It is a short week and a compressed writing schedule here on the blog so…
Ritardando is such a lovely direction in music. It is a gradual slowing down. Aside from the dramatic affect, it also can teach us a lot about how to work on our singing.
Singers (and speakers actually) are usually more than ready to break our work into sections and work on elements as we explore our repertoire. What we don’t do often enough is just slow it all down.
Slow work makes rhythm more precise, pitches more secure, and diction more articulate. It forces one to understand the path between one note and the next, one vowel and the next. It makes better music because the magic of musical expression is always in those places in-between. How you navigate an element is what makes it music rather than the series of notes alone.
However slow you think is enough, go slower. I’m talking Martha Graham “Slow Walk” slow. If you are unfamiliar with this exercise, it is really simple. Martha Graham would have her dancers walk a short distance, sometimes outside, observing and reacting to the world around them. The catch was they had to do so in slow-motion, using their slowing heartbeat to mark the passage of time. In fact, she would ask them to move as if they shared a single heartbeat. A city block could take an hour, or two, as each part of the body embraced the slow articulation of movement.
I invite you to make the gesture of air to sound, the equivalent of a full articulation of your foot slowly making contact with the ground – as if for the first time. To slow the sound, while remaining engaged with it, and connected to your heartbeat. Your voice is there, in those spaces. Added bonus, you will never doubt a pitch, rhythm, or vowel again if you embrace this type of work.
Try it and let me know how it goes.
Gina Razón is the Founder and CEO at GROW Voice LLC, a full-service verbal communication studio in Boston’s Back Bay. She has over two decades of experience as a teacher of voice and speech, is a communication and change facilitator, and is a voraciously curious voice user. Gina has worked professionally as a classical singer for over a decade and more recently as a professional public speaker. For more information on the studio or to book Gina visit www.growvoice.com.