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I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, efficiency is a beautiful thing. Working less and being more accurate is a beautiful thing. On the other hand, the kind of work one has to do sometimes when it isn't efficient can be very interesting. Maybe the ear will be less developed if the mouthpiece is taking care of things the ear had to listen to? Do we pay a price? Do we exchange something else very valuable for the efficient invention that will now do the work for us? Is there any value in doing something the "hard" way? When I first learned about ChiRunning -- which purports to be a more efficient way of running -- I was excitedly telling my Dad about how efficient it was, and my Dad said, "But I don't want that efficiency, because I want to build the strength in my muscles," or something like that. It made me wonder about efficiency for efficiency's sake, vs. efficiency for other reasons. In the case of a singer or player of musical instrument, efficiency can be desired in order to prevent repetitive use-type injuries, perhaps. Or maybe efficiency can contribute to longevity? Maybe efficiency gives an edge in competition? Perhaps a greater number of people are able to play accurately more of the time? With greater efficiency are we then freed to be more expressive? Will it take less time to become technically proficient and get a person out there professionally sooner? All kinds of questions. Another set of questions the invention of the mouthpiece brings to mind comes from the way it reminds me of the claims made by shoe companies to runners. You can run more efficiently and safely with these ergonomically, scientifically designed shoes! However, I have recently discovered the joys of a more primitive kind of running, barefoot running. I found out that once I removed the gadget that was supposedly facilitating easier running (the shoes), I had to learn all kinds of things, some of which was pay attention to feedback that my feet were receiving from the ground, listen to my body more, etc... New inventions and designs that aid efficiency that free us up for other things are wonderful depending on what a person wants to get out of his/her musical experience/journey.
That was such a helpful and enlightening demonstration. It helps me to understand and diagnose that I definitely became a habitual adductor while belting out musical theater tunes in high school. That adduction kept me from accessing my high range for so many years, and then when I finally did have some high notes, the adduction continued to keep me from singing freely and comfortably up there. It also helps explain why it took so long to have natural vibrato appear, and why, when the vibrato did start to happen, it was kind of big and wobbly. Your demo of the abduction also helps me to understand how some of the choristers surrounding me manage to produce that choir-boy-like straight tone I hear all around me in the choir. BTW, you sound gorgeous on your correct examples (the "classical" and "stylistically correct" ones).
Toggle Commented Jul 10, 2012 on The Straight and Narrow Path at The Liberated Voice
I always thought it would be a good idea for a whole choir to train more than just singing together, to work out together like a team -- meet to jog in the park couple of times a week, etc... A choir will sometimes do all that hard work on the music while sitting, but then the concert comes and everyone gets fatigued standing up for the dress rehearsals, and their backs and shoulders start hurting and get stiff from holding their choir folders full of music up. I think it's hard for everyone to sound good when their upper backs are tense and their feet are hurting during the concert. The sound coming out of the body is going to reflect the way the body feels!
As an avocational singer, I don't have to face this issue at things like auditions, but I would prefer to use copies of my music to work with in lessons and even at my own piano, for the very reason you state about how flat the music lays. I even would prefer to have copies of my choral music so it fits in my binder better than those little choral editions. These rules seem very cumbersome to me.
Toggle Commented Oct 20, 2010 on Sheet Music & Copyright Law at The Liberated Voice
Thanks for this great post. I was going to ask you if that was the Anatomy Coloring Book and then I got to the end of the article and -- lo and behold -- it was! I already have benefited in my singer life from trying to understand the anatomy behind my instrument, and it does take time and effort, like you mention above. Even though I've gotten a fair grasp on things over the years, I look forward to reading your series because it can always come clearer and there's always gaps in one's knowledge.
I must have been meant to absorb this concept -- the "chunk it up" concept -- because it's the second time I've read it today. The first time this way of working was mentioned was in a book I'm reading The Practicing Mind: Bringing Discipline and Focus Into Your Life by Thomas M. Sterner. I've kind of already been approaching things this way, but hearing it both in the book, and now on your blog makes me think that I must continue more specifically in this manner. Thanks!
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Jul 13, 2010