Yesterday I finished a singing (cante) workshop with Maria Mezcle from Spain. Previous workshops have been taught by men so it was fantastic to have a cantaora for a change. She stressed vocal warmups and technique for breathing. I had no idea I had so many cavities in my head that could vibrate!! We spent time on a particularly confusing warmup that involved blocking the back of your throat with your tongue...we looked and felt ridiculous!!! Back to that later. She taught us true Andulucia style singing...no one has ever broken it down for us so well and expected us to get it!!
Typically in workshops we learn more familiar styles so you start with some knowledge. No, no, no, not Maria!! We learned a Mirabras which is specific to the region of San Lucar where she is from. Challenging! We sounded pretty good as a group though!! There were 10 students in the class and it was the first time she had taught such a big group even in Spain. She was thrilled there was love of flamenco cante in Toronto.
Back to the tongue in the back of the throat thing....you produce a nasal tone for lack of a better description and then slowly unblock the throat by dropping the tongue...can't describe it any better...and then you let a note rock the room. If you are doing it right, you can hear a ringing of sorts in the note you are holding. Anyways, bad description but she made us do it alone every day. Curses!! Look, feel and now sound like you have no idea what you are doing!!!
On the third day of the workshop it was my turn. Once done my first attempt, I got the slow tipping of the head from shoulder to shoulder with a pursing of the lips and a shoulder shrug. That means "kindasorta". She tells me to do it again. "But this time, she said, no fear....sing with no fear". So I started the list of breath, check, posture, check, tongue, check and I let a note go. This time I "kindasorta" did it better. That means all the movements above with a bit of a smile!!
That's my new mantra now.....sing with no fear!!!