QUESTIONS FOR FRANCESCA
Q. What made you want to become a teacher full time?
A. My journey to teaching really started from a question I was asked by my grandfather when I was a very little girl - "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I said that I wanted to be a "nurse or a fireman, because I want to help people." My love for opera, and my surprise at discovering I was gifted with a voice that could sing this music, pulled me into performing first. But my own vocal journey was complicated. I went through five different voice teachers while in conservatory. No one quite knew what to do with me. It wasn't until I met my first teaching mentor who knew how to address the whole instrument that my voice started really blooming, and I started falling in love with singing all over again. The confidence and empowerment of having a rock solid technique, the feeling that my voice would do anything I asked it to, is what allowed me to nail my auditions and get to sing the roles I had dreamed of performing. When my colleagues started asking for private lessons after singing together in rehearsal and onstage, it seemed like a natural step forward. Hearing how quickly I got results, and seeing the relief, joy, and excitement on a singer's face by the end of their lesson, made starting my own private studio a no-brainer. I was now finally getting to help people through the thing I loved doing the most, and giving them their personal power back. Being the catalyst for someone else's growth, to watch and hear singers bloom into their full potential and take ownership of their musical and artistic voice, helping them find their joy, is the most rewarding path I could hope for. I haven't looked back since. I do not take lightly what it means that other singers trust me enough to put my hands on their voice, because I am still a singer and I personally know what it feels like. So it is a joy and honor to do such work.
Q. How do you work with your singers in their lessons?
A. I work technically through addressing things (to name a few) like;
breath support and body alignment
coordination and development of registration
the balance of chiaroscuro (the natural balance of resonance and color) at every point in the voice
vowel placement and spacing
legato, and finding legato within coloratura
cleanliness of diction without losing vowel formation
unlocking any tension issues found in the body at every point of the instrument (i.e. from neck and tongue tension to muscular locks found lower down such as in the transverse abdominals, the intercostals, or surrounding the sternum)
For my singers that are singing in contemporary styles, we use the basis of these same techniques, but apply them only as appropriate, working with proper voice registration balance, as well as how close we are to your natural speaking voice
Many of my singers will tell me within a few lessons that singing feels "more intense, but in a good way/easier" - because we are taking unhealthy tension out of the instrument and aligning the voice so that it can work like clockwork, and getting the right parts of the instrument to do their natural job. A lot of teaching has to do with helping singers get out of their own way! The vocal lineage of my mentors comes from the classic bel canto practices of Garcia and Lamperti, as well as the influence of such teachers as Gunter Bratt (teacher of Kirsten Flagstad), Joseph Hislop (whose students included Birgit Nilsson and Jussi Bjorling) and Allan Lindquest. In each lesson I am aiming to release the most beautiful, present, authentic sound possible by building a foundation that is healthy, consistent, and dependable, and adapting technical concepts to the unique needs and challenges of each singer. I often address the mind-body connection between emotional and technical blocks for the singer. Most importantly, I am committed to creating a positive, nurturing, rigorous learning environment, respecting the unique needs and challenges of each and every one of my students. This means that the exercises and methodology we use in your lessons are uniquely meant for you, to bring out what is the most special and beautiful about YOU - not trying to fit your voice into a "cookie cutter" technique that is stamped the same way from voice to voice.
Q. How fast can I expect results?
A. The answer is as individual as the client. Depending on your goals, your vocal history, where you are in your vocal development, and the presence of any technical issues, the result can vary. This is why I ask my new clients to commit to at least three months of lessons before deciding whether or not they need to find a better fit. I have heard from almost all of my clients that singing already felt different, or that they felt a shift that they liked, from the first lesson. We have to remember that the concepts of technique are clear, but building consistency in muscle coordination takes time. Especially for working singers that need to absorb information quickly, we get straight to what they need and work methodically so that they have the chance to hold onto new concepts under pressure. It is typical to hear from my clients that within about two to three months of regular lessons, they are getting strong positive feedback from colleagues in rehearsal and performance that there is a marked improvement noted in their singing. I give you the tools you need and we work as a team to get you to your goals.
Q. I really want to take lessons with you but I am worried I am too old/not professional enough/not talented enough - would you still work with a singer like me?
A. There is no such thing as "too late" or "not enough". I have clients in their 60's and 70's whose voices have transformed and who have sung in recital for the first time after retirement. I work with singers who walked away from pursuing artistic dreams for a different career, and miss singing terribly. I work with singers who have never taken a voice lesson before they met me, and wanted to just try because they love music so much. No matter where you are on your vocal journey, if you feel passionate enough about singing to be willing to invest your time and money into regular lessons, you deserve to have your INNER voice respected and taken seriously. My motto is "Every Voice Counts". You are enough just as you are. Some of my proudest moments have come from watching an amateur client make huge personal strides and find joy where they never thought they would be "allowed" to. In my studio, every human being is honored and gets the same dedication, focus and quality experience as my clients singing in opera houses in the US and in Europe or on Broadway.
Q. What can I expect in a trial lesson?
A. We will talk through your goals, your vocal history, any issues or concerns you need addressed, and then work extensively through vocal exercises, as well as one or two of your favorite arias, art songs, or the number you use the most from your song book. I will give you a full diagnostic of what I am hearing and we will work through the beginnings of some vocalizes you might not have used before, using a few basic ideas to start shifting you towards the vocal gains you are looking for. You will walk out of the studio having a clear idea of how I would work with you. We will create a long term map that will get you what you want out of your singing.
Q. Can I learn a little bit more about your performing? Can I hear what your singing sounds like?
A. Absolutely, you can visit my artist webpage at www.francescamondanaro.me. There you will find videos, audio clips, and much more about my performing background.