Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Master Teacher Class for Musical Theater and Classical Singing

I recently attended the Greater Philadelphia NATS Chapter’s first event, Spring Audition Workshop with Master Teachers Robert Edwin and Valery Ryvkin.  I was very inspired both as a teacher and a singer.  Every time I attend a workshop or masterclass, I look forward to gleaning new insights and motivation.  This inspiration comes from what the clinicians have to say and from the singers and music itself. 

When listening to the singers for the first time, I first enjoy the performance itself.  Listening to the work, the artistry, and the passion of singing is always fun.  It is wonderful to hear new music and/or be reminded of a good song for one’s current students.  As a singer, it is a great experience to perform songs many times.  This enables one to continue to make each song in your repertoire as good as it possibly can be for your next audition or performance!  I am then excited to hear how each master teacher will work with the singer and how the singing may change in that next 20 minutes. 
The new or slightly rephrased information we hear from the master teacher helps us to continue to educate both our students and ourselves as teachers.  When technique is addressed using slightly different terminology by another teacher, it brings a new twist that can be applied in the studio or practice room.  There may be many similar concepts that I have addressed in lessons or new and different ones.  By using different terminology or imagery, it may help a student truly grasp the concept that I have already addressed or a new twist to really drive it home.   

For example, Valery Ryvkin talked about  ‘savoring the words by bringing out the beginning of the words’ in a German piece.  When the student then applied the technique, we could truly hear the difference.  The singer really understood the meaning of the words and therefore delivered the phrase with much more passion.  I continually address understanding the meaning of the text (especially in a foreign language) and knowing what each word means to use word emphasis in the phrasing.  Saying the word emphasizing the initial consonants and then singing it had the desired effect when singing.
Robert Edwin addressed musical theater belt by thinking wider or east-west in feel in essence taking out the weight of the belt to make your belt get higher.  I use different terminology to achieve the same goal, but this made sense to me and something I will apply.  When the singer for the master class used the technique, wow you could see the difference. 

When attending educational workshops, it is wonderful to learn new things or new ways to apply things you know as a teacher or singer.  Think outside of your box.  Use it in practice, not just inside your own head.  Robert Edwin addressed the musical theater singer and how truly versatile a singer must be in order to sing musical theater.  They must be able to sing legit, belt, pop, a myriad of styles all within the style.  While we all know the variety exists, do we know that all are able to be achieved with continual work on different parts of the voice?   Do we say that all out loud?  As a teacher, yes.  But do my students know that?  I must remind them and continually work on widening their horizons and my own education and skills to be the best teacher I can be. 

Teachers, get involved in your local NATS chapter or continual education by attending workshops or participating in online discussions.  If you live in the Greater Philadelphia area, join us!  We can always improve our own teaching skills and thus our singers accomplishments.  Singers, do as your teachers say and ‘practice, practice, practice’ and be in touch with what your body is doing each day and how it responds to that practice. 

Stay tuned next week for why YOU as a singer should do the next Audition Competition, Masterclass, Voice Recital, Workshop or Summer Program!

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