It is one thing to sing your line to a piano part or to a CD. Often when we sing to other music we are able to sing freer because we can loose our inhibitions somewhat in the accompaniment, but we can also be using the accompaniment as a crutch for our ear…
I was hit by this the other day when I was at a rehearsal for an upcoming concert of new music. The piece I am singing is new to my voice and I have been learning it by playing the piano part of the voice out on the piano and singing to it. Since the piece was so new I hadn’t had much time to look at the orchestration to see what everyone else was going to be playing while I was to be singing my line.
I really felt insecure on my part at the rehearsal. My vocal line was no where to be heard except coming out of my mouth. Nothing in the accompaniment played or really supported my part. My part had been written like one of the instruments in the chamber ensemble, standing completely on its own like the flute, violin, or viola.
I hadn’t sung something like this in a while and honestly I had forgotten to prepare correctly for it. Often I am singing to orchestration or piano accompaniment that is supporting my voice part, playing predictable chords underneath and giving me a real cushion to the melody.
I was able to pull off the rehearsal, but I was not secure on my line. I immediately came home and “re-practiced” the piece singing out my lines acapella and playing the piano parts of the other instruments learning their cues. It was not a completely pitch centered line when I first started and I kept having to check my starting notes, but after a bit, I was prepared.
So don’t forget, not only should you learn your music with accompaniment, you should turn off the accompaniment and sing through your lines making sure that you are secure on your intervals in your phrases and your starting notes on new ones. This will give your line more beauty as you are more confident to sing them correctly without any sort of crutch. (I forgot to head my own advice on this one, but I am glad I got through it so I can be prepared better next rehearsal, and hoping help you all avoid the same situation!)
A practiced singer is a professional one!
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