Soprano & Voice Teacher, North York, Toronto, (Don Mills & Sheppard)


I'd like to share on this blog things that inspired me (relating to music, singing & vocal pedagogy) - hopefully they will inspire you too! Frequency - about once a month. You are welcome to leave your comments and suggestions or e-mail me.

I will also publish in this blog events and performances and you are also welcome to visit my official website or voice studio website. Happy reading and singing!

~ Miriam

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Anatomy of the Neck Video

If you can't view the video, click here.

View this beautiful video to get an idea how complex the neck & larynx area is; and appreciate better how all those muscles, ligaments, bones and cartilages have to work in perfect correlation to produce a beautiful sound... And that is still not enough... involved are also the pharynx, mouth, chest, facial muscles and abdominal muscles... Knowing your body better will result in more awareness, more respect to your body and your "instrument" and hopefully - understand better how to create those subtle movements and subtle changes that tune your instrument until you are able to achieve your ideal sound and its many colors.

More info about vocal anatomy
Anatomy links

The Pentatonic Scale or The Power of Bobby McFerrin

View the full "Notes & Neurons: In Search of the Common Chorus" video

The major pentatonic scale is: Do-Re-Mi-Sol-La-Do (C-D-E-G-A-C), and does not include Fa(F) and Ti/Si(B) (no semi tones in this scale!). That is why many folk songs and nursery rhymes throughout the globe are based on the pentatonic scale - easier to sing! You can also create a pentatonic scale by playing only the "black" keys on the piano. If you check the Kodály pages, you will notice that Kodály teaches first the pentatonic scale and only at the end introduces Fa(F) and Ti/Si(B).

And now, about the video... Bobby McFerrin is not only a wonderful musician and entertainer, but also an educator. Let's try to incorporate his magic into our self teaching and our performances / auditions:

  • Begin with something basic that you / the audience are comfortable with and familiar with.
  • Repeat. Another easy warmup / song.
  • Then go to the next step - take time to introduce the new concept / more difficult range / more difficult exercise / deeper music
  • Once you start rolling - go on (third note).
  • Do everything you do with fun, charm and humour (splitting his legs). Introduce a funny song, funny gesture. If you have a bad day - don't be frustrated; if you forget the words - don't panic. Laugh at yourself and apologize - but stay focused.
  • Don't dwell on the joke - move right on now that the audience is "yours" - more is coming up!
  • Going down the minor third (the fourth note he introduced) is not trivial - so he leads the audience. Could be analogical to working on the passaggio area. Carefully!
  • Then just play. Improvise. Use what you know + make up your own exercises - what works on your voice. Make new ornaments to your pieces (when stylistically accepted). I wouldn't recommend improvising during a performance, unless you're Ella Fitzgerald, but prepare some new ornaments for your next performance...
  • Always end a performance when they want more and don't overwork the voice when practicing - always end your practice when you still feel fresh and energetic!
  • Give credit to others (the audience, pianist, conductor, other singers etc...), love yourself and your voice just enough but not too much - you won't leave space for others to love you ;-)

And many more things... Please share if you can "pin down" what else makes his performance so good!

Get Inspired by the Bel Canto Giants

These are bits and pieces about bel canto, vocal technique and other stuff discussed by conductor and vocal coach (and Sutherland's husband) Richard Bonynge with the best Bel Canto singers of the 20th century: Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland & Marilyn Horne. It's beautiful to watch how those wonderful musicians treat their instruments with such respect and continue to master their craft; demonstrate the exercises they use for vocalizing and in a way - they seem like very sweet students. Very very talented and hard working students, but still working on the same ol' problems...

If you can't view the video, click here.

If you can't view the video, click here.