top of page
  • Writer's pictureDominique Labelle

Discipline, Knowledge, Passion, Courage and Generosity

When one understands the importance of singers in the world, and how they can transform it, one takes their growth and formation very seriously. There is no greater joy than to witness a young singer becoming efficient at singing and communicating their love of words, and of the human experience through music to their peers, and eventually to greater audiences. I feel privileged to teach students enrolled at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University. They are extremely talented and motivated.

Each voice is unique. Because this amazing instrument not only belongs to the musician, but also IS the musician, I prefer using a nurturing approach to teaching voice. I find myself amazed every day, as I spend many hours listening to voices asking me how to grow, to come out, and live. During private lessons, I work on specific technical aspects of singing, on building a vocal discipline and exploring knowledge: understanding the cycle of breath, support, vowel purity, resonance efficiency, evenness in vocal registers, good posture while keeping the instrument relaxed and flexible, good singing habits, impeccable musicianship, diction, style, studying and learning a varied repertoire.

In the weekly Studio Class, which I use as a lab, I let students present their musical selection. While listening to them attentively, I pay attention to one issue that gets in the way of honesty, which needs to be addressed. I stay away from embarrassing topics like jaw tension, posture, or pitch, and focus on clarity of thought, communication, emotional intent, and freedom. I bring my students out of their comfort zone and can ask them to sing laying on the floor, pulling a heavy rubber band to engage the whole body, looking directly at a colleague, walking back and forth under my guidance to let go of control, dancing, putting their heads inside the piano to help feel their voice as integral part of the music... I always ask for feedback from the student who went through the exercise as well as the whole class to reinforce the process. These two perspectives (the pedagogical aspect of the private lesson, and the experimental focus in Studio Class) are complementary to one another.

Since I am a new teacher, I cannot say that my approach to teaching has improved much, but I am learning to slow down, and to use issues that are brought to my immediate attention by the student, rather than focusing on ideas that have more to do with my own expectations. I am also discovering various ways to communicate knowledge to my students. I appreciate the many discussions shared with colleagues at school and around the world. I find them extremely helpful in guiding together our wonderful and amazing students.

There is so still so much to learn. I would like to deepen my understanding of how the body works as an instrument. Many of my students, for example, having had dental work, and are struggling with jaw alignment. Expanding knowledge of the breath, as I observe how much young singers’ emotions and living affect their breath, and their singing is also a priority. I intend to take classes in kinesiology and travel to Italy, India, and California to work and study breath. These are my projects for my first sabbatical. I also believe that remaining active as a singer is beneficial to teaching.

Studio 2017/2018 - Ecole de musique Schulich

304 views0 comments
bottom of page