Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Why is it Valuable to Participate in a Masterclass?

Often times I get the questions, "What is a Masterclass? and Why should I sing there?".  There are many types of Masterclasses and many reasons to participate.  In a masterclass atmosphere, you get the opportunity to sing for others in front of others knowing that you may not be performing a finished product. You get to work on the selection  with others being present and learn from what that teacher or presenter has to offer other singers.

There are 2 main  types of masterclasses- 1) The studio members with the studio teacher only 2) Performers with the studio teacher and another guest presenter or teacher.

The idea of a masterclass with just your teacher is that you work on your music with them in front of others. It is a performance opportunity in a low stress atmosphere.  The teacher is able to interact with you and get others input of the performance at the same time.  You get to hear what a teacher says to another student.  It may be something you have heard before that may impact you differently or said in a new way.

A masterclass with an additional presenter or specialist of a related area is to offer new but related information to you and your performance.  A different voice teacher may say similar things, but just differently enough that it makes a larger impact.  An acting teacher adds a new dimension to your performance.

Often times masterclasses have a theme as well.  I recently hosted masterclasses with an acting coach where we focused on how acting out a musical theater piece (and allowing movement) impacted the performance and voice quality.  I also had a brief yoga session at the beginning of the masterclass to show how opening up the body with yoga impacts the singing voice.

Here are some responses of a Q & A with students of a recent Masterclass on Movement and Acting in Singing:

1.  What is the most valuable thing you learned in the recent masterclass on movement and acting while singing?
-  How you interpret the music & how incorporate hand motions to the music
 - I learned to relax and use my whole body more than just my top half
- Opportunity to perform in a low stress, educational environment and know I was only going to improve
- How to open my ribs and use the air really in my lungs 

2.  What was your favorite part of the masterclass?
 - Performing the song & getting feedback
 - Yoga (multiple responses)
  - Vocal warm-ups and Yoga which opened body better for singing

3.  What do you think you will carry away from the masterclass and use in your singing?  
 - The tips on hand motions & how to incorporate them and acting
-  I will carry away more confidence in my movements and allow myself to flow more and be more natural looking
- To use more acting in my singing
- How to see the person that you are singing about in a song and simulate that in a performance

4.  What would you like to see addressed in future masterclasses?
- More time for individual instruction
- More group instruction/time on yoga and acting in general
- How to use the space around you while singing

As you can see, each student takes something different away from a masterclass.  This depends on where they are in their journey of singing.  Each masterclass can be tailored to certain teaching concepts, enhancing the learning process even more!  In this particular masterclass we were working on really acting out the piece you are singing and how that enhances the performance!  This masterclass was effective in explaining to students that yoga is very valuable to singing and that movement while singing is natural and improves your performance!

What are your thoughts on the benefits of a masterclass?  What do you want out of participating or want your students to gain from the experience?

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