University of Miami Vocal Forum by Andrew Funk

Thank you to the wonderful students at the University of Miami Frost School of Music, Department of Vocal Performance for a lively Vocal Forum last Friday. It was great to get a chance to speak with so many of you! -- Andrew

Woodshedding! by Alicia Berneche

I have been preparing old arias for an upcoming audition. I have sung them since my early twenties, so there are lots of old tongue tensions, weird vowels, bad musical ideas, etc. in them. I find the process of bringing my mature musical style to my old arias, while hard work, very satisfying. I need a recorder, of course, to hear exactly what I am doing, plus a mirror, because habits are hard to break without complete awareness. 


I found the biggest problem I had was tempo. Who would have thought that speed of the aria could be the biggest problem? I was singing them with the nostalgia of youth, lingering on passages I really liked, and generally wallowing in my sound. Got out my handy dandy metronome, set to exactly what is written (or suggested) in the score, and sang it over and over in those tempos. Suddenly, most of the tight breaths, weird vowels, and tongue tension left. It reminded me of a funny quote from the great conductor Frederik Prausnitz. I had the pleasure of working with him at Peabody Conservatory when he taught the conductors. One of the conductors was doing the Strauss Four Last Songs, taking a very indulgent and luscious tempo. Prausnitz stopped him and asked him why he chose that tempo. The conductor said because it was beautiful. Prausnitz widened his eyes and said, "Remember this is sung by a human being."

I was taking tempos not capable by a human being.

We are so lucky today to have the tools we have--metronomes, recorders, mirrors, walls, all of the things we can use to monitor our bodies.  --  Alicia

Added to my training! by Alicia Berneche

Hi, All! 

Participated in a workshop on tools for speaking and reading more fluently. It is so interesting how little things can prevent someone who reads well to themselves from translating that into effective public delivery. Our brains sometimes are so much faster than our mouths so much of the time. I was working with a student yesterday who is an excellent reader, but who absolutely cannot translate that into reading out loud. We had to do so many breaths and pauses just to give her mouth time to catch up with her brain. For her, she felt like she was reciting "in slow motion" because her brain was going so much faster. For the first time, though, she was able to read out loud without stumbling over every other word.

I think that is why I love teaching. It is an endless puzzle, but the reward at the end is the joy of my students when they tackle a problem.   --  Alicia

Welcome to the North Shore Vocal Studio! by Andrew Funk

We are proud to announce the formation of the North Shore Vocal Studio!  Alicia and I have been hard at work putting the finishing touches on the web site. We both feel that the North Shore of the Chicago area would benefit from our combined years of vocal teaching and performing experience. We teach opera/classical, Broadway, blues, pop, and just about any other kind of music you can imagine that involves the voice. We also provide public speaking coaching and seminars to those who wish to improve their vocal delivery.  Thank you so much, and we look forward to hearing from you!  --  Andrew