Making music in Mendocino

A few stories from Redwoods…

Tom Hetrick (at piano) coaches Emily Hopkins, Anne Stillwell, and Kaitrin Cunningham

Tom Hetrick (at piano) coaches Emily Hopkins, Anne Stillwell, and Kaitrin Cunningham

Here are a few stories that stand out to me from Redwoods:

Part of the ROW program was an opera aria night at a lovely local hotel in Mendocino. Leading up to the concert we had nightly masterclasses led by Elizabeth and Adriana Hardy. They coached us on movement, acting, and expression, often rising from their seats to help us move more freely. At times while I was singing, one of them would be rooting my feet to the ground while the other would be moving my arms, moving my head, loosening my joints and releasing the tension in my neck and shoulders. What resulted for every singer was a bigger sound, a more expressive presentation, and a more grounded overall performance. It was an invaluable experience.

Over the course of ten days at ROW, I walked like a Tyrannosaurus Rex, learned a stylized Baroque dance routine, adjusted bad posture I’d been maintaining for years, and received valuable lessons on how to be a professional singer and what to expect from a career as a vocalist. Most importantly, I learned to trust my instincts, to enjoy the process, and how to perform at a higher and more expressive level.

The ROW program focuses on the whole singer. While voice teachers focus on technique, the finer aspects of posture, acting, and expression are often neglected. Elizabeth told us that she selected singers who already had good vocal technique so that she could focus on the other areas of performance. Our daily schedule included movement class, acting class, opera scenes rehearsals, and lectures on acting and on the career of a modern singer, concluding with a nightly master class. The amount of information I received is staggering, and the amount of growth I experienced in ten days is incomparable to any other musical experience I’ve ever had. Six months later, the lessons from ROW still resonate with me in my daily vocal activities, and I’m so grateful for everything I learned.

Kaitrin Cunningham, ROW 2013 Participant