Why I Love Working With Opera Singers

25. April 2021

This article is written as part of the challenge #boomboomblog by @sympatexter.
From April 18 to 25, 2021 a group of more than 1000 people wrote a blog article together.

(Well, not ONE together but everyone their own.)

The topic was: “Why I love….” and then something about our work.

I had come up with several ideas and asked the community to vote. Most of them hadn’t heard before about the work of a pronunciation coach and didn’t know who’d need my services.

I guess, this was the main reason the vast majority chose “Why I love working with opera singers” as my topic.

I love working with opera singers at my "coaching station"
At my “coaching station” with laptop, camera, mic, earphones, piano and: the score

So, here we go!

I love working with opera singers because:


Opera singers are open-minded


Every singer I have worked with so far was willing to try out things.

Sometimes during coaching, my client may not be able to reproduce a certain sound. At that point, I reach into my big bag of tricks and dig up methods that may help to achieve correct diction:

Sometimes we try out different tongue, lip and jaw sets, goofing around for finding the right position.
Sometimes I give them an image they connect with the right sound (you wouldn’t believe what an image can do!), or I come up with some sort of mnemonic aid.

Whatever it is, singers are always open-minded enough to give unconventional approaches a chance 😉.

And what I enjoy most is exchanging different ideas on interpretation and listening to their points of views on their characters or the aspects of an art song. different ideas of interpretation.


I love that opera singers have a goal


Opera singers have a clear vision of what they want to achieve; this makes it easy for me to work with them. Whenever a singer books my services, they know what aria(s), song(s) or role they want to work on. Often, they have a time limit by which they want to sing their part as perfect as possible, for example for an audition, a performance or a recording.

I am still impressed to see the high level of dedication they throw themselves into their work with.

Working with opera singers requires a good ear
An excellent set of earphones and my equally excellent pair of ears help me to detect any flaws in pronunciation


I admire how opera singers combine body, mind and soul


Once, I heard a little girl say to her mother that “singing is just exhaling in pretty”.

There was the matter in a nutshell!
Yet, it’s so much more than that.

In fact, singers do no less than combine the physical, mental and emotional aspects of being to create something new.


Body

As a singer you know that singing is sort of a high-performance sport. It requires a lot of constant work to not only master one’s vocal technique but also be fit enough to get through rehearsals and performances that last hours.

The saying about singers that “their body is their instrument” is absolutely right!


Mind

Singers must not only have a vast knowledge about textual and musical context and correlations of their role/piece; they also often do extensive research on the historical, societal and musical background. Above all, they must know the languages they are singing in and show excellent pronunciation. 😊

Singing means life-long learning!


Soul

Body techniques and knowledge alone won’t make you a good singer. To make a performance outstanding, singers add their soul!

They feel their characters’ joys, pains and fear; they love, cry and rejoyce with them.
I doing so breathe life into their roles and let their audience slip into an other world.


I love to contribute to an excellent performance


To set things straight: all the credits for a good performance go to the performers!

Yet, the knowledge that my services and coaching sessions contribute to a good or even excellent performance is deeply satisfying!

Often, the difference between our first lesson and a performance or recording is immense! Only the singer and I usually know about all the blood, sweat and tears that paved the path to the final result. In hindsight we often can hardly believe how far we have come.

To be part of this progress is incredibly rewarding!

I love showing how to pronounce
I often use gestures and mimic to explain… 😉


I learn from every singer I work with


As I mentioned before, singers have a vast knowledge of music history and music theory; they usually play at least one instrument, and they know how to act.
Many of them speak several languages and can sing in even more languages.

I, on the other hand, know a good deal about poetic analysis, the use of language in music and repertoire and the overall background of musical pieces. I have learned to play three instruments and studied languages.

So, when a singer and I work together it’s more often than not an exchange of knowledge.

When we reach that point where we can go beyond diction and start talking about interpretation, we both bring our knowledge and personal experience to the table.

I profit so much from these exchanges and often use these new perceptions in upcoming lessons.


Opera singers are human


Classical music, especially classical singing to me always had and has a touch of mystery and magic to it.
Often, when I listen to a good performance or recording, I reach that point where I become totally absorbed.

It’s reassuring to know, though, that opera singers are no magicians or demi-gods but human beings. Talented and gifted – and hard-working! – but nevertheless: human.

They also have their bad days, they also make mistakes, and sometimes they also get frustrated when progress takes too long.

Just as often, however, we laugh during lessons, celebrate wins and rejoice whenever a difficult piece has been mastered.


Why I love working with opera singers?

Because they are the best clients in the world!

Love working with opera singers Heart with hands
I love working with opera singers!