Last Wednesday, 12th October, at the Royal College of Music, London, the vocal department organised a Masterclass with Brindley Sherratt that took place at the Britten Theatre. It was fabulous to see the auditorium packed with an audience of students of all ages. I use the word student as I am often reminded during my studies that we never stop learning so perhaps even those members of the public who attended the event for entertainment, a little diversity or just plain curiosity will all have taken something away from the presentation that they probably had not thought about before.
For me, the main points of interest that stood out and that I can’t wait to explore further were:
- To gain a beautiful legato line, one should carry the voice so that all the vowels are given enough time to sound.
- Try not to push the voice and demand it to project. Simply let the voice out of the body.
- To relax and sing into your whole voice whether at pianissimo (very quiet) and at forte (loud).
I particularly found these points interesting because they were not necessarily strict rules but ideas from which I could build my foundations, on which I can strive to improve my vocal technique. Learning how to sing in an operatic style can be very challenging as you often have to unpick someone else’s interpretation of how they achieve proper singing technique. The process can often seem frustrating when all you want to do is to try to fix a mistake or bad habit. But patience in itself is a skill that you need to develop and which enables you to become a better problem solver, allowing you to try out different methods inspired by what you observe. By experimenting and applying these various techniques, it is possible to find a solution which allows you to progress and ultimately become a better singer and performer. Often it can feel like swings and roundabouts, but when you are successful it is very fulfilling, you get an immense sense of satisfaction and personal understanding that perhaps you can pass on to someone else for them to explore.
It is always thought provoking to listen to other Artists and having moved to London I have found that there are many opportunities to learn from those professionals who live and perform in this vast and diverse City. On Friday evening I went to a talk at the Royal Opera House called SILENCED! Art against Authority. It was the first ever Student Insight event held at the Royal Opera House which is an event open strictly for students (of any academic focus). The evening took on the form of a debate chaired by John Hutnyk who along with a panel of six artists discussed their personal perspectives around the suppression and censorship of art around the world.
They began by using videos and a recitation from one of the artist’s works, then flowing seamlessly into discussions and then questions from the audience. Each member of the panel relayed their experiences of how they had used their art to highlight what to them were problematic areas of modern society. It was enlightening to see so much individualism and self-expression, I found the evening stimulating and it encouraged me to be true to myself and to present the stories and poetry that are important to me.