Or, you know, a refrigerator and a piano.
On to what I was going to blog about before the piano arrived in all its glory (and seriously, you’d think it would be a big production to get a piano up to the fifth floor of a building, but actually, two strong guys did it in about ten minutes).
So yesterday I had an important audition. Not so much important in terms of my life overall, but important in that it was for an important company run by important people. And…it could really have been better. Some of that was my fault–I was singing all old repertoire and just couldn’t find the motivation to make it great. But the lion’s share of the blame (because that’s the thing I enjoy, placing the blame) goes to the company. The e-mail they sent me said that my audition time was at 1 PM (oh, all right, 13h). So I left my dorm at 11:45, and all of the powers that be of public transportation conspired against me. The RER was delayed for three trains, so I ran to get on the tram, which took a further seven minutes to arrive, then I waited for the #7, and again for the #5, and then it’s just a long ride up to the conservatory where I was auditioning. I arrived there at 12:50, freaking out about being late for my first real audition in Europe…and it turned out that my CALL TIME was 1 PM, but the actual audition was 2:20. So I waited. There were no warm up rooms, and nobody knew what was going on, so everybody who had been called at 1 was just kind of loitering around the audition room, where there were no chairs. And then I was told that I was being paired with a pianist who was also auditioning, which was a lovely little added layer of stress (not only did I have to worry about how my audition was going, but I had to think about the pianist as well–not that I wouldn’t have the pianist’s comfort in mind in a normal audition, but it’s different if they’re paying your pianist to accompany you). Anyway, then it was over–five minutes in the audition room for nearly two hours of waiting–and I treated myself to a piece of cake at the conservatory café with my friend John.
I went home, determined to lie down and close my eyes for a few minutes, but that didn’t really work. So I got up, got on the train and went to my voice lesson. I was exhausted–and it is so hard to muster a smile when you’re that tired, which is ironic since so much of my technique stuff depends on smiling. I explained to Madame what had happened at the audition, we did some light vocalizing, and then had a truly stellar lesson. If I have ever doubted the restorative powers of a great voice lesson, I never will again.
Interesting thought about yesterday’s lesson, though. It’s amazing how sometimes I understand and practice a vocalise in a certain way, and then Madame puts a different spin on it which makes it about a million times more effective. For instance, she gave me an exercise in minor a few weeks ago. I thought that it was for piano, for soft singing, but truly, I was finding that incredibly difficult in my practice sessions. I asked Madame about it yesterday, and as we worked on it, it came to light that actually, the exercise is about diminuendo. Rather than starting it piano and having nowhere to go, it’s meant to be sung mezzo-forte so that you can get softer on the top note. Fascinating. The other vocalise we worked on was one that I had been singing with an eye toward stability–that is, even vibrato on all five vowels, on a single note. But yesterday we used it as a study in timbre–the same tone quality and depth of sound on every vowel. And after we had done that, the pieces we worked on turned out so much better. I’m not sure whether I really misunderstood it, or whether those exercises are just versatile enough to have several different purposes. Either way, it’s all fascinating and mysterious and I love it. Three cheers for singing and the endorphins it produces!
As I was on my way out the door, Madame came over to me and gave me a bone-crushing hug (which is kind of hilarious to contemplate since she is so tiny). She said to me, “C’était très bien. Je suis très contente.” That was very good. I am very happy. It makes me feel so great to know that my teacher likes to work with me. She records my lessons just like I do, and she listens to them in between; she has a folder with my name on it where she keeps her own copies of scores that I’m working on. I walked out into the chilly Paris evening ready to conquer the world, shielded only by my great-voice-lesson glow.