Singing in my slippers: Strauss at home with kids

Singing in my slippers: Strauss at home with kids

I’m Christina Smith, a mummy of two cheeky monkies: Edward, 4 and Lucinda, 2. I’m also a soprano and sing operatic arias, German lied, French chanson and English song. I am a proud member of the legendary Bournemouth Symphony Chorus.

I’m usually at home with the children and we are now having to fit life in around homeschooling but most afternoons you will find the three of us in our sitting room with me learning new music and my children happily doing their own thing. They seem to be completely oblivious to what mummy is doing! They have no concept as to the sounds I make and, if need be, my daughter can sleep through my singing.

I take weekly vocal coaching in Hertfordshire even though I live in Bournemouth: such are the things we do when we find the right teacher. My sister is forever reminding my husband that vocal tuition is cheaper than therapy! She’s right: singing and performance, whatever form it takes, is good for our souls. To express these emotions and channel this poetry though music is an amazing way to relieve stress. It focuses my mind and forces me to concentrate in ways that I don’t ordinarily do in my mummy role.

I can report that the current lockdown situation has hit singers hard: we are missing our teachers, those stunning souls who help us to perfect our craft, of course, but we also miss interactions with other musicians, especially our accompanists.

I was delighted when I stumbled across Your Accompanist and – I will admit – shocked to see accompaniments for pieces that I was actually working on. “And so,” I thought, “a new journey starts here”. While I can’t perform at events or go for coaching sessions the tracks have allowed me to practice and sing in my slippers! Just the challenge I was looking for.

It’s harder to sing to a backing track than I anticipated. The pianist can’t hang on to wait for you. Michael plays very accurately and in time, so you have to know the notes really well, but this forces my concentration in a really positive way. Often, you can sense the intention of the phrase for the lifts and lilts long beforehand. This helps me manage my air effectively across each phrase, as well as the whole piece, and I can still find space for my own details. I already know that when I return to tuition at last, my knowledge of the pieces I’m working on with these tracks will be so much tighter than ever before!

I hope you will join me on my new journey, tune into my YouTube channel and watch me singing in my slippers! Here is my first video, “Cäcilie” by Richard Strauss:

#stayhome #staysafe #fightthevirus

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