TIP OF THE MONTH

 

August  2011

 

This is a letter written to me by Steve Moritsugu who wanted to put in his "three cents!" Richard

 

Hi Richard,
After reading about myself in your July tip of the month, I wrote this reply
from my point of view. Please feel free to use any of it that might be
interesting.

 

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Previously, I had coached tenor arias and church solos with Kristof Van Gryspeer who was at the time the assistant conductor of Opera Pacific. After a year, he told me frankly that I had a number of vocal problems and they were not getting any better. I couldn't sustain the tenor tessitura, I had severe pitch problems, my production was uneven, I could sing a high A occasionally but would usually choke on them when singing an aria. I also had trouble in the passagio. I tried a new voice teacher but started to have throat problems. Kristof then suggested I try Richard Fredricks because Kristof was impressed with the results he had seen at USC with Richard's voice students.

From the very first lesson, I knew that I wanted to continue to study with Richard. Kristof noticed I had a much more operatic tenor sound after just a few lessons. I noticed I had no more throat trouble. One of the incredible things about Richard is that he knows instantly which sounds are right (healthy and ringing with a raised palate providing vertical space above the note) and which are not (i.e. tight, mot providing vertical space above the note and constricted, forced). I might sing five quick notes and he will tell me the third one was  "out of the honk." Even more important to me is that he is very consistent. When we play back those notes, he will hear the same wrong thing at the same place each time. Because these problems are so obvious to him, he cannot understand why I don't hear it. He hears instantly when I'm approaching a phrase with the wrong placement and how I need to change it. Sometimes I'm not singing with enough energy. Sometimes I'm forcing, tightening or constricting.

One of my things that sometimes frustrates me is the fact that a successful note requires a number of elements must be correct (in balance), all at the same time, i.e. the top lip down, the narrow mouth which allows the palate to rise, the arch of the tongue, the placement of the tip of the tongue and the flexible breath support. I have often wished I could just work on one element at a time, ignoring all the others, until I got it right. Then go on to the next element. However, the only way for me to know if one element is right is for Richard to hear the resultant sound and show me, demonstrate for me the difference. Often the resultant sound will not be

right until all the elements mesh, at the same time. I'll sing a note, look at Richard, and he will list several things I should have fixed. When I try it again, maybe something totally different will be wrong, but then weíll fix that too.
 

As we go and try to fix things, one at time, I donít always get the notes in exactly the right spot, but it always sounds better than it did. My notes might be too covered or too wide/bright, too     constricted, too down in the throat, or too inside, with me not thinking of projecting the sound. Often we just go on. As the minutes pass, eventually there are fewer and fewer problem spots and Richard will be (more or less) happy with the sound and the placement. He always asks me why I didn't start like this (ie with this placement)? And, I will say that I'm not aware that the current placement is different than how we started; I just canít tell the difference! No one element feels much different to me than when we started. HOWEVER, I can tell that I am singing better, with less effort, and more ring. In fact, even from the beginning, I realize that even though I canít always tell when Iím doing all of the elements exactly the way he wants, just by trying and repetition, my voice is consistently getting better and better.

With Richard, I started to vocalize full voice B naturals and Cís when, before working with him, I could not croak anything higher than B flat. My singing off pitch has improved immensely, enough for me to cast as comprimarios tenor and now Iím singing leading tenor roles. Not only can I sing the tessitura of complete tenor arias, but complete tenor roles. In May of this year,I sang a full dress rehearsal of Rodolfo in La Boheme when just a few years ago, I could not sing one complete aria without getting into trouble. (To be truthful, I did transpose Che gelida down a full step because I had never sung a complete role before.) Rodolfo has a number of B flats and I sang all of them without trouble.

I am incredibly grateful for all the extra work that Richard has done to help me find this place where I am now singing. It is a strange place to me that I cannot always find on my own, yet. I know this is true because at the start of each lesson, things are not where they should be and the feelings that I think are right turn out to be not right. The good news is that it takes less time now for Richard to get me to the right place and sometimes, I can even make a correction that he asks for and actually get to the right place right away. I am now rehearsing the role of Manrico In Il Trovatore which I will sing for Repertory Opera Co. in Pomona in October. I've rehearsed Di quella pira with B naturals. When I sing the way Richard wants, it is really a ringing, open, forward, bright, free sound that has vertical room above, i.e. is not constricted, heavy, or covered.

It is a truly wonderful experience to study any role with Richard, who often sang with Beverly Sills and at the MET. Aside from the right production of notes, we work on pronunciation, phrasing and conveying the sense of the words (with the right voice production). His technique is so good that he sings most of the tenor tessitura to show me examples of how it should be done with the right vowels. He yells a lot. He expects a lot. He gives a lot. Me, singing a lead tenorrole?

 

Steve
 

January 2016 - JOHNNY CARSON Part 2

JULY 11 - PERSEVERANCE THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

JUNE 11
- PERSEVERANCE

MAY 11 - ENERGY!

APRIL 11 - EXTERNALIZING SUPPORT

MARCH 11 - THE IMPORTANCE OF DICTION

FEBRUARY 11 - RESPONSE TO LAST MONTHS TIP

JANUARY 11 - LET'S TRY THIS

DECEMBER 10 - THE FUNCTION OF THE MOUTH... IN SINGING

NOVEMBER 10 - BOY SOPRANO TO YOUNG MANíS VOICE

OCTOBER 10
- TOOLS OF THE TRADE (i.e. LEARNING REPERTOIRE)

SEPTEMBER 10 - TOOLS OF THE TRADE

AUGUST 10 - JOIN A CHORUS (Addendum)

JULY 10 - JOIN A CHORUS

JUNE 10 - HI THERE SINGERS!
 

MAY 10 - SINGING IS WORK

APRIL 10 - THE FIVE ďCís!Ē

MARCH 10 - LEARNING REPERTOIRE

FEBRUARY 10 - THE TIGHT JAW

JANUARY 10 - BALANCING THE VOICE

DECEMBER 09 - LOVE CAN REIGN - LINK

NOVEMBER 09 - ABSENCE OF EXCESSIVE TENSION

OCTOBER 09 - YOUR OTHER BEST FRIEND - YOUR MIRROR

SEPTEMBER 09 - EVERYONE CAN SING!

AUGUST 09 - LATENT HERNIAS AND OTHER SUPPORT PROBLEMS

JULY 09 - PRINCE IMRAN RAZA STATESMAN/ROCK STAR

JUNE 09 - ANOTHER NATURAL SINGER - DAVID BURKE

MAY 09 -DISCOVERY OF VOIC
E

APRIL 09 - I'M SICK, BUT I HAVE TO PERFORM TONIGHT  Part 2

MARCH 09 - I'M SICK, BUT I HAVE TO PERFORM TONIGHT

FEBRUARY 09 - SINGING IN ENGLISH

JANUARY 09 - GETTING AN AGENT AND/OR MANAGER (Part 4)

DECEMBER 08 - GETTING AN AGENT AND/OR MANAGER (Part 3)

NOVEMBER 08 -
GETTING AN AGENT AND/OR MANAGER (Part 2)

OCTOBER 08 - GETTING AN AGENT AND/OR MANAGER (Part 1)

SEPTEMBER 08 - HEAVY BREATHING ADVISED FOR JOCKS

AUGUST 08 -  THE VAGARIES OF AUDITIONS AND AUDITIONING (Part 3)

JULY 08 -
THE VAGARIES OF AUDITIONS AND AUDITIONING (Part 2)

JUNE 08 -
THE VAGARIES OF AUDITIONS AND AUDITIONING (Part 1)

MAY 08 - ABSENCE OF TENSION

APRIL 08 -
THE FLAT TONGUE TECHNIQUE AND HOW DO YOU MAKE A VOWEL

MARCH 08  - THE VOICE COACHING THAT  MADE MY CAREER

FEBRUARY 08 - WHAT ARE YOU SINGING?

JANUARY 08 -
VIBRATO/WOBBLE

DECEMBER 07 - BREATHING REVISITED

NOVEMBER  07 - HOW TO KILL A COLD IN FIVE DAYS

OCTOBER 07 - A BIT MORE SUPPORT

SEPTEMBER 07 - MORE SUPPORT

AUGUST 07 - INTRO & BREATHING/SUPPORT