Common wisdom dictates that one of the best ways to learn a foreign language is to move to the country where it’s spoken. If you’re learning Spanish, you would move to Spain, Argentina or any other Spanish-speaking country. If you’re learning Japanese, you would move to Japan, and so on. In theory, those should be the ideal places to learn our target language: the country where it’s spoken by everybody. I haven’t tried this approach yet, but I tried something similar. Between 2020 and 2022, I spent a lot of time learning and practicing German and Italian in Argentina and Uruguay. And in June 2023, I had the opportunity to visit Germany, Austria, and Italy for the first time. Here I’d like to share with you my experience using and speaking German and Italian in Berlin, Vienna, and Rome.[Read more…] about Speaking German and Italian Abroad
During the last week of December (and the first one of January), I further explored the voice preparation with the spaghetti exercise described in the Week 11 article. I tried looking for more ease and a sense of freedom in the voice production. I had a number of good experiences in that regard. In fact, I think that going through just a few of these new experiences during a multiple-month project can make a big difference. That’s how we learn, right? By trying something different when things are not working out as expected (and, in this case, I knew what was not going well and was looking for alternatives).
That’s why it is so important to work with a teacher, a coach, or find some kind of mentor. It saves us time. With the guidance of an experienced person, you can get there in less time and with less unnecessary struggle. Learning a new skill is always challenging. Why should we make it even more difficult? I know that many people like the idea of learning on their own. I totally get that. And I even support it (I do it myself as well, all the time). But self-learning has its limits. Especially in fields where you cannot tell what you’re doing well and wrong and need external feedback. Learning how to sing, in my opinion, is one of these skills.[Read more…] about Singing in German (Week 13) – Wrap-up of the Project
This may sound like something extremely obvious, but many times we forget completely about it: we sing as we train, as we practice. That means that, in order to be able to achieve a specific result when we sing a song, we need to practice that a good deal consistently. We need to train our muscles and our mind to get whatever we’re looking for. And that can take time. Because of that, is important to be patient 😊 .
The attitude we bring to our practice sessions also plays a role in this learning process. According to my voice teacher during this skill building project, ideally, we should practice as if we were meditating (with the same focus and mindfulness), or as if we were in a music performance. We don’t want to practice carelessly or just go through the motions. Practicing carefully and mindfully can make a difference over time.[Read more…] about Singing in German (Week 12) – We Sing As We Train
As I mentioned before in this series, many of the exercises with do in class with Patrick exert an indirect influence on certain parts of the vocal tract. One example I mentioned in the past was the act of yawning or sobbing. Both take the larynx down and are good resources to have an experience of what we’re looking for (i.e. bring the larynx down). We don’t need to do anything else. When we yawn, the larynx automatically goes down. It cannot be any other way!
If you yawn and slightly close your eyes (as when sobbing), you will notice that the larynx goes even a little more down. You can try it yourself, putting one hand on your throat and yawning (and then closing a bit your eyes). You’ll notice a downwards movement at the level of the larynx. That might be one of the reasons why opera singers use that facial gesture when singing. Because it helps in keeping the larynx down (and that’s exactly what we want!).[Read more…] about Singing in German (Week 11) – Taking the Larynx Down
I heard about the importance of good breathing support (appoggio) since the first time I started learning how to sing, more than 10 years ago. But knowing something for a long time doesn’t guarantee that we actually use or act on that knowledge. That’s how I feel about appoggio. It’s not something new, but at the same time, it feels like a wholly new experience. At least, in the context of the singing lessons I’m taking this quarter.
My current teacher told me from the get-go that singing training is, in part, muscle training. Especially when we speak about the breathing technique. It’s like going to the gym, but without evident external changes 😄. And that’s exactly what makes it so elusive. We don’t see the muscles and the parts of the body that we want to strengthen or get more control over. It’s all trial and error. This is ‘the unseen’ in singing training.[Read more…] about Singing in German (Week 10) – The Unseen in Singing Training
This week I continued practicing the falsetto with and without last week’s song. During the lesson, my teacher shared a few clarifications on how to practice the falsetto. I learned that it was okay to go high, but not really high (beyond the high C). I discovered that it was such a thing as a low falsetto register (I never knew about that). My teacher showed me how that sounded with his voice, and then I tried it myself (you can listen to a recording down below).
In the lesson, we also tried different vocalizations derived from the ‘I’ to ‘O’ exercise. I found it interesting that, as he showed me the exercises, he changed from ‘I’ to ‘O’ very quickly. Somehow, I thought I should stay there for longer. My teacher also mentioned that this register was important to round up the voice in general. Now that I know that it goes lower than what I thought, this makes a lot of sense.[Read more…] about Singing in German (Week 9) – Falsetto (part 2)