Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Time of Blessing

The blessings of the Lord have been flowing down upon me the last couple of weeks!  I'll begin with the language side of my life.  Yesterday I finished the Michel Thomas course I have been working on for the last five months.  This is significant for a number of reasons.  First, I feel that I have a strong base in German now and can comfortably hold my own in basic, day to day conversation.  Second, this means that I can now move on to Assimil, picking up where I left off at lesson 24.  Additionally, tomorrow I will cross over the 2,000 known word milestone on LingQ.  This has taken me a lot longer than I anticipated, however it is ultimately of my own doing.  I took a small hiatus earlier in the year from LingQ and in general I am lax about doing LingQ if I am lacking motivation on a given day.  This puts me at about the same level on LingQ as my Italian says I am.  Although Italian was the "first" foreign language I brought to a significant level it has quickly become my lowest level language, besides my high school level Spanish.  At some point I will come back and bring all of my languages to higher levels, but for now I am content with where it is.

Based on where I am in the Assimil program, I have approximately 126 days of work ahead of me, which equates 25 weeks of study based on a 5 day study schedule.  That should bring me to about December, which allows me to focus solely and intensively on LingQ for the final month, where I hope to really increase my known words.  The nice thing about known words is that they grow exponentially.  In French I learned approximately 5500 words in 8 months.  If I follow a similar pace from here on out in German that would bring me to about 7500 known words by the end of the year, give or take a few hundred.  If I stay on course and hit all of my goals for the rest of the year I should have no problem speaking German coming January 1st.

The real exciting news comes on the vocal front.  I went down to New York to have a lesson with JRL and had a very productive lesson.  Towards the end of the lesson I was assigned the role of Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi for a sing-through later in the summer.  This will be my first time singing a role as a tenor!  On top of this, I am also looking ahead to doing my first round of auditions for some summer programs in the autumn.  After three arduous years of struggle and hard work I am beginning to come out on the other side of this process and am confident about my prospects.

Another important part of my trip to New York was my coaching with Susan Morton.  During the coaching I was recommended a book called The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle.  While I am still just barely scratching the surface of this book, it has transformed my approach to nearly every important aspect of my life.  The concept of "deep practicing" discussed in the tome has made learning a much more intense and rewarding experience.  I have witnessed the benefits in my singing while learning this role, in my running as I have determined to beat my chronic shin splints this summer, and even my language work as I near an intermediate level of German.  I highly recommend that anyone who is attempting to gain a skill find this book and give it a read.

Overall, the last two weeks have seen many prayers beginning to be answered and many goals in their infancy of being realized.  I look forward to where these new opportunities and experiences take me and glorify the Lord for granting me the patience to see these things through to their fulfillment according to his will!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Strength is coming!

There's not a whole lot to report on the language front this time around.  I am still plugging away and making progress daily.  There have not been any new big breakthroughs.  The only noteworthy thing is that I will be finish MT before my next post, which means I will then go back to Assimil.

My vocal studies are where the more interesting things have been happening lately.  A couple of weeks ago at church I was singing at the 8:30 mass and went for a G4 which I can normally hit in a rough way that early in the morning.  This time around, however everything happened the way it was supposed to:  the F turned on the [o] vowel and then the [a] vowel turned ideally on the G producing a nice, easy, free flowing pitch.  I took this accomplishment to mean that I have begun to build significant strength through my passaggio so that these acoustical things can happen correctly and automatically.  The second thing happened to me this past evening at a rehearsal for an ecumenical choir concert that I am participating in.  We had just finished rehearsing a men's choir piece which took the tenors up to an Ab4.  I sang this easily the few times we went through it without giving it much thought.  As we were going back to join up with the rest of the choir one of the other tenors made a remark to me that I was "one of those high tenors that sings that Pavarotti high C."  I laughed and answered that I was working on it.  It amused me because a year ago at this concert I was told be one of these singers that I was a "2nd tenor" and now after a year of work on my part I am being told that I am a "high tenor."  Ultimately these people are amateur singers and their thoughts on my vocal classification have little merit in my life.  It is nice however to see that my work is paying dividends.

I have come to realize over the course of my vocal studies that things happen at a slower pace for me in this medium than they did when I was a saxophonist.  Luckily I have learned to be patient and trust that the process will get me to my end goal eventually.  When I started down this path as a singer I did not realize how hard I was going to have to work to attain my dreams.  Everything else I had ever done in music came easily.  Now, though I have broken through so man apparent glass ceilings that I have very little that can stand in my way.  I had a goal set in front of me by JRL at my last lesson that by this time next year I need to have a workable C5 so I can work on Faust and Rodolfo.  I take these challenges very seriously and am closing in now an my B4, just a half step away from the famed "Pavarotti high C."  If my voice continues along the path it is currently on I anticipate not only reaching the goal of a workable high C, but hope to achieve it earlier than the date set forward by my teacher.

This fall I am going to be auditioning for a few summer programs and possibly one or two programs for the following year.  The following fall my sights are set on the MONCA competition.  This especially is a lofty goal, but I am confident that my work ethic and faith will see me through.