learning formal and informal

I got my BSc after being encouraged at high school into STEM. But it was not always so. In fact at intermediate I was constantly given bad grades because my cursive was not exactly what was desired.

I did though do very well on externally graded reading comprehension. I think there was a two fold effect there. One was I was free to read as quickly as I liked- and I liked to read so I read quickly but also retained and understood a lot, because I got so much practice early on- and it was absolutely free of judgement of someone who was teaching me every single day.

I am pretty goal focused. But also very learning focused, I enjoy the journey as well. So sometimes it helped a lot to hook in to a formal system and sometimes it meant I wound up being judged not on my ability, not on my work ethic, but entirely on me. As a person.

My voice is a classic example of all of this. I have trained since I was 13 to sing classically.

My voice is very bright. I can’t remember when I developed my vibrato but I remember the moment I managed a real trill (between two notes- and it was on a walk home from school practicing with my headphones on, it was on a petrol station court of all things.) I also had to record and playback every single lesson so I know what my voice sounds like from the outside.

So for a very long time I was being molded into a more traditional lyric soprano- really, really, not me, not in terms of what I like nor what my voice does. I feel a little lot like my musical choices were not considered serious enough and yet I was instinctively looking at music that was suited to my voice and me all at once.

So that conflict lead to me simply not being directed in the way my voice really wants to go. And that was for years. Multiple teachers, schools. It was not that I am a bad student, or have a bad voice, it’s that I simply was not allowed to sing what brought out my potential enough to bring out that potential

And then I got a recording of My Favourite Broadway (Linda Eder singing Man of La Mancha…) Hey Mr Producer! and Bernadette Peters singing Unexpected Song and Being Alive and.. why on earth was I not recognised as having her voice type!

I also had a recording of Maria Prior singing a range of songs and that too was a revelation- again I could mimic some of that because again similar voice type.

So that was great. And once I was able to mimic voices that were like mine I was able to apply a lot of what was taught in imagery into practice and whoosh! My voice became my own. No use asking me to imagine something that isn’t real either. I needed to learn phonetics and the specifics of muscles and once I could feel what all the physical stuff is I understood why I was asked to imagine things.

I can do well in imagining stuff outside- like one of the cheats to holding arms for ballet is to imagine beach balls under each arm. I also imagine I’m brushing the back of my hand along the line it is following so I keep my hands “soft” and not full of tension.

And I started to have fun with my voice. I started belting. I started getting my Glinda on. I snuck a few Elphie songs too (my fave song though requires too much gear shifting but I am determined- No Good Deed.)

And then Frozen happened. It annoyed me at first and then I realised even my voice journey connects us.

And in the same way I feel magical in my Ice gown, like never before ever in any other work, I’ve learned even more about my voice and what it can do, and am enjoying it.

Let It Go is a great song for me. So easily in my range- and that is in my belt voice. Which as already hinted at is quite bright because that’s what my voice does and so do the singers who I would put in the same category.

Into the Unknown however is utterly perfect in every single way. If you listen carefully you can hear how closely to the mic Idina is.

For the third “un-KNOWN” in each chorus she steps back to avoid blowing out the mic and to keep the volume close. When you watch someone in a concert and they pull the mic away it’s for the same reason. But you can hear the empty space as it changes the quality.

I need to do the same. The only part of that note that is difficult is the specific distance between “un” and “known.” And the specific vowel consonant vowel combo. That n? Eep. It sort of is like.. “into the ah-NAH-UH-OH-OWN to make that leap.

And nerves. Because I am very lucky that the note is not even pushing my range but it’s a really sudden change and I am still nervous about making that much noise.

Anyway. It’s also a really amazing song full stop when you later learn exactly what is going on.

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