her understanding of how a change was achieved.

As I said, Claudia's teaching style with me personally always worked with my over-thinking brain. In consideration of that, I can see that some might not want to hear or be able to absorb in just one hearing all of the technical knowledge that is presented here: respiration, phonation, resonance, articulation, etc. However, as I have heard said, patience and perseverance made a bishop of His Reverence. (Say it as if you're British, and it rhymes.)

All teaching is about eliminating barriers and increasing efficiency. There is no getting around it. To some this comes more easily than to others. That is also a fact of life. I myself find that a combination of scientific knowledge and imagery work best in my own singing. That might not be true for every singer. I believe Claudia has a sense of how to approach every singer who applies to her for guidance.

In summary, I must say that I highly recommend this online course for those who are able to access it. Because I was provided a review copy, I do not know the retail price. However, access to her web site is free, and there you will find a blog and lots of other information. Please take a look.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Lessons Learned

For some reason I have been watching a lot of Joyce Didonato master classes on YouTube lately. They are wonderful. At one point, I think I approached her people with the idea of watching them all and distilling her teaching into one article, but that never happened. 

Well, it's happening now.

Everything comes down to these principles:

  1. I used this photo a number of years ago
    for another article. 
    Photo:  Paul Dukovic
    Make sure your technique is rock solid. Do what it takes, even if it means making a painful change in your life. Your vocal technique must be so automatic that you no longer think about, while still thinking about it all the time.
  2. Do the work, do the work, do the work. Know what you are singing so thoroughly that you can sing it backwards hopping on whatever foot a director asks you to, on alternate Tuesdays and Thursday upon presentation of visiting card. (A quarter for anyone who gets that reference.) Practice 40 different ways to interpret each phrase, and then practice 40 more.
  3. Use the language. Know which words deserve special emphasis. Make yourself uncomfortable with how much you emphasize the language. Use the consonants while keeping phrasing and legato and a sense of arc for the entire aria or role--it's not a contradiction if your breath is moving in a healthy way. People will rarely advise you to do less. 
  4. Take the right actions and let go of the results.  True for all of life, really.

There. Feel free to pay me $200/hr now, like many teachers and coaches charge.

Many great artists give similar advice, but few do it so eloquently and with a such a sense of understanding for the process of a young singer that we hear from dear Joyce. 

I am, and have always been, Pro-Joyce!

Here is an amazing example: