Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What You Need to Know About Marking for Singers

Today's guest post was written by soprano Elisabeth Turchi. Based in Central Pennsylvania, Elisabeth has sung with the Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Delaware, Opera Camerata of Washington D.C., Atlantic Coast Opera Festival, Harrisburg Opera, New Opera Festival of Rome, and Gotham Chamber Opera. Ms. Turchi’s numerous concert engagements include Handel’s Messiah at Massachusetts’ Mechanics Hall and a European tour of Haydn’s Creation. Elisabeth's guest post arose out of a conversation with NY-based vocal coach Jennifer Peterson about maintaining vocal health through a busy rehearsal schedule.

In every singer’s life, there comes a time when we must mark. Marking is a way of singing quietly during rehearsals in order to protect one’s voice. Reasons for marking are varied: perhaps you didn’t get enough sleep, or maybe you didn’t have the opportunity to warm up sufficiently. But what if you have only one rehearsal with a pianist for a very important audition? You have just one chance to prepare your work together, and you’re not up to a full- voiced session. So, go ahead – mark.

The question is: how do you communicate everything necessary to a pianist when you mark?

The key to successful marking is to always give your colleagues what they need to do their job. Whether your colleague is another singer, a pianist, instrumentalist, or conductor, you must give them clear cues. They need crisp diction, clean entrances, and clear cut- offs. Yes, you can sing quietly, and yes, you can drop down the octave, but the energy level must remain high. Often when singers mark, they slow the tempo, change the length of notes or rests, and give very dull interpretations. If your intentions are not clear, your colleagues will not know what you want from them. Keep your interpretation alive so they will know when to swell to a forte with you, diminuendo with you, and breathe with you.

You want to give the best you can. Give them what they need to do their best as well, and you’re on your way to a successful collaboration! Cheers!

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