Friday, September 12, 2014

Questions Answered by Peter Maleitzke; discussing his carreer, his teaching and music.

Sing without limitation                                                                                 September 12, 2014

News and Ideas from the 

First of a new series-
Questions Answered

Q. How did you decide to get in your line of work?
A. I have been a musician virtually all of my life: a soprano in the church choir at the age of five and later school choirs, playing my grandmother’s piano as soon as I could get up on the bench myself and then formal lessons starting when I was seven, accompanying singing lessons and voice recitals to pay my way through college; music is what I know, it is what I do. Along the way I discovered I was also a good teacher. I enjoy the interaction with my students and watching them grow and manifesting their dreams. Any questions? 
Q. If you were just beginning your training to become a singer, what would you like to know or understand? Any inside secrets to share?
A. In Vocal Wisdom, Giovanni Lamperti says that you can write on your hand, everything you need to know about singing. If this is true, why does singing seem so complex, great singing almost unattainable, especially when taught by someone who sings quite well? The technique of singing is not complicated. Everyone can learn to do it well. Learning to sing requires muscular and intellectual development on a daily basis. It also requires the guidance of someone who understands how to build a great voice, the importance of nurture and motivation, strong musicianship skills and the ear to correctly access what is happening physically. To be a great artist, is a lifetime journey, and requires the support of family and friends, inspiration from other artists and nature itself, as well as many mentors along the way.
If you have any questions for Peter, email them to

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Learning to Sing From Careful Observation

     One of the most exciting advances in the education of young singers, actors and musicians is the advent and availability of YouTube. Available for study are an unlimited number of definitive performances both audio and video previously unavailable or at best, rarely available and extremely difficult to find. It is critical, however, to be careful to watch and listen to only the best performances of the repertoire or genre you are studying.  It is as easy to absorb negative characteristics of a performance as it is to aspire to the admirable qualities of the artists we revere. Knowing which videos to watch and which to avoid is complicated and subjective. (I will share more ideas about this in a future blog.) A wonderful example of videos to watch and learn from on YouTube are selections from the film Jessye Norman: A Portrait (Andre Heller, 2005)
      Of course the artist has a reputation for delivering consummate performances.  But here the filmmaker gives us an up-close view of Ms. Norman rarely afforded on screen and never live.  We literally see inside the throat of the singer, who in this case is perhaps the greatest vocal instrument ever.  I have had the great fortune to hear Jessye Norman live many times, back in Michigan first at Interlochen National Music Camp and then in the University of Michigan's Hill Auditorium, in New York (at the Met and other venues), and more recently in San Francisco with the San Francisco Symphony and at the Hollywood Bowl performing Laura Karpman's Ask Your Mama. None of these extraordinary performances allowed me to see how Ms. Norman sings and assess the concepts and technique that I teach with the production of this exemplary artist. But the film and the excerpts available on YouTube provide great insight into how such a great singer actually sings.  

      I would not presume to speak for Ms. Norman, nor do I have specific knowledge of her thoughts on vocal production.  However, I recommend watching this video to see clear examples of pharyngeal vowel production, releasing the jaw, raising the soft palate, breathing as a release of the tone and a preparation for the following phrase (inspiration), accessing resonators in the mask, communicating the lyric and truthful emotional intensity.

     I think any student of singing will benefit from careful observation of Ms. Norman, drinking in and allowing inspiration from her passion, commitment and technical production.


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