A Master Class is a class given by an expert, an artist who already proved to be a successful artist in their own right.
It’s a pretty broad definition because every Master Class is a unique event. The overall tone and content of a Master Class is shaped by the personality of the expert giving it. To spend time with these Masters and observe how they immerse themselves in the details of song repertoire, engage with their students, and create an experience that the audience could share in as well, is an opportunity any potential artist should experience and use to master their craft.
A Master Class is a concentrated public coaching for the singers who participate. Because each turn is much shorter than an actual lesson or coaching and because the Master must explain everything to an audience that may know little about singing, they’ll focus on only one or two very specific aspects of each performance. That way, everyone learns: the singer receives a valuable nugget of information that they can later apply to the rest of their repertoire, and the audience experiences how the Master’s advice improved their performance. You’ll definitely benefit from participating in Master Classes if you’re the kind of person who performs well under pressure. There’s incredible leverage and support created by the situation. Not only are you face to face with a prominent expert, but there’s a whole audience rooting for you to succeed. So if you can handle it, a Master Class creates conditions where breakthroughs are likely to happen, and when they do, it’s exciting for everyone – the singer, the audience, and of course the teacher.
Even when successful teachers haven’t come across a particular piece before, they are able to take what they know about the song, style, etc. and apply what they do know in such a way that the lesson is just as helpful as if they did know the piece. Master Class teachers don’t stop to work on every single imperfection – just the areas that would lead to the most meaningful or impactful improvement. Sometimes it’s easy for us to focus so much on how much more we must do, that it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come. Sometimes it’s nice to get some perspective and a pat on the back from someone whose ears and judgment can be trusted.
These classes proceed at an intense, rapid pace. Much of the teachers’ feedback seemed to be geared towards honing the students’ ears. Helping them appreciate more of the subtle nuances and details that the teachers hear, so that they can continue to raise their standards and eventually, the level of their singing. After all, if they can’t hear it, they can’t work on it in the week between lessons.
Technical feedback is given in terms of creating an interpretive effect, always geared towards the ultimate end goal of musical expression. As a wise person once said, “The only reason for Mastering technique is to make sure the body does not prevent the soul from expressing itself.”
The teachers sing parts of the students’ repertoire to demonstrate important points; the teachers’ modelling is probably quite inspiring to listen to whenever they demonstrated what they were asking. The bigger idea is that their demonstration effectively and clearly illustrates the musical essence of what they want that student to aim for.
The proof of the value of the education you receive lies in what you do with it. The first and most important step in becoming a professional musician is to seek out all valuable resources which can help you grow into the best artist you can be. Attend as many Master Classes as possible. Don’t get stuck with one vocal coach. Get us much assistance to continue personal growth. You’re never too old to learn, take what you have been taught and redefine those values in your own terms, and always stay true to yourself and remain the artist you wish to be.