Crane Technique – why Mr Miyagi is the greatest singing teacher of all time

“Wax on… wax off…”

Wise words from the little Okinawan caretaker who was secretly the greatest Karate grand-master of all time.

Much like Yoda, and the venerable Master Po from Kung Fu, Mr Miyagi could enlighten even the dimmest of intellects with a well-chewed morsel of fortune-cookie wisdom.

Ply any self-respecting male of my generation with a few beers, and I’m sure more than a couple of them will confess to having had their arses handed to them in an embarrassing teenage scuffle, as they sought to win the day with an ill-conceived execution of Mr Miyagi’s famous “crane technique”.

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Crane technique and general Karate Kidding-around were much in evidence at Houston Grand Opera today as Fricka (the amazing Jamie Barton) and I were brought down to earth with a thump when confronted with our godly mode of transport, Fura dels Baus-style.

We and the other gods have to ride huge contraptions, a bit like movie-camera booms, the movement being controlled from below by two drivers. The effect is a little disarming, much like being on your own personal roller coaster, albeit one without any tracks to provide you a clue as to which way it might turn next.

As you can imagine when you’re expecting it to go one way and it goes another, it’s kind of hard to keep a straight face, let alone a straight voice. After a couple of hours of instruction from our incredibly patient drivers (God bless you Lorenzo and Lanvi!), we had developed our crane technique from yelping and giggling into something vaguely resembling singing.

I’m sure Mr Miyagi would have observed that, in the end, there is a simple technique at the heart of everything. (In this case, “stand still and let someone else do all the work” seems to be the gist of it).

Through it all, I couldn’t help wondering what Mr Miyagi might have had to say about singing. I revisited the movie scripts and, to my great surprise, I discovered that everything you ever need to know about singing is already there. Just substitute “singing” for “Karate” and you have the greatest singing lesson of your life.

Check it out:-

Mr. Miyagi’s Golden Rules of Singing

1 – “No such thing as bad student, only bad teacher. Teacher say, student do.”

2 – “First learn stand, then learn fly. Nature rule, Daniel-san, not mine.”

3 – “Better learn balance. Balance is key. Balance good, singing good. Everything good. Balance bad, better pack up, go home.”

4 – “Don’t forget to breathe. Very important.”

5 – “Ah, not everything is as seems…”

6 – “You trust the quality of what you know, not quantity.”

7 – “Sometimes what heart know, head forget.”

8 – “Walk on road, hmm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later get squish just like grape. Here, singing, same thing. Either you singing do “yes”, or singing do “no.” You singing do “guess so,”… [makes squish gesture]… just like grape.”

9 – “You remember lesson about balance? Lesson not just singing only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better.”

Still don’t get it? Then remember Miyagi’s final rule:-

10 – “Practice. You will.”

Right. I’ll be off to practice, then.

If anyone needs me, look for the nerd in the corner trying to catch a fly with a pair of chopsticks.


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