Friday, April 17, 2009

Peterborough Kiwanis Music Festival

I just returned from adjudicating the Peterborough Kiwanis Music Festival. What a wonderful experience for me to hear and see all the well prepared young singers! Congratulations to the teachers of those singers - you are doing a great job!

I had lots of feedback and questions during the festival and most of them about some of the exercises that I used for getting resonance in the voice. Here is a list of things I have used in the past and/or various teachers have used for my voice (teachers include Mary Morrison at the University of Toronto, the late Dr. William McIver of the Eastman School of Music and Mary Lou Fallis in Toronto):

Start on the 5th of a descending 3 note triad and sustain the [i]: hungi -i -i

Sustain on one pitch: mmmm i- e-a-o-u

Descending 5 note scale singing [ogni] on each pitch (sounds like the [n] in "onion")
(This is directly out of Richard Miller's The Structure of Singing chapter on resonance)

Singing a descending 3 note triad with a "nasty" sound: [nia] [nia] [nia]

I would love to hear what other teachers are using as the more options we have the better we are as teachers!


Anonymous said...

Wow! Elizabeth, we were privileged here in Peterborough to have you adjudicate our vocal classes. Thank you. Your tips and suggestions were always appropriately based on the developmental stages and ages of the students that you were adjudicating.

I would especially like to comment on and thank you for particular comments made to our 12 year old son, Jacob. First, you publicly admitted to not having trained boy trebles and asked Jacob to confirm your comments and suggestions with his teacher. You earned so much respect for that comment, Elizabeth. I liken this to a doctor who isn’t exactly sure what he/she is dealing with in regards to your health. Instead of guessing and treating, he/she is professional enough to send you to a colleague with more experience in that particular area. This is the utmost in professionalism! For that, we thank you. Having said that, your exercises and suggestions were extremely valuable and will be used by Jacob and his vocal coaches.

The other memorable comment (one that actually brought tears to my eyes) that you made in regards to Jacob had to do with the inevitable voice change that he will endure in the next year or two. Elizabeth, you have been only the second person to ever put such a positive perspective on this change. The other person was a gentleman who is a long-standing member of the Canadian Opera. Instead of the typical “enjoy it while it lasts”, or “it will soon change”, or “you never know what you’ll get after it changes”, you told Jacob that he “already has all of the skills and technique to apply to his new voice, when it changes someday”. What an incredibly positive way to present this to a boy who describes singing as “his life”! Jacob and his vocal teacher have already decided to refer to his upcoming voice change as his “new voice” instead of “when my/his voice changes”. If only others could know the impact of their words like you obviously do. Thank you so much from Jacob and from his grateful and thankful parents.

Again, we thank you so much for your insightful tips and encouraging words to all three of our children over the past week. You have made this year’s festival such a positive experience and memory.

Elizabeth McDonald said...

It was my pleasure to be in Peterborough! Thanks for the feedback - it is great to know when you have said something helpful!

From the voice of....