How many of you have ever attended a masterclass as an audience member outside of your degree requirements? There's something really magical that happens when you hear another singer struggle with a section of a piece, take a note from a master singer/teacher, internalize the suggested change and succeed in transforming his/her sound. It is a very different experience from actually performing in the masterclass itself, but I'd venture to say it can be equally beneficial as a learning tool. The process of writing down in your own words what transpired on stage is easier as an audience member than retracing the aria after the class as the performer, and it can be a real growth opportunity to try to employ any suggested enhancements to your own practice sessions and auditions.
Many years ago, I attended a week long masterclass in Vienna led by Julia Hamari; I decided to participate as an observer only and had the pleasure of watching many young singers blossom into their richer, more authentic voices over the course of the week, including a very young Sylvia Schwartz, now a grand-dame of the German opera world. I learned a great deal during that week of observation, not least of all how useful it can be to apply different ideas to solve a piece of the technique puzzle.
If you have the time to attend and are in the New York area next week, Carnegie Hall's The Song Continues...masterclass series starts Monday January 16; Marilyn Horne will lead on Monday, Renee Fleming on Tuesday and Graham Johnson on Wednesday.
If you do choose to attend, tell us about it! We'd love to share your report in a future post.