The Vocal Performance department is ambitious on your behalf and seeks to find ways for you to discover and fulfil your potential as a singer and independent, distinctive artist. The department numbers around 100 first study singers on BMus and MMus courses, with a further 20 singers taking the advanced MMus Opera route. Our team of tutors and coaches aim to help you find and release your own true unique voice, establishing a technique which can serve you reliably, with a sense of freedom.
The department is led by Scott Johnson, Wilma MacDougall, and Elizabeth McCormack. Working closely with the Head of Opera, Philip White, it has an excellent and committed team of tutors, many of whom have worked and continue to work at the highest international performing levels and who are able to offer a range of specialisms.
Underlying the performing, teaching and coaching activities within vocal performance is a simple idea: that each singer must find the mode of learning and developing which really works for them. This means that though much of the department activity will be comparable to what happens in other conservatoires throughout the world, here in Glasgow our approach is student-centred and we aim to respond to the differing learning styles and needs of individual singers. In practice, this means that we are a holistic and highly inclusive department. So, if you learn best by example and demonstration (a very common way of teaching singing), that will be available to you from our team of internationally experienced singer-tutors.
If you really want to understand more of the detail of how the classical voice functions and what constitutes healthy, sophisticated singing via a good working knowledge of the physiology and acoustics of the voice, that is also available within the department. If you sing better and reach artistic and technical progress via imaginative and emotional concepts this is also a proven way of accessing professional levels of singing, which is much used in the teaching and classes here. And of course, the truth for many students is that they benefit from the mixture and depth which combining these approaches can achieve. In one session you might be refining the detail of a language and exploring the full emotional depth and connection with text. In the next, you could be working on your breathing technique to secure a better supported appoggio. Or you might be refining the precision and quality of resonance in your vowels using the latest analytical equipment showing precisely what your voice is doing. These elements are taught via the two 45-minute singing lessons given each week and the additional classes for repertoire and performance, with also a special class called ‘Basis of Vocal Technique’ where students work as a group on the ideas and skills which they are encountering in the one-to-one lessons. We are practical and we use what works!
In addition to this very full and rounded approach to developing your voice, we believe that quick and valuable learning takes place via a multiplicity of performance opportunities. Each year, therefore, we devise a programme of concerts, operas, recitals, competitions and masterclasses that enable students to participate at appropriate levels. There are very few formal restrictions to these opportunities for example even undergraduates may take part in full operatic productions where this is desirable. Our curriculum structure includes credits for Performance Folio activities, in which a student can offer a very wide range of performing. This might take the form of solo performance, or taking part in a chorus or ensemble working at a professional level, or it might be an adventurous new work which combines different arts disciplines.