This book aims to highlight a subject which has become obscured and overcomplicated by half-truths and misconceptions. Contrary to a lot of current practice, singing is not about doing, but about thinking, feeling, and creating the right circumstances for our voices to work in. We all have pictures in our minds when we sing and they tend to influence our singing negatively. Notes for Singers offers ways to re-think our approach to singing, allowing our voices to work naturally. Singers often attribute their technical difficulties to breathing problems, but breathing plays a secondary role only: singing develops breathing, not breathing singing. If the mental approach to singing is right, the breath will largely take care of itself.
We need to cultivate the ability to recognise and remember the sensations of each vowel on each note, so that we build up a mental register of sensations. We can’t see inside our instruments (our voices), but we can create a mind map using our imaginations, so that we can visualise notes and vowels, which allows us to re-create any vowel on any particular note by an exercise of will (rather than by physical exertion). In addition, the book invites singers to think through familiar aspects of their singing in ways they may never have considered before: sight-reading, posture, auditions, interpretation, vocal identity, languages and true legato singing.
Chris Knowles lives in Ely. After spending a dozen years in the choir stalls (Trinity College Cambridge, Winchester and Salisbury Cathedrals) he worked for a decade as a freelance baritone, initially with the BBC Singers and then mainly at Kent Opera, the Royal Opera House and Opera North. He then spent twenty-five years as an agent on the other side of the curtains of the world’s opera houses and concert halls. Singing teaching is an ongoing passion. He is now semi-retired and enjoys sharing his knowledge of singing.