July 5–18, 2021
Boston Conservatory at Berklee Vocal/Choral Intensive is a two-week summer program for high school-aged singers who are focused on musical theater or classical music. Led by Professor Bill Cutter and Chair of Voice Patty Thom, and taught by Conservatory faculty who have years of experience training young singing artists, this is a chance for young performers to explore their abilities as solo performers and to begin to discover the many professional and educational options available to them as they move forward in their artistic lives.
Vocal/Choral Intensive’s curriculum is focused on strengthening students’ foundational and performance skills, through performance classes, Alexander Technique training, repertoire classes, Breathing Bootcamp, theory and sight-singing classes, and a Shakespeare-centered acting project. Each student will receive coachings and voice lessons and experience master classes with both Boston Conservatory faculty and guest teachers. We will dive into the world of professional choral singing—and what’s required to get the job—with Boston Conservatory alumni who are singing with Chanticleer and other professional choruses as well as those working in professional theater.
At the conclusion of the program, students can expect to be more complete artists with stronger musicianship skills and more polished performance techniques. They will have a clearer idea of their artistic and educational options going forward, and a better sense of the questions to ask. In addition, they will meet talented peers 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
|Application Fee:||$50 (non-refundable)|
|Housing and Meals:*||$1,395|
|Move-In:||Monday, July 5, 2021 (time TBD)|
|Move-Out:||Sunday, July 18, 2021 by 7:00 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.
Sight-Singing and Ear Training
Daily work on scales, intervals, and other musical patterns as well as rhythmic exercises to strengthen the music-reading ability of each student. Individual sight-reading levels will be assessed in advance of arrival to ensure that each student is assigned to an appropriate sight-singing and ear-training class level.
Music Theory is offered in streamed classes according to level. It covers an introduction to basic materials of music, including treble and bass clef, key signatures and scales (major and minor), and intervals, as well as using those elements to construct simple melodies as part of first and second species counterpoint exercises. This course paves the way for young singers toward greater artistic independence.
Choral Master Classes
What does it take to make a life as a professional chorister—either in an established chorus or in the theater? Guests from well-known choral groups such as the San Francisco-based Chanticleer and alumni who are touring and working on Broadway will join us for in-depth discussions about the audition process, what it takes to succeed, and the life and work of singers who chose this musical path.
Vocal Performance Class
All aspects of solo vocal performance are addressed in these classes. The course focuses 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. Students are expected to bring music that they have already prepared, and everyone will be assigned and will learn new repertoire during the program.
Alexander Technique Seminars
Singers are guided in these classes to a deeper awareness and understanding of how the body functions, what happens when it doesn’t function well, and how to inhibit those habits that lead to tension. Learning how to live and sing in your body is a challenge at all times, but in the virtual world this is even more challenging. All of these topics and more will be addressed in this body/mind exploration.
Diction and IPA
Understanding of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) 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.
Awareness of the breath and how it functions is essential to the act of singing. 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.
In these classes, students will be introduced to repertoire for the young classical or musical theater singer and discover unusual and effective pieces that suit each performer. Singers will gain a better understanding of the technical challenges for pieces in each style, as well as learn more about “what not to sing” and why. Singers will leave this class with a strong sense of what to choose to sing that will both give them an appropriate technical challenge but also show off what is unique and special about them as a singer and performer.
Voice Lessons and Vocal Coachings
Each Vocal/Choral Intensive student will be assigned a 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 four private coachings where musical skills will be reinforced, and use of text and phrasing as well as stylistic issues will be addressed.
Stageworks: The Shakespeare Project
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 is moving slowly. The use of exercises, improvisation, and storytelling helps young singers build confidence in their ability to make decisions about character, objective, obstacle, and strategy. Through this work, performers will jointly build a newly created musical/theatrical scene, bringing Shakespeare to life through group and solo work, dancing, and song.
Now is the time to start talking about the next step: how to approach the application process to colleges and/or conservatories. 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 20 years of experience auditioning young singers for a collegiate-level singing program, she brings both sides of the audition experience to the conversation. This session will address all the questions you have about how and where to take those next steps: How do I choose a list of appropriate schools for my skills, interests, and talent level? What kind of training and performance opportunities will I find at a liberal arts school? What do I need to know about scholarship and financial aid? The process can be a confusing one; this session will help you begin to create a framework for college applications and figure out how to get where you want to go.
How to Apply
- Two video recordings of contrasting songs with piano accompaniment (there are no live auditions).
- A repertoire list of musical pieces you have worked on in the last two years
Video Recording Submission Guidelines
- Your submissions should be 3–5 minutes in length.
- Sound quality is important and the featured musician must be clearly audible (video quality is not a factor).
- Videos can be home, live, or studio recordings.
- Recordings of the performances should be recent (within the last year).
- Ensure your video submissions are easily accessible and not set to private.
June 1, 2021
"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 Vocal/Choral Intensive Participant)