Monday, October 22, 2012

Learn to play. Play to learn!

Today I'd like to share someone else's words with you. Among many incredibly informative and inspirational talks published on the website, one of them very much sums up my view on knowledge and development: 
Never stop learning and in order to do so - always remember to forget what you've learned! :).
If you check out the video below you'll understand what I mean…

I also would love to open your eyes for if you're not yet aware of this fantastic place. Ted is a nonprofit movement devoted to spreading ideas. A kind of global community where any people with ideas worth spreading are given a plattform to do so through local and international conferences and forums. The best talks and performances from TED and their partners are then made available to the world through for free. Isn't that just brilliant? 
I can be a real softy and things like this make me so happy I could cry. Imagine how many good people there are in this world and that they make such an effort to make the world a better place for others. 
I must warn you, if you start watching TED talks you will spend a lot of time there, you might change your views on several things and you will learn a lot. 


Check out more riveting talks by remarkable people at 

- Annika

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Mind maps, teaching artistry and Björk

Hi everyone, it's Ville this time. As me and Annika wrote before we were recently in Copenhagen discussing technique, singing and working on our future plans. Often when we meet we end up talking so much that we forget to write anything down. This time we tried to avoid some of that by making a mind map of all the things we were discussing. It worked surprisingly well. I was forced to do a lot of mind maps at school when I was around 10 years old and then I didn't like it all. Now it seemed to work out much better. I decided to try using it also for something else.

This autumn I returned to my master's studies at the Sibelius Academy. I'm doing it part time, almost like a hobby, to keep it fun. Anyway, I made a mind map to help me structuring  the theme of my thesis. I don't know if I found out what I wanted but realised something else. I wrote down all kinds of possible things that could be part of singer's artistry or being a singer. Then I looked at the mind map and noticed how very little part is actually being taught at the singing lessons in different institutions!

Many singing teachers teach style - what is right phrasing and sound for certain genres and styles - and/or technique - how to produce wanted sounds in a healthy way. It's easy to notice that a lot of things are missing already within these subjects. Only certain styles and techniques are usually taught as a part of the curriculum. Rock has inspired so many interesting singing styles and techniques that it doesn't seem right to concentrate only on few genres within it, usually the ones with not so "rough" singing. To me, it seems that the curriculum even on a university level is based on a quite narrow image of what singer can be as an artist. This image is largely defined by classical tradition and music business.

So what other subjects could be covered? One quite obvious and easy is technology, all kinds of learning aids like recording audio and video, DAWs, microphones and their differences, voice pedals and effects etc. Also, if singer would like to concentrate more on recording there are many areas to cover like studio technology, recording techniques and auditive analysis. Many teachers teach these subjects but they are not all part of the curriculum, at least in Finland. There's also a lot of things in the area of performance that could help singer to grow as an artist, like movement and dance, communication with audience, trying out different stages and stagings.

I had some more subjects on my list but in my opinion one of the most important things for singing and voice teachers is to encourage critical thinking towards prevalent concepts of being a singer. I believe that this together with more equality of all genres and styles would make it easier for singers to find their place as vocal artists. Now there is so much competition for so few different ways of being a singer that many get frustrated in trying to fit into a certain mold. It is a challenge for all singers, also those already working professionally to redefine singer's artistry - or at least making it more diverse.

I'll end with what I think is a great example of truly innovative artist, both vocally and musically. She has constantly moved on but never lost her integrity as an artist. I saw her concert in Helsinki this summer and her music and performance really moved me, in all ways.