Well, I’m finally getting so many student requests that I think it prudent to put up a page about my teaching. As many of you may know, I live in Turin, in northwestern Italy. I have now taught a total of ONE online class to a very patient and eager current student, but I will be happy when we can again do lessons in person. My current students run the gamut from international students who come in town from other countries for a three- to five-day blitz of daily lessons, to singers living in Italy who come in once a month or so, to local singers who come weekly (pre-Covid, that is.) I mainly deal with young professionals finishing their schooling or just starting out in their careers. I do not teach teenagers and I certainly will not teach children.
I have been doing this singing thing for over 28 years now. (I started singing professionally in between my junior and senior years at university!) I have learned so much from all the teachers, coaches and conductors over the years, and I think it is important that I pass on the meshing together of the information from all these smart people! Among the many instrumental teachers and coaches in my development have been Norma Newton, Regine Crespin, Gerald Martin Moore, Barbara Moore, Patrick Summers, Marlena Malas, Hans Hotter, Regina Resnik, Marco Boemi, Irene Aitoff, Susanna Lemberskaya, Ethel Evans, Elena Servi-Burgess, Rita de Letteriis, Cathy Cathcart, David Miller, Jonathan Papp, Janine Reiss, and Bryndon Hassman, among countless others! Not to mention the great conductors who have taught me so much!
So I have started teaching privately when I am in between engagements – and sometimes during engagements, if a student is nearby. In addition, I have started giving masterclasses when I can, either during the run of a show, or in conjunction with a recital tour.
I have also mentored a few young professionals and one very talented beginner who is now a young professional himself. I have been a mentor and consultant to the Bolshoi Young Artist program in Moscow, where I gave countless masterclasses, taught at the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy (COSI) in Sulmona, the Tito Gobbi estate in Rome, and have done a residency at University of Texas at Austin, as well as masterclasses at other opera houses’ young artist programs and in many universities (Loyola, Baylor, SMU, Texas State University, Southwestern University, Dallas Opera…)
I have a lot to offer students not only in the information I have to transmit (with a very keen ear!), but also in the human, humane and humorous manner in which I can cajole and entice them into stretching themselves and into learning new ways to listen and correct themselves. I have had some miraculous transformations of students, and I am proud that my long-term students are having professional successes, as well. I think it is important to give students tools to work on the different vocal challenges they are trying to correct, and for them to discover how to work on their own, once I am not there. I believe that the biggest talent in singing is not innate talent, but knowing how to work, and actually enjoying the work so that you put the time and effort into it that is needed for excellence. Students have to learn how to hear themselves, feel what they are doing right/wrong, and learn how to recreate the right way. This is what makes for exciting singing, because it is not happenstance – it is stable and consistent. Some students only get a fantastic sound by chance: this is not talent, and this is not enough. I can help students discover how to work and how to become more consistent singers.
Then, of course, there is the continual development of the ear. Singers don’t realize that things were not “so much easier when I was younger…” They just didn’t require as much of themselves and were complacent with what they heard. As singers, we have to consciously get pickier and pickier about what we accept as a beautiful sound from ourselves, and as a result, we can make amazing developments in our singing. Good singers are constantly analyzing sound, even though they may not consciously be aware of it all the time. I try to get students to make this process of analyzing and incorporating elements into vocal technique a conscious one.
The singer’s whole “package” is important, once they have their technique under control. I had to work extensively on my posture, acting, languages, and expression, and as a result I am in an optimal position to teach these acquired skills. I am especially proud these days when often my acting gets mentioned first in reviews. I did not start out as a good performer at all – – acting and stage presence are two things that I had to work extensively to acquire. My first teacher Barbara Hill Moore helped “put me together” and taught me how to present myself, and I followed up that by intensively studying acting with Ethel Evans at San Francisco Opera and Sabin Epstein of American Conservatory Theater.
My love for languages led me to pursue a second degree – in foreign languages, which has served me well in my life: I have lived in Belgium and Italy for the past 25+ years, besides traveling all over the world with my career! I’m fluent in French, Italian and Spanish, and conversant in German and Dutch, besides a smattering of Japanese and Russian.
In private studies, I work intensively with students, (pedantically sometimes!) and usually spend at least an hour and a half per lesson. I expect students to be highly motivated to record their lessons, take notes, review them, and work hard on the exercises given them in between lessons. I am interested in working with singers who are serious about making a career in opera singing and have the talent and work ethic to make it happen.
For students interested in studying with me at my home in Turin, Italy, I require a recent video or audio selection as an audition, and/or a recommendation by someone I know and trust. If you are a school or organization that is interested in me giving a masterclass there, please feel free to contact me, as well. After having a second baby last year, I am interested more and more at being closer to home, and away from home for shorter periods, so please take advantage of that! :-)
My in-person sessions often last a couple of hours, as I like to make sure the student knows WHY I am asking them to do things, not just blindly do them. Fancy that! I work best with students who are willing to just TRY, and let themselves be frustrated because it may not work exactly like they want the first time. Also, I relish in-time feedback and when my students have well-informed questions and challenge me to explain something better to them. I expect us to get to know each other, and play with our resonances and resonators in order to find a language that we both can use to get to a consistent sound every time. Working extremely technically, I think that technique is what allows us to color and hue the music, and allows us to touch people with the innate beauty of each voice.
My lessons are discovery periods for both of us, and I expect students to both record lessons (with video, if possible) AND take written notes. I find that the latter actually helps cement things into the brain. Frequently I ask students to analyze what they have just done when they give me a result that I like. This is how they can learn how to recreate it on their own. How did it feel? How did it sound in their head? What were they doing/not doing? What were they thinking?
My work is painstaking (and sometimes annoyingly so, I bet); but I want to make sure that my students know what we are doing and why we are doing it, what we are striving for, and hear/feel the difference when something is “ok” versus when something is fantastic.
I love having regular students, but I also love to give students the tools to try and keep themselves on track when they are away from me, and make discoveries themselves. I hate the whole guru phenomenon, and hope I do not ever play into it! I believe that each person’s technique is THEIRS and what may work for them may not work for someone else. That’s fine. I hope to help fill your bag of tricks with solutions to your vocal problems, and stretch your horizons.
I am also chock full of career advice, and have decided to also do a “consult” for students who perhaps need a bit of guidance on that front rather than need to work on technique.
Currently, I am setting up lessons online (not my favorite, I must admit, but necessary these days.) I will take on new students in this format on a case-by-case basis.
If you would like to book a lesson or a consult with me, please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send me a letter of intent (what you want to accomplish with your lessons), an example of your singing, and your resume. I will get back to you as soon as I can.