By Dianne Legro
You know what music is? God’s little reminder that there’s something else besides us in this universe, a harmonic connection between all living beings, every where, even the stars. – Robin Williams in August West
I’m so glad Robin Williams said that.
I remember as a child feeling ecstatic listening to the whisper of the wind in the trees, birdsong, the chime of bells in the distance. The feeling touched my soul and made me want to sing, and I sang everywhere I went. On hilltops, beaches, woods, in school, church…you name it.
Today, in my school programs and music workshops I tell kids that story and ask if they have had this feeling too. Always, all the hands fly up. They have it, and luckily most adults tell me they remember it, too. Feeding my soul and others’ souls by making a connection to the language of spirit through performing music and teaching has become one of my life’s greatest joys.
Good music speaks to you. Classical, Broadway or art song, it can change you.
Another genre I have watched become a revelation to many singers and audiences is the music of our great American Songbook of standards. Songs by composers such as Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Dorothy Parker, are also lovely reminders of why we want to sing in the first place. These wonderful, witty, playful, elegant songs have the ability to engage great fun, and arouse deep feelings in both the audience and the performer.
Singers wishing to excel in their chosen genre can grow and enhance their expressive range from studying this repertoire. Artists from Dame Kiri Te Kanawa to Rod Stewart are finding these songs and making them their own. Some of my recent favorites performers of the Songbook rep are Kristen Chenoweth, Audra McDonald, Harry Connick Jr., Diana Krall, and of course the beloved Barbara Cook. All are “crossovers” who have discovered these love songs (love lost, found or searching for), comedies, ballads and up-tempo character songs in the collections and reinvent these gems in their own style.
If you are a beginner singer, or a student, or a lifetime learner who loves to sing, these songs are a gift. The songs are easy to learn and they get better and better as you discover what they mean to you. Do you dream of putting a few songs together in a set and performing for friends and at parties? That’s called cabaret! All you need is a piano or recorded accompaniment. Many singers love to do just that, and I love to help singers put the right songs together with a little rhythm and deliver them with confidence and delight.
Anyone wishing to expand their skills and connect with others who appreciate this music are invited to attend American Songbook at South Shore Conservatory’s One Conservatory Drive, Hingham location on Thursday nights from 6:00-7:30 starting on November 2. We will meet for six weeks to learn and sing and hone the craft of performing these songs. Come discover and enjoy!
For more information on this and other voice department programs, visit http://sscmusic.org/class_american-songbook.htmlhttp://sscmusic.org/voice_department.html or call 781-749-7565, x 10.
Broadway veteran Dianne Legro has been a professional singer since age 11 and has enjoyed an international career as an award-winning performer and teaching artist. American Songbook is the first class she is teaching at South Shore Conservatory.