My Philosophy of Teaching
“Chi sa respirare sa cantare; he who knows how to breath knows how to sing.”
If only it were that easy. Much like any mastery of a skill, however, a fundamental structure must be formed as the ethos for their discipline and built upon through daily practice and repetition. Learning how to breath correctly is the foundation of the Italian school of bel canto singing and the key to all great singing. In accordance with the teachers of old, I believe that singing must be taught empirically rather than scientifically. That a singer should have a working knowledge of their vocal anatomy and physiology is self-evident.
Singing is a sensate art and to impart this kind of knowledge to a student requires a method of teaching that allows the student to feel and know, through repetition, what is correct at a basic level. In an age of instant gratification and impatience many of us want to see immediate results or have all the answers, but with too much information it is easy to skip steps, get lost in the minutiae and lose the fundamentals. An artist cannot be made overnight. And while many students are able to label all of the components within the vocal mechanism, they often do not know how to translate that to practical application. These skills take time and perseverance to master, but through repetition of a proper breath, the correct form, structure and discipline can build this process into their psychomotor to where they become physicalized and inherent.
Listening is a skill that must be taught too. We must teach our students how to listen to themselves and others. The technological advances over the years have allowed students of this generation unprecedented access to some of the greatest singers in our history. We must educate them on what is great singing so they are attune on how to make intelligent comments and constructive criticisms for themselves and others. Students can learn so much about themselves just from listening and we must encourage it.
Once a singer has found their voice, they must then learn to make music. The attention to musical line, rhythm, diction, legato, and the intent of the composer must all be developed. This is experiencing the music on a deeper level than mere notes and pitches. This process is the joy of making music and what makes singing such a rich discipline. Singing integrates the physical, emotional and intellectual experience of each unique individual and has the power to move and inspire listeners with tremendous visceral impact.
The performing arts is about storytelling. This is why it is of the utmost importance to have singers from diverse backgrounds whether they are racial, ethnic, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical ability, social or economic class all be represented in the performing arts. We must be inclusive and provide a nurturing environment for all individuals so they are able to grow as true artists and we are able to champion their individuality and celebrate their unique gift. The gift is not “talent” or “il bacio di Dio” but rather the unique characteristics of the individual that make them and their voice special by being their authentic self. In teaching, it is my goal to help students discover this authenticity in themselves and their voice. I believe it is imperative in order to access your true voice and artistry.
It is with this understanding and framework I approach teaching. Teaching is an art. Perhaps the most daunting art of all, but to earn the sacred trust of a student through commitment and cooperation is so rewarding and an amazing responsibility. It is my desire to share my experience with a new generation of singers and to equip them with the tools to serve their art. It is my goal to help these young singers discover not only their true voice but also their truest self.