One of the recent challenges I faced during this week of practice was connected with singing ‘A’ vowels in the high register. After talking about this with my voice teacher, he mentioned that is a common challenge for most students. Good to know that! 😄 But knowing others have the same problem shouldn’t be enough of a reason to get contented. There’s work to do. Opportunities for improvement!
During my daily practice, I noticed that I had it especially easy with the ‘I’ and the ‘E’. That’s one of the reasons I decided to stick mainly to those vowels in my vocalizations. Using just these vowels makes it easier to keep a forward sound and avoid the pitfalls of singing with the throat (which I still do!). I also noticed that when I keep that forward sound, I tend to rely more on a good appoggio (better breathing support).
The highlight of our weekly lesson this time was the exercise on vowel transformation. We went from ‘I’ to ‘O’ and then to ‘A’. The goal was to change the vowels I was singing, but to keep them more or less in the same place/position. So, I had to listen very carefully and focus hard on maintaining the forward quality of the starting sound. I would change twice, but the placement should stay the same.
In the same lesson, we talked about the darkened ‘A’. When classical singers sing the ‘A’ vowel in the high register, we hear not the same sound of a regular ‘A’ as when we are speaking. It’s noticeably different. The ‘A’ changes way more than any other vowel when going higher. That’s what makes it especially challenging. During the lesson, when trying to sing this darkened ‘A’, it was like it barely sounded like an ‘A’ to my ears. It’s like you’re singing something you know sounds wrong (ie. different from what you’re used to).
The Sixth Week of Practice
This week I learned that the vowel transformation exercises are best practiced in the medium register. There’s no need to go very high to get a sense of these transformations. Actually, as I mentioned earlier, the ‘O’ and especially the ‘A’ sound are not quite there in the higher voice for me. I don’t have an experience of how this should sound like. That’s one of the reasons why this week I focused on practicing the vowel transformation below the passaggio (in the chest register).
During the last lesson, we’ve also gone through the lyrics of Morgen, by Strauss. Patrick mentioned the importance of connecting the vowels and singing with legato. In German, this is much more difficult than in Italian (as the words have more consonants). In my daily practice I also paid attention to word endings in words such as ‘und’ and ‘wird’ (I want the ‘d’ ending to sound like a ‘t’).
Below you can find a couple of short clips where I try the vowel transformation exercise. The goal is to keep the sound forward and maintain more or less the same starting place (where I sing the ‘I’).
In the first one I go from ‘I’ to ‘O’:
In the second clip I go from ‘I’ to ‘O’ to ‘A’. At the end you can hear me saying ‘Irgendwie, es hört sich nicht als ein A. Es hört sich anders’ (Somehow, it doesn’t sound like an A. It sounds different) 😄:
And in this one, you can hear what I meant by the ‘-d’ endings in words such as und and wird. Note how the first time I pronounce it more like a ‘d’ (especially the wird), and the second time, after Patrick’s feedback, it sounds stronger:
Und morgen wird die Sonne wieder scheinen
That’s all for now! 😊