Matt Edwards

Associate Professor of Voice, Shenandoah Conservatory Artistic Director of the CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute

Mix it up Monday: How to Really Bomb a Master Class (Advice for Students)

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first-hydrogen-nuclear-bomb-test-1952-ivy-mike-reuters-rtxh6poToday I would like to share some wonderful advice from the one and only Richard Miller. Luckily I have never experienced all twenty-four of these in one class, but I have definitely have seen variations of most of these. Consider yourself warned! 🙂  ~Matt



  1. Although the advanced materials mention that all music to be performed in the public master class is to be memorized, come onto the stage carrying a copy of the music you are to sing, something you’ve looked at only recently.
  2. Announce to the master teacher that you have chosen to sing an item full of technical problems that you would like to have solved during twenty minutes allotted to you.
  3. Don’t warm-up in advance.
  4. Mention that you are in the midst of changing techniques, and that you want to demonstrate the two ways you can sing, to find out which one is right.
  5. When the master teacher points out things in need of improvement, insist that you never make those mistakes except when you are nervous.
  6. Choose an eight minute aria that will take up one third of your time. Look indignant if you’re interrupted.
  7. If, in the interest of time, you are requested to cut the da capo, plead to be allowed to sing it because you have embellished it.
  8. Choose something in a language that you have difficulty pronouncing.
  9. Begin by using up the time to explain to the master teacher and the audience the character in the dramatic situation. Make it funny.
  10. Announce that (a) you are just getting a cold, or (b) you are just getting over one.
  11. The first time you are corrected, cry.
  12. If male, wear red suspenders and no jacket; if female, wear unaccustomed high heels and a tight-waisted dress that looks great but is uncomfortable for singing, or
  13. Regardless of what your teacher may have advised, wear sneakers, jeans, and a sloppy sweater.
  14. Have friends whistle and cheer when you finish.
  15. Although a professional accompanist has been provided, use your mother.
  16. Enact the aria.
  17. Before you begin to sing, mention all of the shows you have been in and the contests you have won.
  18. Refuse to do any of the vocalizing patterns suggested.
  19. Always justify what you do: “I did that because _________.” Disagree with the master teacher on matters of technique and on interpretive suggestions.
  20. Be hesitant to admit that any of the technical suggestions are helpful. Refuse to recognize any differences in sound or sensation.
  21. Request to go later than scheduled, because you can’t sing before a certain hour of the day.
  22. Choose a Broadway tune when you know the master teacher is a Lieder specialist. Or, to avoid any silly diction corrections, sing something in Russian, Swedish, or Czech that you have learned phonetically, although neither the master teacher nor you knows the language.
  23. Publicly explain that you have always had very bad teachers, so that your faults are not your own responsibility.
  24. Near the close of your twenty-minute session (perhaps in the eighteenth minute), be sure to ask a complicated technical question that would take an additional 20 minutes to answer.

For more great information, check out Miller’s book “On the Art of Singing.” You can find the material from today’s post on pages 190-192.

3 comments on “Mix it up Monday: How to Really Bomb a Master Class (Advice for Students)

  1. Linda
    May 2, 2016

    And the follow-up is for the teachers on the following pages in Miller’s book!


  2. Pingback: Mix it up Monday: How to Really Bomb a Master Class (Advice for the Teacher) | Matthew Edwards

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This entry was posted on May 2, 2016 by in Misc. Thoughts.

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