New project – How do I learn music?

People often ask me, “How do you learn your pieces?”. To me there is no mystery, of course, because I learn them. One thing I always bare in mind is that at some point I will have learnt it, it will be easy, and it will be in my body. Until that point I’m learning, and staying alive to all the possibilities of where I might be going with it and i find this such a fun time and really love finding out new things about the music and about myself as I do it.

I’ve decided to share a little bit about the process, starting today as I choose to learn a new song by Lili Boulanger. I’ve never sung anything before by her, and m really excited to get to know her music. Hopefully when I’ve learnt the piece, I’ll record it with my amazing partner / live-in pianist, David Bremner.

If you would like to download the song – have a look here.

Day 2:

Today I discuss Lili Boulanger’s life and works briefly. For more information read wikipedia – I also mentioned two works I listened to:

Psalm 130 and Faust et Héléne

I talk about the process of translating (I highly recommend the site as a wonderful resource of texts for so many songs) and exploring the images within the poem to help my performance. i give a brief reading in French of the text, so that we can compare how this changes as I become more familiar with the text and it becomes part of me.

Day 3:

Today I have a look through the images in the poem. I mention a few pictures: Here is the Wiliam Leech and here is one of Monet’s picture of the Water Lilies. I also was listening to Boulanger’s Vieille prière bouddhique. Below is the drawing I make during the video.


Day 4:

I mention the Laban method here. I have done some workshops with Sue Mythen at the Lir Academy in this. I reference the 8 action efforts here which deal with how Weight / Space / Time are dealt with in the images I discovered last week. With this I do a short of movement thinking (although on looking back actually mouthing) the words, and follow this with a read through of the words from memory. Through these different types of learning, drawing / moving, I’m beginning to feel that the words are becoming part of me, and that I’m starting to express the story of the song through the French words. I also have a little sing through of the song – as yet the notes are not right, I haven’t really looked at the rhythm so sometimes I was surprised at the lengths of the phrases. When this becomes more instinctual, I will feel that I breathe in the right amount to sing the song, without any conscious control, rather I will just allow it to happen, but it’s useful as as an idea of where I am now I think.


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