s01e06 Why you will never become a singer?

Who our guests are?

What will we talk about?

  • Is it important if I was born with big or tiny voice?
  • Do I need to study languages?
  • I’m 18 and just starting. Is it too late?
  • What a teacher cannot give?

I’d rather read than watch.

No problem! Just scroll down for the transcript.

Klára

Many people who really loved me and appreciated me, tried to tell me not to become a singer. Professor Imre Földes, whom I already mentioned, who was my music history teacher at the college, for example He said he would kneel in front of me if it would make me let go of this stupid fancy, because I can’t be successful in singing, and I should just pick musicology or something reasonable. And he repeated: he doesn’t want to hurt me, it’s only affection that speaks through him. Same with my famous piano teacher, Ilona Prunyi, who not much earlier accompanied Júlia Hamari, she used to say:

Klárika, this can’t be considered a voice!

All my exams, always there was this feedback: this can’t be considered a voice! But they never managed to discourage me, because at the same time there were certain people, who would pat my face and say they see something in me, a fire, a spark that makes them believe in me.

I asked Kati, my first singing teacher, later on: what did she see in me? Ambition, she said.

Since then I know that as singing teachers we cannot underestimate this factor. Sometimes we tend to overlook the ambition, or the inner motivation, we tend to focus on internal and external talents, on the voice, and ambition has almost equal importance. It goes with persistence and relentlessness towards ourselves. It goes with goal orientation. It makes us strive to reach our goals no matter what are the circumstances. And what’s more, it makes us work through obstacles and shake off the failures relatively quickly.

You need to learn to fight!

I think that if someone wants to be a singer and their capacity to fight is stronger than in others, absolutely needs the time and energy investment, all the help we can provide. The readiness to fight, the skill to get up after a lost battle and grow even stronger belongs to this career as much as singing in almost 50:50 proportion.

Or so be it, if someone has an incredible vocal talent which is obvious already in their teens. Of course, we should help these people too. But there is a huge drawback in this case, namely the series of successes that the person has already in a very young age. I wouldn’t like to mention names, but many of my colleagues by the time they were let’s say 19, they were already mature vocal personalities and could imitate the great singers with surprising ease. I say imitate, because clearly they did not have enough life and musical experience to interpret a very mature aria or role originally, but even the educate audience would applaud and say: she sounds like Callas, or he sounds like young Bergonzi, how amazing! And these great artists who were extremely successful already at the beginning of their career, never learned how to handle pits we all fall into sometimes, failures, sicknesses, just like my asthma. My colleague Dénes Gulyás described in his book very clearly, how unprepared he was to fight with such an obstacle. I had obstacles and difficulties since day one of my career and so this was just one more to it, I could fight with the sickness like with anything else. The sickness didn’t cause such a deep mental block that would prevent me from performing successfully.

The voice can reach its peak when we are in our fifties.

At this point we are mature in all meanings, our muscles, everything. We have musical experience, stage experience, if we pay attention to our looks we can still create illusion onstage. Not in streaming videos, of course, because with this kind of zoom even twenty-something years old can hardly create illusion.

What do you think, which are the talents, predispositions, what mental and physical conditions are required for someone who would like to tackle this path? At the top of your career and also as an active teacher, how would you spot these young people, whom you would advise to try out this career?

Éva

The difficult, and for me also the crucial part, is to assess if their voice has an operatic volume. If there is none, we can try to make the voice richer, or bigger, but if there is no predisposition for the required volume – which isn’t important in the lighter genres, because they sing with microphones, and we don’t. So if this is lacking, it can be a difficult challenge.

You cannot teach musicality, stage presence, this undefined thing we call “talent”.

You simply cannot teach that. Another very important thing is nervous system. I see many young people who are old enough to start study singing, underwent mutation, they are often in terrible mental condition. Often the school drains them, they have inferiority complex, or we meet the other extreme, arrogance and self-pride – it’s very difficult in either case.

István

However, you also have these rare young people who decided already in their early teens, that they want to be opera singers.But there was no one to tell them: look, it’s not that certain that you can become one. My singing teacher said: let’s get to work, when she heard me first. But she told many other people: look for a different career. She was always honest with everyone who came to her, and so am I. It’s not worth it, change your career path now, because you’ll end up as a bitter, resentful person. You won’t become a soloist. Your voice is not a soloist voice.

As a young boy I never thought or planned that I would be an opera singer, or a trained singer, or to study singing. The joy of singing was enough and it was good like that.
I do not really think that it’s a good idea to start serious singing training with people younger than eighteen. Boys and girls, it doesn’t matter.

The world rushes forward, everyone thinks they will be late for something: No one will be late for anything.

Gábor

There is a lot of great Hungarian singers, but on international market, not that many.I think it may be because we have difficulties in learning languages, and thus we cut ourselves from the possibility of work abroad, in France, or in Germany – although many of us speak some German – or Italy, or English speaking countries.

Emőke

No one could tell if my voice would be good for anything. I had a really baby voice, very small one. I’m a late bloomer, I needed all those years so that my voice starts to get rounder, more feminine.

I am 33 now and in a life of a singer, this is only the beginning.

You cannot know what will happen in ten years. So that’s what I think of all this now, ask me again in ten years!


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