Singing in German will be the last skill building project of 2021. The idea of taking lessons of something in German was appealing to me from the get-go. In the last two projects (Cooking in Italian and Pen Drawing in German) I had used videos and an e-book, respectively. For that reason, this time I wanted more interaction. Also, as I started the year taking chess lessons in Italian, it made sense to me to close the year in the same fashion 😀.
During the next three months, I’ll be practicing German Lieder, that is, classical songs in German. This is part of what’s commonly known as classical singing or lyrical singing. The German Lied as a genre is mostly associated with music compositions for voice created during the nineteenth century (think of composers such as Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Mahler, and Strauss).
My goal with this project is to practice every day for around 20 minutes (except for the day I take my weekly lesson). It could be a combination of breathing exercises, vocalizations, or singing songs in German paying attention to the things I need to improve. Regarding the repertoire, these are some of the songs I’d like to learn in the coming months:
- Wenn ich in deine Augen seh’, by Robert Schumann (from the Dichterliebe)
- Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen, by Robert Schumann (from the Dichterliebe)
- Der Neugierige, by Franz Schubert (from Die schöne Müllerin)
I’m open to changing one of these if I find something more compelling (or if my teacher suggests a different Lied).
Finding a Voice Teacher
How do we find a teacher that helps us learn singing in a foreign language? I searched classical voice teachers based in Berlin, on www.superprof.de. I already knew www.superprof.com.ar (the Argentinian version), and while googling teachers I came across the German version. I thought it could be a good idea to schedule at least three singing lessons with different teachers and continue with the one I liked the most. In the end, I reached out to four different teachers, but I was only able to arrange lessons with two of them. I had a very good first impression of both of them, but I could only pick one. That’s how I found my current teacher: Patrick Schramm (https://www.vocalstudioberlin.com/). Thanks, Patrick! 😀
The First Week of Practice
During the first lesson (October 4th) we got to know each other and talked about the fundamentals of voice technique: the breath. We went over different exercises to explore all the possibilities available when we sing (focusing on the lateral expansion that takes place just below the ribs, and the sensations we get in the middle of the back while breathing. The idea is to get a constant airflow that helps us sing whatever we need to sing with the right effort.
We also chose the first Lied to work on: Wenn ich in deine Augen seh’, by Robert Schumann (from the Dichterliebe). The question is: which key should I sing it in? In the past, I’ve been classified as Baritone and Tenor, although I usually sang the tenor part in choirs. Patrick says I might be a tenor, and that’s the direction he would be taking. At the moment, though, I’m practicing with piano accompaniments for middle voices (baritone versions). For example, I’m practicing Wenn ich in deine Augen seh’ in the key of F major (instead of the G major key, intended for tenors). In F major I have a high F already, which is plenty to deal with for now! 😄
I’m keeping a log of how many days I practice between classes. If I practice for around 20 minutes (or several short sessions, let’s say 5-10 minutes) I count it as a practice day. In the first week, I logged three days of practice plus the lesson.
New Vocabulary & Listening
For this project, I’m going to create new cards using unknown words and phrases heard in my private singing lessons. I also intend to read articles, short books, and watch YouTube videos on singing (in German). Instead of forcing myself to add new cards every day or every week, this time I’m going to add them only as I need them. That could be 2 cards in a week, and 30 the next one 🙃.
The biggest part of my listening takes place during the weekly lesson. Fortunately, Patrick is fine with me recording the lesson. This way I can watch it or listen to it again afterward.
That’s all for now! 😊