I’m participating in the Classical Singer competition here in New York City in a few days. I have prepared three arias, one in French called Chacun le sait from La Fille du Régiment, an Italian one called Ah, non credea…ah, non giunge! from La Sonnambula, and one of my favorite German arias, Mein Herr Marquis, from Die Fledermaus.
Yesterday, I went to see Mikhail, one of my coaches. He is an amazing pianist, coach, and recording engineer, and I knew he would be a fantastic choice to help me whip these arias into shape for the competition. The aria that I wanted to focus on during this particular coaching was Chacun le sait, since Mikhail is Belgian and his native tongue is French.
As we went through the aria, he noticed I wasn’t correctly preparing when about to sing each phrase. I was taking quick, short, high breaths, instead of low, slow, deep breaths that are ideal for properly executing sound. It is so important to use ALL of one’s body when singing, and I feel like it’s easy as a coloratura soprano (I sing the highest notes in the operatic repertoire) to forget to use your whole physical self when reaching those top notes. Like with any skill in life, sometimes it is important to slow down and pay attention to each step taken, no matter how minor that detail may seem. The quiet breaths taken before a musical phrase are extremely important. They are the preparation for the phrase itself and they support the beautiful sound emanating from the singer’s mouth. Once I slowed down my breathing while paying attention to the seemingly minor details of each inhalation,the notes leaving my body sounded fuller, felt easier to create, and were clearly more supported overall. In taking those short, high, breaths, I was failing to prepare. Therefore, I was preparing to fail. I was short-changing myself and not allowing the real beauty inside of me to come out.
This lesson can be applied to so many other facets of life. Whether it’s a student studying for that big exam, a new employee getting enough rest the night before his or her first day at work, or a chef making sure he or she has all of the correct ingredients and measurements. Once the preparation is mastered, success can be achieved.
Now, wish me luck on Saturday. =)