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In this interview, Lorna discusses how performers can develop a unique sound through continual practice and why rehearsals are essential in professional productions. She also mentions how musicians can draw inspiration from the classical genre and the listening trends she notices among younger people.
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Interviewer: Is musicality innate, or would you say that it can be acquired through practice?
I think both. I think musicality is definitely innate, but it can be taught and an inhibited student can be helped to feel more confident and therefore in the interpretation of the music in their own way they can bring out a musicality that one may not have thought one had.
Interviewer: Now there are those who claim to have the natural voice but can one obtain a certain voice for singing do you think?
There are people who have a naturally good voice. I think it comes with them - actually it's called a certain kind of a placement of the voice. I know that sounds kind of esoteric, but there is a naturalness to the better voices. But, often people who find singing very easy don't continue to sing to practice and to acquire a technique, where the person who may not have that great talent to begin with and study technically will get to a further spot - a further place as a singer, definitely. I've seen it and heard it many times. So, technique is important absolutely essential.
Interviewer: What are some of the ways that music has benefited you?
Well really it has benefited me by providing me with musical education in piano and voice and then therefore the ability to have a career starting with the Canadian opera company and then other opera companies around the world. And of course, it’s benefiting me now by teaching singing and helping others to reach those personal goals and musical goals. It’s a great benefit to me personally.
Interviewer: So you've had quite an illustrious career in the opera business as a music teacher. Do you notice the arts and the musical arts becoming more popular?
I think that the classical musical arts aren't necessarily becoming more popular, but other kinds of music are becoming very, very popular, as you know you know, with hip hop, and I can't say jazz. Jazz has always been popular, but the music that teenagers listen to today and actually through my grandchild listening to the Disney channel on the radio many young kids are now flash in the pan singers. So that's all become very, very popular, but the fact that there's not much music in the home anymore, and with working parents, there's no time nor inclination for family participation. Kids are left to listen to the more popular music of today.
Interviewer: Is classical something that musicians should look to for inspiration first?
That's a really good question. When I think of the music that I listened to growing up, with Elvis Presley and those people I'm sure it was thought of then, as I'm talking about popular music now. I think that definitely older people are going to the symphonies and the operas and listening to the radio and other channels of classical music. But, I think that also the cost of going to a classical concert is becoming prohibitive. Although, I can say that going to something like Les Mis or some of the musicals that are done in Toronto and around the world, the cost is prohibitive. So, I suppose kids just listen to the radio. They don't go to the classic concerts, where costs may be prohibitive, but they will save their money and go to these big concerts where the performers are singing their popular kind of music that they hear on the radio.
Interviewer: Is it important for people to explore classic music – is less complex music limiting?
Well no, because most kids are not taking music lessons and don't realize that it is less complex. It is just easy on the ear and listening gives them a good feeling and they're able to dance to it and it's a kind of “whole person” kind of a feeling.
Interviewer: Do you think if more people took music lessons than the classical area would be revived?
Yes I do. When I look at the number of participants, particularly in the Kiwanis festival and those kind of festivals, the other numbers have dropped enormously through the years. And so, therefore students aren't learning the classics. They're not learning to sing technically well.
Interviewer: I'm fascinated by the classical revolution and how to keep that going, because I know it is an important area in education.
I don't think enough people are taking advantage. But, the cost for instance of a student going into a festival or taking the Royal Conservatory exam, I must say I'm quite horrified by the cost of those two things. So, therefore it's much easier for a child or student to get an iPod or to listen to the radio or whatever than it is to take lessons and then participate.