“THERE IS ONLY ONE THING A SINGER HAS TOTAL CONTROL OVER AND THAT IS THE PREPARATION OF THEIR REPERTOIRE”
THERE ARE MANY VARIABLES IN HOW SUCCESSFUL A SINGER IS IN THEIR PURSUIT TO BECOME A SUCCESSFU SINGER OVER WHICH WE HAVE NO CONTROL – the success of an audition; the winning of a competition; scholarship award; good or bad reviews, etc.
the one thing we do have control is how we prepare.
there is no one approach to go about learning a new aria, song, role, etc. but it requires an orderly way of organizing the speciic elements that make up a piece of music. A disordered mind results in a disordered performance.
each singer will choose what approach works best for them. but it cannot be emphasised enough that the successful singer is the prepared sing.
maria callas had a method when learning new works which she called “the wedding cake”. it required
her to learn the various layers of the piece – rhythm,
vocal line, text, dynamics, etc. .
one way of using this concept is to look individually and slowly at all these elements that make up the music and text.
Here are some possibilities to consider:
first layer: learn the rhthym of the piece – not only your vocal line but the entire piece – prelude, interlude, postlude. there is no need to sing it. one could just mark it or humm it. but finding the metronome within you is important. it is the overall rhythmic structure of the work that you must solidify. you will become your own conductor
second layer: what key is it written in? learn the notes correctly right from the beginning. it is a waste of money and time to have to always go back to correct a wrong note or notes. learn it right the first time and you will move on to the next layer with a sense of security .
THIRD LAYER: THE LANGUAGE – THIS IS A TWO PART PHASE:
FIRST – THE EXACT MEANING OF THE WORDS AND THE SYNTAX OF THE PHRASE (TIME CONSUMING WHEN SINGING IN A LANGUAGE THAT IS NOT YOUR MOTHER TONGUE).
AND SECOND: THE CORRECT PRONUNCIATION OF THAT LANGUAGE. AGAIN, THIS TAKES ENORMOUS PATIENCE AND
TIME TO GET IT RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING OF YOUR PREPARATIONS.
THE NEXT LAYERS ARE NOW READY TO BE PREPARED:
FOURTH LAYER – DYNAMICS. THIS IS A STEP THAT IS OFTEn NEGLECTED BY THE SINGER. TOO OFTEN WE DO NOT KNOW THE MEANING OF THE DYNMIC PHRASES SET DOWN BY THE COMPOSER, I.E. MESSA DI VOCE; SUBITO PIANO; SFORZANDO; COLLA VOCE, ETC. EVEN IF WE DO KNOW THE MEANING OF THE DYNAMIC PHRASEs TOO OFTEN A SINGER DOES NOT PAY ENOUGH ATTENTION TO OBSERVING THEM.
A TRIED AND TRUE way OF MOVING ON IS TO SING THE
MELODY LINE ON ONE VOWEL AND TO SAY THE WORDS ON ONE NOTE, OBSERVING THE CORRECT RHYTHM OF THE COMPOSER . IE. WHERE ARE THE UPBEATS, THE DOWNBEATS. ETC.
“FIND THE MEANING BEHIND THE WORDs” was also a maria callas philosophy. the emotional content of the music and text will come to life for the audience and, of course, for the singer.
BY THIS POINT THE NEW WORK WILL BE CLOSE TO BEING MEMORIZED AS YOU HAVE BEEN STUDYING ALL ITS ASPECTS CAREFULLY .
IT IS ONLY THEN THAT A SINGER IS ABLE TO “TAKE OWNERSHIP” OF THE PIECE.
this type of careful patience in preparing a new work, or relearning one`s current repertoire, allows the singer to face all the other variables of auditioning and performing with a sense of security and freedom.
it is well worth the time and effort. it is what makes the truly successful artist.