From professional chorus to soloist- an investigation

After participating in my last workshop which has run under the above title, Helen, an experienced professional chorus singer, sent me these words and kindly agreed for me to print them here:

The  workshop with Jenny Miller was, for me, truly a revelation, literally a ” breath of fresh air” in the sense that the exercises helped me reconnect with the instinctive, the embodied, the very primitive feeling we get which makes us love singing in the first place. I’m sure that the relaxing exercises helped me breathe more deeply and efficiently – no breath holding or fixing. I left as if “floating on air” because I’d allowed my breathing to become freer, less rigid and controlled. I had so much more energy and was on a high for days – high on oxygen and freedom of artistic expression. I loved the new feeling of my lungs expanding around my back and felt as if my centre of gravity was lowered; much more centred – akin to how one feels after a Yoga session but more relevant because of being always married with vocal sounds. When it came to the singing of Violetta’s Act 1 scena – I realised that my reliance on high heels to keep my body upright had actually only provided me with a false feeling of support. It was at first scary singing in flat shoes but became liberating – Jenny guided me skilfully in visualisations of Violetta in a Wedding Gown with Alfredo, to help me in how to start forming my subtexts for the Recitative. I felt as if I stopped being a singing machine, and started creating – or as I should say re-creating.

When I tackle new audition arias in the future or any solo music, I shall incorporate these exercises, so as to sing more freely in this quite new way. The workshop helped me re-discover the physical joy of singing. I’d often wondered why when one has to run around in an opera, almost to the point of being quite “out-of-breath” one still manages to sing, one doesn’t need to be rooted to one spot, perfectly poised – but poise often denotes rigidity. My quest for future singing will be the natural, free poise of singing “on the body”, and “on the breath” from an active, flowing body energy.

Dean Hearne

Dean Hearne, United Kingdom