Bel Canto

November 14, 2006

What a term. What a term!

After a week and a half of illness (kidney infection, leading to my first encounter with socialized medicine, where at one point I found myself debating whether or not to knock down an old man carrying a copy of his echocardiogram who’d cut in front of me in the line for the doctor) I have once again returned to my studies, which this term is focused entirely on singing.

There’s a marked difference in my abilities this semester. For one thing, I haven’t cried once during rehearsal yet, which is a total improvement. Truly, the improvement is in my confidence. It’s not new to me to sing with this ensemble, I am familiar with and absolutely trust my teacher, so I’m starting with a greater foundation than before.

And it just feels damned good. Today I was twenty minutes late to my lesson, ran through the streets clutching my music after an irritated phone call by my teacher. I had been sitting at Symposium gorging myself on waffles and yogurt, thinking my lesson was thirty minutes later than it actually was. So by the time I arrived at the music room, I was out of breath and stuffed with food and hadn’t warmed up yet.

The first two scales were pretty amusing. I was croaking like a frog. Orfeas raised his eyebrow, cleared his throat, then gently suggested we try the resonance exercise to warm up for my warm up. This exercise involves scrunching my face up and making all the sound come out through my nose, then slowly moving into singing position and letting the note ring free. Usually what happens is I start out with my face scrunched then find myself standing splaylegged belting out a single note at the top of my voice. It always leaves me startled.

Today, Orfeas coached me through that, then made some position changes and gave me some hints until I found myself hitting the resonance. The resonance! Your whole body vibrates the first time you get it right. I’d been doing this exercise for a year and it made some improvements but today I finally understood what it was I was reaching for, how I was supposed to control this instrument which is my body which I make music with. It was fucking awesome. I was singing with vibrato (something I’ve always insisted that I could do but Orfeas had never heard me and didn’t really believe it) and it was easy, it just flowed.

The rest of the lesson was fine, you know, I sang some songs and it went pretty okay and I’m learning a new Italian piece that’s pretty fun and very fast and happy, but those ten seconds when I hit the resonance – god damn. It’s like touching the sun for a second and having it electrify you instead of bursting into flame.

3 thoughts on “Bel Canto”

  1. I love the image of you flying through the streets of Paros, cheeks puffed with waffles, hair streaming, a flurry of loose music sheets billowing in your wake.

    And of course you didn’t burst into flame. You ARE the sun!

    xo Wee

  2. OH!

    i’m excited about your lessons and finding out the nuances of an instrument you’ve always had and used, but never understood.


    what do the greek do for thanksgiving?


    alright then, what about the greek brianna and josh?!?!

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