The Things We Say : The World According to Ms. Alison

The Things We Say

by Alison Lund on 06/06/13


Music teachers say many of the same things many, many, many times.  There is after all a limit to how many ways you can find to point out that the left is not in fact the right hand.  If you have any suggestions please, please, please put them in the comments box.

It's always hilarious when students pick up on some of my best attempts to make particularly repetitive cues at least somewhat amusing and start using them themselves.  ("Oh yeah, the OTHER left hand" comes up a lot).  Mostly though they just roll their eyes on an epic scale and patiently inform me, "Ms. Alison, you ALWAYS say that".  Best of all is the apparently reflexive imitation of my accent, which pops up, confusingly, in several key terms.  "Wrist" becomes "rest", "F" becomes "if"...and so on.

Barbara Kierig, a.k.a. "The Bag", died recently.  She was my voice teacher throughout my graduate work, and one of my most significant mentors, in the very broadest sense.  This seems a fitting time to share some of her more notorious Bagisms, the less colorful of which tend to pop up, apparently reflexively, in my own teaching.  At least I try to keep it to the less colorful.

1.  "It's not that bad.  But it could be" (re. mistakes, musical or otherwise).
2.  "Beyond the shadow of an embryo of a doubt..." (to emphasize any salient point about anything at all).
3.  "Fantastic.  You/I need that like a boil implant" (self-explanatory).
4.  "Honey, just don't.  It's boring" (re. perpetuating self-doubt, musical or otherwise).
5.  "Can you see your Baloonkas?" (re. correct head position).
6.  "Bag's wired" (i.e., you'd better be ready to work like a dog).
7.  "He is behaving...a teeny tiny bit like an as!@#$%" (again, self-explanatory).

Given the deeply personal nature of our relationship, many of these statements multi-tasked nicely in reference to Unfortunate Life Events (#7 was one of my favorites.  I may even have used it as the tag of a Tango composition.  Can neither confirm nor deny).

The Bag Vocab is part of her extensive and irreplaceable legacy to hundreds, maybe even thousands of young singers in their formative musical and personal years.  If I have even the shadow of an embryo of a hope of living up to that, I'd better come up with some more compelling phrases myself!

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