Friday, May 08, 2009

Report: 15th Free the Voice seminar in Frankfurt

Near Easter each year, Dr Hochs Konservatorium and the German Musician's Association host and sponsor the singing technique seminar "Free the Voice". Cornelius Reid himself gave the masterclass for the first 10 years and handed the reigns over to Carol Baggott-Forte, when, at 92 years of age, he decided it was too much to travel to Europe. I first attended the seminar in 1996 and have been hooked on Funtional Voice Training ever since. I attended every year when Cornelius was still coming, traveled to New York City to have lessons with him and found myself teachers employing his theories here in Germany. The first year Carol took the masterclass over I was only in town for 1 day, so I listened and was impressed. She seems to channel Cornelius in mannerisms, but she has her own style. She is extremely knowledgeable and yet intuitive, combined with a kind of fearlessness she gets amazing results in a short period of time, just like Cornelius did.

It always seemed to be the same situation, that I was traveling when Carol was in Frankfurt and so I had one lesson with her until 2006. By that time I'd moved to London and was gladly informed that she was doing a seminar in Brighton, just a short train ride away. It was amazing. I had had a bad cold, basically losing my voice and 3 weeks later it hadn't really recovered. I was still having trouble with notes in the upper passaggio and above and I was traveling to the US the week after the seminar to sing concerts with Elysium. Ack! Carol worked magic on my voice, took me in a new direction, which has turned out to be the beginning of wonderful changes in my voice and technique and I felt like I'd never sung better! Since then I've attended nearly every class Carol has given in Europe traveling to Lyon and Paris, France and to Frankfurt and also organized for Carol to teach in Hannover in February.

This years seminar was a good experience. I was able to attend for an entire week, listening to lessons for upwards of 6 hours a day and having 3 lessons myself. Unfortunately, I had had a(nother) cold just after the St. John's Passion concert and was still hacking up pflegm from under my larynx just days before going to Frankfurt. I had a lesson on the first day of the seminar and the cords were still swollen. They decided they were done after about 15 minutes. Until then it was a very good lesson. :-) I waited until the end of the week to take the other 2 lessons and they were great.

I wanted to insert the recording of my last lesson that I made on my phone, but for some reason it won't upload. Sigh.

Listening to lessons is a very valuable experience as well and I always try to listen to as many as I can. It's interesting to hear the progression from one lesson to the next as well. Carol's focus is more and more on professional singers and teachers of singing, so the level of the singers attending is quite high. There's not a whole lot of relevance for my own teaching since I teach beginners, young singers and amateurs for the most part, but it's ear-training which is all-important.

And the great news is that it appears Carol is serious about moving to Europe for at least part of the year. Her husband is Italian and she really enjoys doing these seminars here so they are now taking steps to make it a reality. She doesn't know where they'll "settle", but anywhere in Europe would be really helpful and facilitate any classes she gives around Europe. w00t!!!

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