Recently, Carolyn Val-Schmidt audited a lesson of my wonderful singer/student, Coril Prochnow ... and apparently heard that technique for which she’d been searching, in my studio. Once upon a time, she had a very fine career in New York City and sang with a host of name singers, Carlo Bergonzi being one. As is most often the case, as she began to sing less frequently, she fell into the singers trap of “either use it or lose it!@
Since she had always been a Anatural singer,@ once she had essentially perfected the art of singing at a professional level, her SUPPORT was simply, always there, until that day ... when it was no longer reliable! The same thing happened to Pat Boone, Andy Williams, Howard Keel, Ann Blyth, Georgio Tozzi, Renata Scotto, etc., all of whom recovered their support, relatively quickly, once I showed them what it was they used to do ... naturally! It’s pure mechanics, no magic!
What they had lost, they simply had no way of recovering, since they had never known exactly how it was they had been doing (supporting) … naturally! I reiterate … it was always JUST THERE ... until it wasn=t anymore!
And exactly what is that illusive technique, you might well ask? That=s the subject of my very first Tip of the Month, which I wrote on August, 2007; Breathing/Support!
I suggest you scroll all the way to the bottom and print it out, then read it OUT LOUD SLOWLY, three times ... to realize the pure, simple coordination that your body did naturally, since you first started singing, probably when you were five or six ... that you may not be doing as easily and effective now, as you once did! (Finding the balance can be a bit Avexing,@ but do it in front of a full-length mirror, so you don=t inadvertently miss a step or three!)
Then, perhaps, while you’re in the mood, you might scroll up to APRIL 2010 and print out “The Five C’s!” They tell you how and what to do with the Breathing/Support, to make a strong and vibrant sound with a solid technique underneath it.
Carolyn has her voice back, in only a little over two months, not quite with the same quality yet, but singing strongly, well on her way back. RF
Richard Fredricks actually stunned me with his ability to return to me the voice I had when I was at the height of my professional opera career!
I came to him with my voice in pieces...and he thoughtfully applied his pedagogical brilliance to release my many long-grown faulty habits. For many years I was a successful opera soprano free-lancing out of NYC, who, as the years went by, forgot my daily discipline, so I was totally foundering vocally when I found the guts to approach such an eminently qualified teacher as Richard is. I attended a lesson of a friend and was struck by the depth and clarity of his technique...by his ability to pinpoint exactly what technical aspect needed to be fixed and just how to adjust it.
I had a tiny hope that he could at least help me to sing through a phrase. What a surprise that he led me back to the freedom and quality of the truth of my voice! My task now is to create a consistency of my easy technique. The intimacy which he has with vocal science is astounding. His ear, his knowledge, his integrity, his patience are mind-blowing. And...unlike so many voice teachers - he can easily demonstrate all that he asks.
It has been decades since I have partnered the likes of Justino Diaz and Carlo Bergonzi. Since my relocating to L.A. I have hungered to be in the company of a fellow professional as Richard. We share more than memories of NYC, of our active careers and fellow musicians...with Richard I am returned to the atmosphere of the highest standards of performance vocally and dramatically.
I have taught voice throughout my performing. career. Neither I nor any of my previous teachers had the overall vocal knowledge this maestro carries within himself. It is indeed a privilege to study with Richard Fredricks! I call him my scientific wizard
Below is a YouTube link to my Town Hall debut in December of 1981 partnering Carlo Bergonzi in the American Premiere of Verdi's second opera, IL CORSARO. It was presented by the Long Island Opera Society and conducted by David Lawton.
In this aria, "No so le tetre immagini", Medora is awaiting her lover Corrado's return, and to combat her uneasy fantasies, she picks up a harp and accompanies herself, singing that there is an emotion deep inside of her that can only be accessed when Corrado is near to her.
Carolyn Val-Schmidt-"Non so le tetre immagini", Il Corsaro (exc.2)