The 19th EU-Japan Fest
"President of Estonian Choral Association / Conductor：Music Workshops by Mr. Aarne Saluveer"
Our first meeting with an Estonian choir: “We wish to connect the world through music”
”Exchange of spirits through borderless music” is what we have held in high esteem in our singing activities. Already at the time when we were in high-school we visited Finland, Russia, Romania, Spain and Korea and deepened the cultural exchanges through holding joint concerts with the local choirs there. We have always put a lot of weight on singing “with the local people” and “in the local language” and we were always able to feel the joy of getting smiles on our faces at both sides and getting to like each other from the bottom of our hearts through the act of sharing music.
It was July in the year 2009 when we had this fateful encounter. We met the representative Girls Choir from Estonia, Ellerhein. We were lucky to share the stage with them during their Sendai’s concert. I will never forget the feelings I had when all my existence got enwrapped into their beautiful voices. I felt the awesomeness in their unique vocalization and rich intonation, and in the way the melody become one with Mrs. Loitme’s conducting.
They taught us a new allure of singing in a chorus. They convinced us there were still many encounters with music we’ve never heard before waiting for us if we’d just turn our eyes to the world. We now wish to connect the world through the medium of music even more than before.
What I learned from Mr. Saluveer’s lesson.
I’m very honoured that I was able to participate Mr. Saluveer’s workshop in Japan.
At the beginning of the workshop, we performed a Japanese children’s rhyme from our repertoire. Mr. Saluveer nodded appraisingly, applauded and said: “Beautiful”. For the rest of the lesson he instructed us how do listen to our voices and gave advice for necessary training methods. He told us about three things – letting the breath fill one’s whole body; letting the tension in the body go and relax; listening to each other.
In order to let the breath fill one’s whole body, we did the following exercises.
First, while holding back the right side of one’s chest, one lets the air in as if it was only going to fill the right side of the lungs and then releases the breath quickly and powerfully with a hissing sound.
Then, while holding back the left side of one’s chest, one lets the air in as if it was only going to fill the left side of the lungs and then again releases the breath quickly and powerfully with a hissing sound.
Thirdly, while holding down both elbows with one’s hands, one lets the air in as if it was going to fill your back and then, again, releases it quickly and powerfully with a hissing sound.
Lastly, while holding one’s belly, one lets the air in filling out the belly and then releases it the same way as before, quickly and powerfully with a hissing sound.
We learned that it was important to let the breath to fill different parts of our bodies. We understood well that without breathing deeply throughout one’s whole body it is not possible to let out a fully sounding voice and we continued the breath training until we felt hot.
Next, for letting the tension in the body go and relax we practiced following things.
Firstly, we were told to try to move the inner parts of our mouths in a way as if we were chewing a gum and then, let the breath out with a “boooh” sound whilst letting the tongue to fluctuate and unhardening the lips.
Next we were told to raise our elbows high and then at once let all the power from the body go and relax.
We learned that when our bodies are tense it’s not possible to let out a gentle soft voice. What’s more, the tension leads to forcing oneself to hard when letting out a very high or a very low voice, which in turn will lead to straining the vocal chords.
Lastly, for getting to know how to properly listen to each other in a choir we did the following things.
Firstly, we sang in pairs facing each other while looking into the partner’s face. Then we formed circles of three and tried to sing while listen to both of the partner’s voices.
We learned that even when there is no conductor around it’s important to sing looking at each other and listening to each other. By turning to face each other we started naturally pay attention to “tuning” our voices and by listening to each other in small groups we could match the timbre.
During the lesson we sang in turns, the 3 one who stood in the first row went to the front next by next. I was one of them and I become nervous when my turn came but while actually trying the teachings out I noticed that by facing each other I really was more consciously matching my voice with the partner and the pitch and the timber of our voices miraculously came out fitting each other well.
During the lesson Mr. Saluveer constantly used the expression of “paying attention to”. We learned that it’s very important to listen to one’s own voice and listen to the voices of the persons next to you as well as listen well to the harmony made by the fellows; it’s important to constantly set one’s antennas high in order to pay attention to how one’s own voice blends into the surrounding voices. Also, we learned that without being considerable to one’s fellows it’s not possible to listen to the other’s voices consciously in the way like that. During the lesson Mr. Saluveer repeatedly made us even more aware of our fellow’s voices by telling us: “Listen to each other more”; and it struck my heart most when he said: “Create a harmony like you cannot create without these fellows”. Through this lesson I felt I’m grateful I can sing with the present members and how important they are for me, and that I want to continue singing with them.
I wish I can meet Mr. Saluveer again but next time in Estonia. I’m really looking forward to have a chance to let our voices to be heard in Estonia, the Country of Choirs.