Each of our seven full-time studio teachers brings their vast performing and teaching experience to every lesson. Collectively, our knowledge of vocal repertoire extends from medieval motets to new works not yet premiered in all genres of solo and chamber composition. Each voice major receives a full-hour individual lesson every week along with a weekly studio class. Our voice students benefit from an individually assigned student collaborative pianist who rehearses and performs with their partner in lessons, studio classes and other in-school performances, including departmental and degree recitals. These collaborative partnerships are intended to extend over one or more academic years, allowing voice students to develop their artistic expression in tandem with their skills in collegial music-making.
Individual lessons are structured to allow time for supervised warmup and cooldown, diagnostic and technical work, developmental exercises, strategies for applying vocal technique while learning new pieces, and working collaboratively with a pianist to shape assigned repertoire for performance. Details of breath management, phonation, resonation, articulation and musical nuance are perfected week by week. Daily practice routines and goals for each lesson are determined specifically to guide each student’s continual growth and to meet target performance dates. Each student must have their teacher’s approval for all auditions and performing they do while they are enrolled at Eastman. This policy maintains a dynamic dialogue between teacher and student to safeguard against over-commitment of vocal resources and to maximize the potential success of each endeavor.
Our program provides the ideal laboratory for applying the language and aural skills our undergraduate students acquire in their required humanities and music theory courses. Art songs from early Italian ariette, to German Lieder, French mélodies, and English song of all eras are integral to this linguistic and musical growth. Thus, each year, in conjunction with required foreign language study, our primary song repertoire centers on that language as well. This allows accelerated assimilation of language sounds and grammar along with in-depth study of the cultural context of poetic and musical settings.
As undergraduate students develop their physical and technical ability, we introduce the study of stage repertory, including standard opera, operetta and music theater arias and songs in Italian, German, French, English, Russian, Spanish, and Czech. This coincides with the theatrical stage and acting technique courses taught by our opera faculty. Our goal is to layer in the application of vocal and language technique along with learning how to move and express on stage. Undergraduates are eligible, with teacher approval, to audition for our opera productions beginning in May of their first year.
Graduate students in voice often have lingering technical challenges that require intense work in the master’s degree to provide a solid basis for beginning professional opportunities such as competitions, young artist programs and concert engagements. Our faculty meets each student where they are and gives both honest feedback and transformative instruction to make the most tangible progress possible over the two years of this degree. Our doctoral students, likewise, experience immense vocal and artistic growth while they engage in learning more about vocal pedagogy from coursework and from practical teaching experience. They also have the opportunity to collaborate more extensively with their pianist partners in three degree recitals, one of which is a lecture recital based on independent research. All our graduate students are eligible for casting in our opera productions and for participation in our in-house vocal competitions.
Our undergraduate curriculum in vocal performance requires a full year of vocal pedagogy coursework. The first semester focuses on anatomy, history, acoustics, and physiological development relating to the singing and speaking voice, along with structuring lessons to achieve technical goals. The second semester applies this knowledge base in supervised student instruction of two subjects for a full semester, including strategies for diagnosis and correction of basic vocal faults, exercises for healthy tone production and technical work on appropriate repertoire selections.
Our graduate program offers a two-semester sequence of advanced vocal pedagogy for elective credit. These courses, or their equivalents, are a pre-requisite for all doctoral teaching assistants.