Musical Magic

This past Monday, mezzo-soprano and voice teacher Nadine Kulberg ( made musical magic at Ekphrasis. In just four hours, she turned people’s voices and lives around under the direction of her technical expertise and loving guidance.NK

When a few people shared vocal numbers at an Ekphrasis meeting several months ago, it became apparent that we needed to have some professional instruction in placement, technique, and vocal hygiene. In our moment of cultural history, the “untrained” is glorified, with horrific medical and music results. I do not want any of my members to end up having throat surgery because they’re trying to sing like Adele!

So we brought Nadine down from New York City to give us a masterclass. Never was an evening better spent.

Nadine began with a presentation about the anatomy of the voice. She has a strong belief that knowledge is powerful and healing: knowing how the voice works—what the vocal cords do, how breath functions, and so forth—enables someone to understand why certain technique is correct. It’s not a matter of taste: it’s a matter of health.

Throughout her talk, Nadine showed us diagrams of the anatomy of the voice, and also guided us through brief exercises to illustrate her points. It was essential that we each feel the impact of her facts in addition to learning about them with our minds. We learned about raising the soft palate, breathing from the diaphragm, avoiding breathiness, and letting one’s best voice free.

And then… and THEN!! Then Nadine began working with people individually. This is where she really shone. She took each person’s buried, twisted, strained voice and set it free! See, the trouble is that as a singer, you can’t hear what your voice sounds like, because you’re in your head, and the voice is out there. So you have to trust your technique, your audience, and your recordings. It’s a very difficult process. Nadine tried to begin that for each person who participated.

First, Andrew Stirling MacDonald sang “The Blower’s Daughter” from Damien Rice’s album O.

Second, Marian B. sang a selection from “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Then we took a break and recommenced with ensemble work: In a few minutes, Nadine taught us part of “Va, Pensiero” (“Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves”) from Verdi’s Nabucco—in Italian! It was astonishing to hear how we came from nothing to a reasonable little choir. Amazing.

Then Betsy G. sang part of “Gollum’s Song,” Curt Day a bit of his own jazz arrangement of “Silent Night,” Amanda L. the whole of “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story, and Jim F. shared some of “Ode to Joy” in German!

(Aren’t we a talented group? J )

Let me know if you want to hire Nadine to work with your choir or other group!


About Sørina Higgins

Sørina Higgins is a writer, English teacher, and Inklings scholar. Sørina serves as Chair of the Department of Language and Literature at Signum University and teaches English at King's College and Lehigh Carbon Community College. She has published two books of poetry, "The Significance of Swans" and "Caduceus."

One thought on “Musical Magic

  1. Sharon says:

    That sounds amazing! I wish I could have been there.

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