Tuesday, July 7, 2009

New Songs

Today my voice teacher handed me two spanking brand new songs to learn.

Actually, they are not new songs. They are old songs, and they are songs that many singers and musicians might be familiar with.

But to me they are new songs. She handed them to me and I took them from her like they were precious jewels, all gleaming and bright. I am excited to receive them from her hands because she's a great teacher and knows exactly what I need, and knows they will fit my voice.

A new song for me is like a painter starting with a new canvas and a new set of paints. Or a chef starting with a clean kitchen and baskets full of newly purchased fresh ingredients.

I love the work that I know will go into learning those songs. I love the process. I'll always start the same way, and there will be tough moments along the way, but the focus and concentration and work and love that I'll experience while I learn them is what I have fallen in love with about being a singer.

First I'll make a copy for my accompanist book, and punch holes in my copy and put it in my book.

Then, I'll look over the entire piece and probably try to play it through on the piano a few times.

Next I'll go through and mark all the pulses. I like to try to get the whole piece into my body silently, so that I'm walking around hearing the lines in my head as I go about my day. Once the song is silently in my body like that, once it lives a life within me, then do I start to let it out. I think a song comes from within a person, and has to be let out. I've got to get it in me before I can sing it.

Only when I think I've got an idea of what it's all about, then I'll start to try to voice it. First, without words. Only using vowels. I work on the words separately.

After working this way for a while, I'll eventually go over to youtube and start listening to great singers sing the songs. I don't like to do that first because I want the song to tell me what it is before I hear what other people think the song is. I like to try to work with the composer, and what he set down on paper, for a while. Then I like to find out if I got it right.

I am actually so excited to get going on these songs that I kind of want to do it right now, but it's pretty late, so I'll just drop a blog post about it here.

It's so wonderful to have something like this to look forward to. A reason to get up in the morning!


  1. Hello! I saw you were following my blog so I thought I would check yours out as well! I am glad to hear about the new pieces you are about to learn and your plan of action to learn them :) That's interesting that you are going to check out how other singers interpret the song. As well, you can also try any avoiding any exposure to how other singers interpret the piece since you might come up with another way to the approach the piece. I sometimes find myself trying to copy how other people approach a piece when I need to be figuring out what works best for me and my own voice. However, I am sure you know the best way for you to learn a piece but I just thought I would put that tidbit out there! Happy learning :)

  2. Missable, thanks for taking the time to check out my humble blog and offering your comments. Your recommendation is a smart one and I agree with it. Checking out how other singers approach a song comes very late in the process for me. I try not to listen to someone else until I have sung the song into my voice and seen what it wants to do. Copying someone can serve some purposes, but there is a danger that it can lead to bad things too, like muscular imbalances, because, depending on our level of training, our body doesn't always understand how the other singer is producing the sound.

    I must admit that I am not terribly sophisticated about musical choices, so I am still at a stage where listening to others can be very informative for me. I'm wondering if I'll ever get to the point where I can trust completely doing my own thing!