So,you’ll never walk alone…

As with many of the occasions I self-promote, this one is also an assignment set by Trinity Laban. The module, Engaging Audiences, encourages us to do just that. Pick an audience and engage it. There’s a whole catalogue of audiences; traditional culture vultures (highly engaged in the arts), family and community focused (some engagement in the arts) and a quiet pint and the match (not currently engaged in the arts) amongst many more.

How you approach each kind of audience member differs, for example, culture vultures will likely respond to advertisements at the place of their previous concert or by word of mouth at such a venue whereas family and community focused need to be engaged at an event around their families’ needs, so if you were to put on a child-friendly concert, you’d put flyers up at the local children’s centre or family friendly cafes to engage them. A quiet pint and the match character takes a little more flair, because they are happy with their environment, they have their friendship groups set up and don’t plan on changing anything so you have to enter their world, make the arts something they are interested in already. Continue reading So,you’ll never walk alone…

So, how was the performance?

The final day, we had a short dress rehearsal which worked well for me as I was so worried about potentially missing Teddy’s bedtime for the first time since he was born. We ran through the piece in it’s entirety and the dancers did their routine alongside us. We were also told to stand up and be still in sections where we weren’t playing or singing. I was nervous about this as I didn’t want to miss a cue, so always positioned myself facing the person who would give me the go ahead. Continue reading So, how was the performance?

So, how’s Colab going?

With the music sections taking place, the third day was a good chance to speak with the dancers involved in more detail and talk about the space we were using and how they would move around us or with us. We showed them where we would be sitting and they marked these spots with tape. Then, because much of the piece is shaped my cues, we also had to show the dancers where we’d be looking so that they wouldn’t get in the way and avoid us missing a vital cue. With this information, they then marked tape where they could stand. Continue reading So, how’s Colab going?

So, your last year of colab began?

The Colab scheme started at Trinity Laban in 2011, it was the year I was doing a 6 month flexible program of study. There was an overall consensus from students that this was ridiculous and no one wanted to take part, I was thankful my 6 months was up just before colab began… But fast forward 5 years and Colab has become a highlight of our year. A chance to spend a week learning new things, meeting new people and generally getting a new lease of life for the final push of the academic year. Continue reading So, your last year of colab began?

So, how’s it all going?

It popped up on my Facebook today that it’s been a year since I announced my pregnancy and blogged about it so I thought I’d provide an update!

We are now proud parents to a beautiful baby boy, Teddy Rex Baldwin. Teddy because I wanted something a little different and once I’d said ‘Teddy’ aloud, nothing seemed better. Rex because my husband wanted a son he could call T-Rex…

My pregnancy was straightforward and although tired and waddling by the end, I quite liked being able to wear bodycon with confidence and found more space for breathing whilst singing when I realised I’d been subconsciously holding my stomach in all these years! I sang right up to my birth and took my final group lesson at 40 weeks (Teddy hung on in there for a further 10 days!). I was readying myself for my major assessment but decided that I would defer it until September so I could concentrate on the birth. I practised over and over but because my brain took a battering during pregnancy with forgetfulness I had only memorised one of my arias, Signore Ascolta from Puccini’s Turandot.

This is a singing blog so I won’t go into specifics, but the birth was pretty traumatic and I got sepsis which left Teddy prone to an infection so we spent a week in hospital from induction and it was a very emotional time. When Teddy was around 20 hours old, the paediatrician came down and told us he also had jaundice and would have to be put under a phototherapy light. The light helps to shrink the bilirubin cells, making it easier for babies’ livers to then process and get rid of. We were told we couldn’t touch him whilst he was under the light and had to leave him in there unless he was feeding or being changed.

When we were left alone, my husband, Teddy and I, Teddy started to cry. We didn’t know what to do as he’s just been fed and changed and probably just wanted a cuddle but we had to leave him under the light. As a new Mum, all you want to do is hold your baby so with Mark’s arms around me, I started to sing Signore Ascolta. Teddy immediately calmed and drifted to sleep as I came to the final high notes completely piannissimo(that means really quiet).

It meant the world to me that I could settle him, that it reminded him of being sung to whilst still in the womb and that I still had enough support after just giving birth to sing a top Bb pianissimo!!

Being at a conservatoire with a baby has not been without its challenges but I’ve worked hard to make sure I have my core strength back so I can sing with confidence, I have to learn music whilst teddy sleeps on me and practise as part of a game with him. If I stand and pretend I’m singing to a full audience, he looks on amazed, he prefers legato (joined up) singing which helps with the practise but ‘you are my sunshine’ and ‘we are liverpool’ (cheers Daddy) are still his favourites!!

I have a little troop of people I trust at Trinity Laban who help look after Teddy when I have coaching or a singing lesson and Teddy’s Nan and Nana have been amazing; taking time to come to London on trains and long car journeys and staying on our couch to help look after him.

I do struggle to leave him, he is just so wonderful to be around and I want to spend every moment with him and because I have to leave him for college, it means I won’t leave him for unnecessary things like time to myself because of the guilt I feel but I’m working on that… I went to the co op on my own last week!

Being able to breastfeed Teddy has been an amazing thing too, I didn’t think I’d have a desire to do it before falling pregnant but with so much help given to us at the hospital and reading up on the benefits whilst pregnant meant that I was able to once he arrived. It’s been such a lovely experience and bond between us.

I am due to start my final academic term in January which will consist of 10 teaching weeks and an intensive collaborative engagement in February and then we’ll be left to practise until exam season begins so it all feels doable at the moment. Student services are helping me find the right balance and there is support from the faculty.

It will be challenging , yes and tiring too but I hope to write another blog a year from now, telling you about how my beautiful son and husband accompanied me to my graduation ceremony…

 

 

So, two become three…

Well, today I write my most exciting blog ever; Mark and I are delighted to announce that we are expecting a little bundle of Baldwin joy on 5th June 2015!

The decision around when to become a Mother when training to be a classical singer is not an easy one and comes down to one little question…

Do you want to be a Mum? Continue reading So, two become three…

So, now the end is near…

Being set the challenge of writing a blog for our Engaging Audiences module this year seemed like a bit of a hassle when it was set in September, but now I’ve got into it a bit, I’m faced with the question of whether or not to carry on despite the assignment being due tomorrow. I think I will! It’s really helped me to look at my journey while I’m training to become a classical singer and I’ve become a lot more accountable for my experiences so I don’t intend to stop there.

However, as my last “assessed” post, I thought I would wish you all, including you my amazingly talented and wonderful Engaging Audiences assessor (can’t hurt right?), a very wonderful Christmas and the happiest of New Years!

Here’s a little Christmas song to help the occasion along, I sang Slumber Song to the Madonna by Michael Head at a recent Charity concert in Mile End. It is Mary singing to baby Jesus as she tries to settle him to sleep, as I said to the audience, “even the Virgin Mary needs her sleep!”

So, can every week be like that one?

Every so often, while training to be a classical singer, the hard work pays off and this week was one of those lovely occurrences…

I auditioned for the soprano solo in Carmina Burana way back in September along with many of my colleagues at music college and remember getting the email confirming I’d got the part as I was walking along the Thames, near Temple. I’d never expected I’d get it against so many competent undergrad and postgrad singers and literally jumped up and down with excitement. Thankfully, my husband was walking alongside me so I didn’t look too crazy. Best of all, Dominic Peckham, conductor of many amazing choirs including the Royal Opera House’s RM19 Youth singing group, would be conducting us. Continue reading So, can every week be like that one?

So, you’re saying I shouldn’t exercise?

On Wednesday, Trinity Laban students were treated to another free recital from the Jette Parker Young Artists and this time, the wonderful tenor, Samuel Sakker and beautiful Soprano, Anush Hovhannisyan performed. As we had a rehearsal for the upcoming Carmina Burana, we were only able to make the second half, but what a second half it was.

My highlights were “Deh, se piacer mi vuoi” from La Clemenza di Tito by Mozart. Anush’s warm tones had deep resonance which made it all the more delightful when she manoeuvred around the coloratura phrases (which means the bits that are very busy, with lots of notes) with seeming ease. She looked every inch the diva and I loved that about her aura!

Continue reading So, you’re saying I shouldn’t exercise?

An aspiring classical singer at Trinity Laban hoping to learn enough theory, technique and tenacity to start up a career in this amazing industry…