Chelsey Tries: My Voice Lesson with FM Opera Director David Hamilton

Throughout my life, I’ve considered myself a “decent” singer – I can carry a pitch, sing on tune and harmonize off the cuff fairly easily.

Singing has always come natural to me – or, at least that’s what I thought until I took a voice lesson with FM Opera general director, David Hamilton, a couple weeks ago as part of my “Chelsey Tries” series.

“Chelsey Tries” is my goal to not only communicate about the arts, but also get hands-on in all forms of art to gain a fresh perspective and promote our Primary Arts Partners in a fun way. In June I took a beginners ballet class with Gasper’s School of Dance, and my latest experience was my voice lesson with David.

I didn’t really know what to expect before arriving at David’s office at Concordia. Other than taking a few years of choir in middle and high school, I’ve never had a one-on-one lesson with anyone – much less an opera singer.

We started singing some scales to figure out my vocal range. In high school I sang soprano, and I was pleased to learn through my voice lesson that my vocal range hasn’t changed too much. All the singing I do in the car must help!

Next, we worked on breathing techniques. All this time I’ve been breathing from my chest while singing, but David taught me how to breathe using my diaphragm, expanding my core muscles and opening my mouth. He also told me to “breathe in like you’re surprised” to give me an idea of what muscles to use to successfully project my voice.

We also did an exercise where I had to bend my knees and swing my arms repeatedly while singing scales to produce an even louder sound – I looked ridiculous, but I was able to sing higher, louder notes when I had a steam engine-like energy to push my voice outward.

Singing – especially at an operatic level – is athletic if you’re using the right muscles and practicing consistently, much like any other physical training. At certain points I got light-headed and had to take a break. I do the same when (and if… definitely if) I go to the gym to work out.

In doing this voice lesson, I got a whole new level of appreciation for opera singers and their ability to create beautiful sound that can fill a large auditorium without microphones. It’s truly incredible. Thank you so much David and the F-M Opera for this experience!

The F-M Opera has a fun season ahead with Die Fledermaus in October, Alcina in February, Speed Dating Tonight with the 2018 Gate City Bank Young Artists in March, and Soldier Songs in April. For more information, visit fmopera.org.

Are you a Primary Arts Partner that would like to be featured on our blog as part of the “Chelsey Tries” series? Email me at chelsey@theartspartnership.net!

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