Friday, May 25, 2012

Book Review: Great Singers on Great Singing

Great Singers on Great Singing
By Jerome Hines

I have not finished reading this book yet, but I thought I'd review it anyway, since I am not sure when I will finish it. And that is with the fact that I am kind of reading 9 books now at one go.

The book started off well, and it was quite interesting to read what the singers have to say about some of the basics of singing. The author, Jerome Hines, interviewed about 40 opera singers to write this book, a chapter for everyone of them. He tries to find out several common things, namely breathing technique, the passagio of passage in the voice, vocalising and warming up, support, open throat.

I don't attend or listen to opera much, but I did learn some useful things reading into their accounts and views on singing.

For example:

"The voice starts in the mind, not in the body." This is very true, Joanna, our Grace Notes conductor always ask us to think of the note first, of how it should sound before singing it.

"No gasping...ever!" This is very interesting because if you notice most of the pop singers these days, their breathing is so loud that it is disconcerting. My husband blamed it on me as he now could not listen to Kat Deluna sing without noticing her loud breathing. The other singer I found with extremely loud breathing is Lea Michele, who plays Rachel in the Glee series.

"We all have a little phlegm in the morning from sleep, which disappears by midday." No wonder! We at Grace Notes finds it hard when we have to sing in the wee hours of the mornings when we were invited to sing in church services.

"The piano you cannot learn." I am saddened to read this, that "a real good piano...a head sound, this you have to have. You have to be born with it." Christine, my fellow Grace Noter, sing high notes in piano (soft and quiet tone) very well, which I can't, however much I try. Now I sadly know why.

However, when I got to the middle of the book, I lost interest. Even though each of the singers have different views on their technique, being an amateur in singing, it becomes quite repetitive to me.

But finish it I will, the one thing that will motivate me is the chapter on the late Luciano Pavarotti that I have not read. But then again, it is only because of all the singers interviewed, he is the only one I know about.


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