International performer and opera singer Barbi McCulloch led vocal master classes for Tappan Zee High School Chorale members today, as they prepare for the New York State School Music Association Solo Festival next weekend. Ms. McCulloch offered practical psychological and technical tips to the performers. “As a singer who started later, I have always championed the natural voices that just needed a little technique to be stellar. Singing is 90 percent psychological and 10 percent technical, and students need to think deeply about why they sing,” noted Ms. McCulloch. “If students don’t have an answer, they need to find one if they intend to pursue a career in this, because they will need a reason to sustain them through the rejections and lean times. They’ve been given the gift of song and need to believe in themselves. When you have something to sing for, it makes you much more confident.”
Ms. McCulloch began her training at age 18 and was impressed by TZHS’ program. “You’ve all had so much opportunity to work toward your potential already,” she told students. “You are so lucky to have this fantastic program in your school.”
The master classes were made available thanks to Choral Director Dr. Russell Wagoner, who attended Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music with Ms. McCulloch while they were working on graduate degrees in choral conducting and vocal performance, respectively. Students were invited to perform their solo pieces for Ms. McCulloch, who offered practical, personalized feedback to improve their performance.
Freshman Kylie S. was the first to sing this morning and listened carefully to Ms. McCulloch’s advice, both for herself and for her classmates. “It’s really helpful to work with someone so advanced in their career, especially someone who knows my teacher and his approach,” she said. “Her tips about breath control were great and I appreciated what she told Fatima about the thinking and emotion behind the singing.”
Best of luck to all at NYSSMA next week!