Today we had the last candidate come to the University. This candidate, is Dr. Beeman. Very peppy and on her toes, Dr. Beeman came in like a firecracker and was immediately ready to get things moving. The format of today was similar to Monday, in the way that we had the interview with her first, and then the masterclass after the interview. The interview, went very, very well. We started out asking the generic questions, and then the usual questions came up about if she is ready to take the place of someone who we all have grown to love, and somebody who had been our teacher for the past x number of years. Though most of us expected her to reply with "Of course!" or "Most definitely!", she was very straight with her response. She told us that before coming to this interview, she was teaching in Chicago. When she gained the teaching position, she was also replacing a voice teacher who was leaving. She knows what we are going through. After she expounded upon that, she went on to plainly say that no two people are alike. "She is she, and I... I am me." She knows that we are going through a rough switch, but she is ready to come in the department and not try to emulate our old voice teacher, but ready to be the absolute best instructor that she herself knows how to be, and that in the end, we will be better for it. We also learned that she did her doctoral dissertation on vocal health. I'm not going to attempt to say what her title was, but it is something affiliated with vocal health. She is educated in the voice, the health of the voice, and most importantly, the recovery of the voice. She is very, very experienced in vocal recovery. After the interview, came the much anticipated masterclass. After I sang Hahn's "D'une Prison", she came on to the stage, and observed my posture. As always, I was standing like a stick. Hands are by my sides, and I am lookin' like an awkward beanstalk. She looked at me for a second, and she said, "I'm guessing you're a pretty humorous person, am I right?" (She was right). " . . . maybe a little bit mischievious . . . am I right?" (She was right). "And then you come up on stage, and you are suddenly reserved and serious. Just open up." After shaking loose my body to open up, she went on to say, "You're a naturally musical person. You're a very naturally musical person. You probably get that a lot, don't you?" Honestly, I have never gotten that before. There, she was already receiving brownie points with me, because sure, after you know somebody is into music, you start to see and understand that they are musically oriented. This though, is the first time ever, that someone has heard me sing once, and say that. As simple as it may have sounded, it meant a lot to me. She then had me sing my piece again. This time while I was singing, she had me walk around the stage, throwing my arms in the air. Does it sound silly? Why yes, very silly. But each instructor has their different way, and as a student, you have to trust that they know what they are doing, and that it could possibly make you better. She was doing this to literally release my body from the tense, stagnant state that it usually is in when I sing, and to open up my chest and diaphragm (Random side-note: When I say, or hear the word "diaphram", I literally say "dia-frag-um" in my head immediately after). As I sang and did these motions, not only was a vibrato present, but my was voice was so free that I almost didn't recognize it. My vibrato was clear as day, and my voice was flowing. Dr. Beeman did WORK
Today, we had the pleasure to meet Dr. Kimberly Gelbwasser. The moment she walked into the room, energy and excitement filled the space. As opposed to doing the interview and then the masterclass, today we had the masterclass with her first, and then we had the interview after. As I did with the masterclass on Monday, I sang "D'une Prison" again. After I was finished, I was prepared to be picked apart bit by bit, but instead, the silence after I finished was greeted with a smile, and positive comments. She began to say how nice French sounded in my voice, and then that my tone sounded nice. Her biggest strength by far, was her amazing way of describing the voice. In other words, any professor can tell you to "keep the air moving", and any professor can tell you to "spin your air." What she did, was she provided each of us with a mental picture, that we could use to actually picture the voice doing something. She had movements that she used, and mnemonic devices along with those movements. What she did for me, was something totally new, but something extremely effective. As I have mentioned before in this blog, my voice has a straighter sound to it, and does not really harbor much of a vibrato. But what she did, was very intuitive, and very genius. She started to talk about how there was much more to my voice, and how she wanted me to bring it forward more. She went about this by having me sing a French vowel. This French vowel, open-"e"-nasal, is a vowel that occurs quite often in "D'une Prison." The best way to try and give you, reader, an example of this French vowel, is to try and say "man" in an Alaskan accent. It is the kinda-gross, nasally "ee-ih" sound that you create. Heck, that might not even work, but it's what I got. Anyways, she had me sing on that vowel. After I sang on that vowel, she asked me where I felt it resonating. It's resonating towards the back of my mouth, I replied. She then suggested that I sing the same vowel, but try and produce it more towards the front, so I could feel it resonating near my nasal cavity. I then did that, and BOOM. Vibrato. After that, she had me sing through the piece, mentally thinking about keeping my sounds towards the front of my face, and in result, my sound was a lot more free. During the interview, we got to know a lot more about her in a much much casual setting. She is very into musical theater, is full of expressions, and is very relatable.
After this semester, our cool-cat of a voice teacher is retiring. Though we will all miss Dr. Keitges, we realize that there's nothing wrong with a little change. This week, that change is taking place.
With no need to say, well, much of anything, here is the raw vocal talent of one Gavin DeGraw. His vocal control, pitch accuracy, clear falsetto, and impeccable musicality sets a bar for me to one day reach
Jerome Collins. Jerome Collins, is a part of the several man a capella group, Straight No Chaser. Though I've always had a passion for music, this video really solidified my passion, and love for the art. After seeing the facial expressions of the men, hearing the harmonies and power that they produce, and just feeling the sincerity of the piece altogether, it was in that moment that I heard Jerome Collins, that I was sure that I wanted to pursue music, through hell or highwater
This morning in piano class, we were assigned an Etude. "Etude", means story. Though it was simply a continuous arpeggiation of triads, the tune was very intriguing. It went from D Major, to D Augmented, a D with a lowered 3rd, to E minor, to E minor Augmented, and so on and so forth. Every measure, the mood of the piece changed completely. As of late, I have been chillin in the dusty, rusty, mentally muddied, empty vacuum of Writer's Block. After playing through Etude though, I may now have some ideas on which direction I may want one my pieces to go
This past week, I came across a musician's page on the internet. They too, are a singer-songwriter, and after checking out their original music and what they were about, I decided to e-mail them. This past week, a lesson in one of my classes has dealt with Networking. It stressed the importance of following up, keeping in contact, and essentially being an advocate of communication, to not only keep you in the loop, but well... make you look good. After visiting this musician's page, this lesson came to mind, so I decided to e-mail them. I articulately composed a lengthy e-mail, saying
I understand that people are busy with work, and that I may just be impatient, but personally, I think that if your clientele is your fans, and if your fans only way to contact you is e-mail, then I think that the e-mail should be responded to in a timely fashion. Why? Because it makes the artist look good. It shows that as busy as they may be, they have time to shoot back a quick, "Thank you, much appreciated" so that the fan can say, "Hey, this person has great music, AND they care." Again, yes people do get busy, but if that is the case, then maybe someone can be hired to respond to e-mails? Or someone can be hired to do all of the work that is related to contacting?
I'm not bitter.
On occasion, I think about what goes into a vibrato. I have been told that a vibrato is created by the spinning of your air, when your voice is "free". I personally, do not have a distinct vibrato. My voice is not completely straight-toned, but certainly does not have the artistic wobble to it. At first, it was a bit discouraging. From practice to practice, and through repetition I still could not develop a vibrato. I can certainly say that the process is slow, but I can slowly start to hear one. Most importantly, I've learned to accept the voice I was given, and just maybe find the beauty in a straighter-toned voice.