It’s been a few weeks since I wrote about making friends with my voice again.
I’ve been working on it, with super-difficult exercises nearly every day since then and things are going well.
It’s not just diaphragmic support that is the key, (so to speak) but resonance as well.
I do my exercises on an ‘Aw’ (like Hawthorne) which creates a nice big space within the mouth to ‘ping’. You could also start with ‘hoo’.
Try to repeat this many times.
I start with 2 note exercises, c-e, d-f, e-g up through a scale and then back down.
I make them as staccato as possible, either on ‘haw’ with lots of ‘h’ or, with a hard palate resonance.
This is easily done, by relaxing your tongue and placing the tip behind your front teeth.
If you pant like a dog, keeping your tongue in this position, it pushes the resonance into the hard palate.
If you hold the note, sustaining the tone, try to do this on a low note, making the resonance spread across the whole of the hard palate.
Soft palate resonance, or closed palate resonance is based on the sound of ‘ng’. Say the word ‘sing’ and hold onto the ‘ing’ and see what happens.
The resonance should spread across the palate and you should feel it from ear to ear.
The two note exercises are just the start. After this, 3 note (triplets) in various variations and all the way to 8 notes.
The 8 note exercises are written out in hemi demi semiquavers.
It is important to do these exercises as staccato as possible, repeating them as legato runs.
After this, extended scales. I can sing scales from C below middle C to the c (high c ) two octaves above middle C.
It’s hard work – as this means a great many exercises on scales and variations of note patterns.
If I start low, this means more work for the diaphragm. It’s taken some time to build up the strength, but I have full control over the body of the muscle. I can squeeze final notes out from between my ribs. It’s overdrive.
So, the next goal is to be able to sing the big Handel operatic arias, such as ‘Dopo Notte’ from Ariodante. Una Voce Poco fa’ by Rossini is fine – but the big aria from ‘La Cenerentola’ (Cindarella) Non Piu Mesta is the next objective. This may not be possible, as Rossini wrote it for a younger singer.
I’m moving into the mature repertoire – my great heroine Isabella, from The Italian Girl in Algiers. Her arias are less demanding on the mature voice.
Mozart is a distinct possibility now. Not Cherubino – who’d want a 50 year old woman pretending to be a teenage boy? No way.
I can sing for two hours now without excessive fatigue. I would like to sing a programme of English Song and also a recital of Spanish Art songs. Granados is calling to me, De Falla is already there and I feel as though my voice is secure. It is very important to be as strong as possible to support the sound and with Multiple Sclerosis, this is difficult. I can train for physical fatigue, but what about that invisible, silent foe, cognitive fatigue?
We shall see. Fingers crossed.