There were a few things that came up in the comments of my last post that I’d been wanting to address anyway, so here’s rather disjointed post covering a variety of topics!
Re: practice rooms at the Met. Yes, I knew they were an option, and I thought about it, But in the time it would have taken to get to the house, find the rooms in the labyrinth, figure out which ones I was allowed to use, etc., I don’t think I would have saved any more time. Someday soon, when I don’t have any impending duties, I’ll figure out the lay of that land so that next time I can just go straight there.
Re: warm-ups/vocalizes/ “a day in my voice.” This is a huge topic, and a hard one to pin down. Some days I can sing for hours with no warm-up at all, some days I rely heavily on the numbered exercises that I’ve been given by my teacher, and some days I just play around with vocalizes from past teachers or books or colleagues. I’ve only recently – with Mark, my current teacher – had any kind of warm-up system or series of exercises. Before now, I had never had a routine, per se, that I relied upon to prepare me for singing. I see myself needing more stamina in the upcoming years, as I (hopefully) start rehearsing and performing bigger roles, so I’m in the process of developing a routine, paces through which I can take myself in order to know that I’ll be ready for a big night. More on this as it develops…
Re: visualization. I think I first read about visualization as a performance tool in the context of sports. An athlete (a high jumper, maybe?) was injured, but wanted to compete in an upcoming competition. Every day, she would sit with her broken leg (or whatever) and see herself in her mind’s eye performing her jumps perfectly. She would feel the air as she moved through it, smell the chalk (rosin?), feel the pole in her hands, hear the sounds of her shoes on the track and the spring of the pole as she lets go, feel herself landing on the mat having cleared the bar. When the time came to actually move her body through the feat, her mind knew what to expect, knew what to do, and she was successful. I don’t remember if she won, but that’s not really the point. I’m fairly certain I read about this in a high school biology class, and the concept stuck. I later read a similar story of a cellist who used visualization to maintain his proficiency during months on “injured reserve.”
A couple of years ago, it came up again as I was talking with WT, a baritone who said he had visualized every aspect of his debut with a large company. He was a cover for a lead, and at night after rehearsals, he would lie in his bed and do just what the athlete above did. You know in movies, when sometimes they show you the scene from the perspective of a certain character, as if you were looking through his eyes? That’s what this is. WT saw his colleagues, the stage, the conductor, all from the vantage point of the character. He said he even imagined the smells of the stage: perspiration, dust, etc.. So when the call came to go on, he knew he was ready.
I hope that makes some sense… ask again if I can make something any clearer…
Ariadne: Learning staging/blocking is going to get its own post, complete with pictures. Stay tuned!
All of this comment-commenting gives me an idea. Since I’ve been getting a fair number of questions from readers recently, I think I’m going to start a new “feature:” The Question of the Week. If you have questions – about a singing career in general (training, logistics, rep, etc.), about opera as an art form (I’ll probably refer to you someone else!) or about my experience (generally speaking) – send me an email or leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer one or two a week. (I first had this idea a few months ago, inspired by a series of questions sent to me by a young baritone I met at a masterclass. Now seems like a good time to get it going…)