Day 28: 7 steps to learning the lingo

After an unscheduled ‘day off’ (on account of a sore tummy which prevented me from moving off the couch and making myself presentable) I’m back with my most experimental vlog post to date!

I’ve been invited to submit an online audition and am revisiting an aria that I learnt early on in my training. When I was handed repertoire in the first couple of years, I hadn’t yet learnt how to… learn it. I went about it in the only way I knew at the time, which was to learn the melody by ear from the most famous recordings, to rely on my photographic memory to picture the words on the page and to read a rough translation which conveyed the general sense of the piece in English.

Over the years, I’ve picked up some fool-proof tricks from coaches and professionals that help to lodge music and words in my memory and ensure once learnt, never forgotten. Specifically, when learning arias in a foreign language, I’ve bolted together some of the best tips I’ve been given into a 7-step process.

  1. Say the phrase aloud
  2. Find a rough translation
  3. Repeat translation in 3 ways – experimenting with emphasis
  4. Find a word-for-word translation
  5. Translate aloud word-for-word into English
  6. Translate aloud word-for-word back into the original language
  7. Repeat original phrase in 3 ways – experimenting with emphasis as before

Watch the vlog for more detail and an example using a simple German phrase.

Completing these seven steps for every phrase in a piece can be time consuming but experience has taught me there’s no substitute for learning this way. Quality time spent in the early stages will save you hours correcting yourself in the long-run.

I certainly don’t plan to be this bossy in all subsequent posts but there’s been a lot of generic lockdown flim-flam from me lately so I thought I should offer something useful!

Stay cheered, stay healthy and I hope this unlocks the linguist in you! Lots of love xx

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