Mix it up Monday: How to Really Bomb a Master Class (Advice for the Teacher)
A few weeks ago I posted Richard Miller’s brilliant advice for the singer. Today I want to share his advice for the master teacher. Enjoy!
- Begin by being anecdotal, recalling your own impressive performance career. Recount having been embraced on stage by Bernstein, and what Ormandy said about your artistry; mention how many times you have sung each of your major roles, and in which houses.
- Follow this with an account of how you selflessly gave up a major career to devote yourself to teaching.
- Sit at a desk or table, just out of range of the singer’s vision, and while smiling and swaying to the music, conduct with your pencil.
- Sit in a chair next to the piano and conduct the accompanist. Then spend a large part of the twenty minutes in instructing the pianist as to how the piece should be played.
- When working in a large hall, insist that your speaking voice has wonderful projection, and refuse to use a microphone.
- Interrupt the singer after the first eight bars.
- Convey your suggestions privately to the singer so that the audience members (who have paid a registration fee) cannot hear the comments.
- Begin immediately to point out what is wrong and avoid mentioning anything positive about either the voice or the performance.
- Claim to teach bel canto.
- Make several quite minor suggestions and ask the singer to sing the entire piece over again. (This will fill much of the time if you are at a loss as to what to do).
- With a sorrowful shake of the head, mention that the assigned repertoire is totally wrong.
- With another shake of the head, mention that the assigned repertoire is totally wrong.
- Make constant running comments to the student as he or she is singing.
- Sing along with the student, especially if you yourself have sung the aria.
- Avoid all technical suggestions for fear of offending the people who invited you.
- Tell the singer he or she has no talent and should not continue studying.
- Insist on accepting only your tempo, interpretation, embellishments, and cadential figures.
- Spend a lot of additional time with the singer you most enjoy; cut short the sessions with the others, particularly if they are not especially gifted.
- Keep looking at your watch or the clock on the wall.
- As the singer performs, stare intently at a copy of the music with your head buried in it, then lecture the singer on how best to communicate the text to the audience.
- Make the same suggestion to everyone, regardless of the individual problem.
- Give a mini-lecture of eight to ten minutes about the composer’s intent.
- Describe the circumstances under which the poem was created; include details of the poet’s life, especially if they are a bit bizarre.
- Above all, be artistically grand and speak from Mount Olympus.
Thanks for reading!