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  • Christin Coffee Rondeau

Silent Practice

Updated: Jul 31, 2018

Have you been rendered voiceless by that nasty bug that's going around? No worries! There are still plenty of ways you can stay on top of your singing game, even while resting your instrument. Grab your music and a cup of tea, and settle in somewhere cozy! We're not going to make any sounds, but we ARE going to make some great music!

1) Check your text! Do you know the words that you're singing? If they're not in your primary language, have you done both a literal, word-for-word translation and a poetic translation? Is this reflected in your music so that as you practice, you know the meaning of every word?

2) Are you solid on all your rhythms? If there are any spots that have been problematic in your lessons, now is the time to sort them out. Try counting them, clapping them, tapping them, playing them on the piano or another instrument, mouthing them on "dee," or mouthing them on the text. See if you can keep the beat with your feet while patting or clapping the isolated rhythms.

3) Where are the technically challenging places in your music? Are there leaps that just don't feel right? Melismas that leave you breathless? Consider how you will prepare for those sections and literally rehearse that process in your body, whether that means changing how/where you inhale, how you think of directing the sound, or what vowel shape you will create.

4) Have you listened to recordings of your lessons to make sure you're incorporating all the concepts you and your teacher discussed? Make a list of the "big ideas" from your last four lessons and ponder how to implement them in your pieces.

5) How's your dramatic interpretation? Have you researched (or created) a backstory for what is going on, why the character is singing, and what the character wants? Create a "dramatic roadmap" for your character's emotional state at the beginning, middle, and end of the song. Practice gestures and facial expressions in a mirror to make sure you're conveying the ideas you think you are!

6) Listen! Pull up YouTube or Spotify and look up recordings of other singers (both ones you've heard of and ones who are new to you!) singing your pieces. What are you doing differently? What are you doing the same? Do you prefer a specific interpretation? Why or why not?

7) Read! Google your pieces! Who wrote them? When? Why? What was the original language? Did the composer write both the music and the text, or was it an existing poem that was later set to music? What year did the composer die? What were they known for? Did they write the piece for a specific singer or event? The more you know about the history of a piece, the more informed your performances choices can be.

8) Do some theory! Work ahead in your Full Voice Workbooks, or search for other theory/sight singing websites/apps.

9) Research a particular musical or opera that is of interest to you. Check Netflix, PBS, or YouTube for videos. If you're stumped on where to start, email your teacher and ask for recommendations.

10) Email your teacher and ask for recommendations of singers you should listen to or pieces you should learn. Create a Spotify playlist or Pandora station based on those recommendations, and keep it going in the background as you recuperate! Make a list of pieces you really love so that you can dive into them as soon as you're feeling better.

The colds that are going around this season are no joke, and it's never fun to be a sick singer. Hopefully, you'll be back to singing in no time, and until then, you can keep growing musically...whether or not you decide to leave the couch!

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