A vocal masterclass is similar to a voice lesson, with the added element of performance. Singers perform a well-rehearsed piece in front of an audience and a master teacher.
The master teacher then offers suggestions to improve their performance and/or technique in a safe, supportive learning environment.
In a singing masterclass, the master teacher usually works with each student for 15-20 minutes.
How to prepare for a masterclass
1. Know your repertoire
You should be presenting a polished performance when in a masterclass. If you bring your best then you can be sure that everything your teacher suggests will be new information.
2. Be prepared to stop and start
The nature of a vocal masterclass for singers means that you may be asked to stop and start several times. Be prepared for this so it doesn’t throw you off.
3. Don’t be afraid to try new things
The ability to change your approach on the spot is difficult – particularly in front of an audience. Be willing to take risks and attempt new suggestions whole-heartedly to get the most out of the session.
4. Have worked on your technique
While you are not expected to be perfect, a teacher will expect that you are able to change certain elements of technique on request. Make sure you have worked on your technique enough that you are able to oblige.
5. Know the storyline
In order to perform successfully you will need to know the storyline behind the song. A master teacher may ask you questions about your character and the storyline – ensure you’ve thought about this before you’re put on the spot.
6. Warm up before class
Time is of the essence in a vocal masterclass. Make sure you are warmed up and ready to sing as soon as the class starts.
What you can get out of it
1. Performance experience
I have numerous students who say “but when I’m on stage…”. A masterclass means the a teacher will be able to observe you in a performance scenario when offering advice.
2. Some quick wins
A masterclass is designed to provide singers with some quick tips to help polish their performance. You’re going to get pieces of information you can use immediately in your singing.
3. Structure for future practice
Some suggestions in the masterclass will need to be worked on over a period of time. A masterclass is a great way to get some insight into where you should be focussing your future energy.
It’s often difficult to hear and see changes in our own voices. A masterclass gives you the opportunity to see the changes in others – make sure you take notes!