July 6–18, 2020
"I got more out of these two weeks than anything I've ever done. You have all reminded me why l love music, and how vital music making is to a meaningful existence. You have opened me up in more ways than I thought possible."—Adrianna K. (Former VCI Participant)
Vocal/Choral Intensive (VCI) is a two-week summer program for high school-aged singers who are focused on musical theater or classical music. Led by faculty with years of experience training young artists, this is a chance for young performers to explore their abilities and potential as soloists, singing actors, and ensemble singers.
VCI is designed to strengthen singers' performance skills and build confidence in performance choices. Students will participate in performance skills classes, theory, sight-singing, diction, yoga, acting, and ensemble singing. There will also be voice lessons and coachings, special master classes with Conservatory faculty and concerts by the teaching staff, as well as trips to Boston theatrical performances. Every student in VCI performs in two solo recitals and the program ends with an unforgettable gala ensemble performance.
At the conclusion of the program, students can expect to be more complete artists with stronger musicianship skills and more polished performance techniques. In addition, they will make friends for life from around the world who share their passion for singing and music, and who will help each other become better performers and musicians.
Who Should Apply
High school students, ages 15 to 18, who are serious about singing.
Faculty and Guest Instructors
Tuition, Fees, Housing, and Meals
|Application Fee:||$90 (non-refundable)|
|Housing and Meals:*||$1,395|
|Move-In:||Monday, July 6, 2020 (time TBD)|
|Move-Out:||Saturday, July 18, 2020, at 12:00 p.m.|
Students living on campus enjoy housing in the Conservatory’s historical brownstones and the many offerings of the Berklee cafeteria, just down the street. Learn more about housing.
*Students living on campus are required to have a meal plan. Students may request a waiver of housing and meals with proof of alternate options. All waivers are at the discretion of the Summer Programs Office.
How to Apply
- A audio or video recording of two contrasting songs with piano accompaniment (there are no live auditions); individual recordings can be as large as 5GB
- A repertoire list of musical pieces you have worked on in the last two years
- One headshot
Sight Singing and Ear Training
Daily drill work on scales, intervals, and other musical patterns as well as daily rhythmic exercises to strengthen the music reading ability of each student. Individual sight-reading levels will be assessed during the placement auditions on Sunday afternoon to ensure that each student is assigned to an appropriate sight-singing and ear-training class level.
Daily work on a wide variety of choral repertoire. Includes music of the baroque, classical, and romantic eras, as well as the 20th century. Each rehearsal will begin with both physical and vocal warm-ups, and will emphasize individual musicianship, critical listening skills, vocal technique, and style.
Vocal Performance Class
All aspects of solo vocal performance are addressed in these twice-weekly classes. Each student will have several opportunities to perform solo repertoire in class and to work on vocal technique, dramatic and musical interpretation, and the physicality and characterization of the piece. Both classical and musical theater repertoire will be studied in these classes, and students are expected to bring music that they have already prepared, and learn new repertoire during their two weeks in residence.
Members of the Boston Conservatory faculty—all of whom are experts at training young singers in classical as well as musical theater singing techniques—will give guest master classes throughout the two-week session. Performance participation is by audition, but all students will attend these special classes. In addition, a private recital by one of the Conservatory’s voice faculty will be presented for VCI students.
Diction & IPA
Understanding of the International Phonetic Alphabet is the basis for pronunciation in singing in all languages, as well as for successful dialect work in the theater. This course will serve as an introduction to the use of the IPA as well as to basic rules of diction in Italian.
Awareness of the breath and how it functions is essential to the act of singing. The Breathing Bootcamp is an intense workout for your breath mechanism. Through exercise and instruction, you will learn the anatomy and physiology of breathing and how to access the muscles responsible for breath—and thus for singing. Multiple ways of breathing will be experienced and discussed. Your life will be changed.
Voice Lessons & Vocal Coachings
Each student in the Intensive will be assigned a staff voice teacher and will receive weekly private voice lessons. Vocal technique, diction, and interpretation, as well as techniques for learning new repertoire, will be addressed in the lessons. In addition, students will be scheduled for three or four private coachings during the two weeks of the program.
Group exercises to begin to free the body and awaken breath and emotional connection are the primary focus of this class. This work involves breathing and relaxation exercises to develop deeper levels of physical awareness; exercises to develop connections between emotion, breath, and movement; exploration of high status and low status; physicalization of character; and character development. The work culminates in the performance of scenes using music from a broad range of the American musical theater and light opera repertoire.
The singing actor has many challenges: singing while acting naturally, singing while moving stylistically, singing while performing choreography, moving slowly while the voice is moving quickly, or moving quickly while the voice moves slowly. Through a series of exercises that challenge all of these combinations and more, students learn to integrate their stage and vocal techniques in a synergistic way. The use of improvisation, storytelling, and interview techniques help the young singer build the actor’s equation: who, where, what, when, and why, as well as to determine character objective, obstacle, and strategy. Sound and motion games are used to integrate and amalgamate the work of simultaneously singing and acting. Through this work the performers build a musical scene, transforming neutral texts and improvised music into a dramatic text and music of the operatic and theater genres. The work culminates in a finale performance of the fully developed piece.
All students will perform twice in public solo recitals. Please bring copies of repertoire that you have worked on with your teacher or coach at home. Your first recital at the Intensive will be a performance of music which you’ve learned prior to your arrival; the final solo performance will be of new repertoire learned and coached during the Intensive.
Now is the time to start talking about the next step: how to approach the application process to college and/or a conservatory. Even the best high school guidance counselors find the college-level music application process difficult to understand. In her previous position as director of music at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts, Patty Thom guided hundreds of high school-aged singers through the application process and into colleges and conservatory programs. Now, with 10 years of experience auditioning young singers for a collegiate-level singing program, she brings both sides of the audition experience to the conversation. During the summer VCI program, Thom will hold information and chat sessions for students who have questions about how to take those next steps: How do I choose a list of appropriate schools for my skills, interests, and talent level? What is the difference between Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory at Berklee music programs? What kind of music will I find at a liberal arts school? How can I find scholarship assistance? The process can be a confusing one. These sessions are intended to help you and your parents begin to create a framework for college application and to help you figure out how to get what you want.
June 1, 2020