How To Achieve A Free Voice

Master Teacher of Voice

Teacher of Singing

My private studio is in Raleigh, North Carolina.  I can be easily reached from all over the Triangle.  I teach private lessons in my home studio.

What is Bel Canto?

I teach Bel Canto. Bel canto translates as “beautiful song.” Actually, it is several things.

About Katherine

A proponent of a functional approach to singing, based on an understanding of the nature and physiology of the vocal mechanism. Her teaching brings about a transformative experience leading to healthy, free, and beautiful singing.

Why do I teach singing?

I teach singing because I consider singing to be a tremendously BIG DEAL. There is an ancient tradition that sound is spirit in action. If so, then making sound is an act of expressing the spirit in us. I believe this. Our voices express our very nature and creative power.

Wait! Breathe! Sing!

A short video documentary, detailing Katherine’s teaching style, vocal style, and singing technique along with 10 tracks from "Sweet Harmony" by Katherine Kaufman Posner.

l

Connect with me below

Whether you’d like to schedule vocal lessons or follow-up with a question, I’d love to hear from you! Please use the form below to write me a message.

How do we achieve a free voice?

Most people have some “inadequacy” (for lack of a better term) in the way they sing. You can’t reach the notes you want, high or low, or you sing a while and start to get tired, or the choir director complains you sing flat or sharp. Even if none of these things is true, perhaps you just don’t like how you sound. It isn’t pretty or exciting. Are you just stuck with what you have? Can you improve? The answers are: no, you are not stuck, and yes, you can improve your singing. Although not everyone can be a Pavarotti, there are very few individuals who cannot learn to make a pleasing sound and enjoy making music. How do you begin to make the change in your voice that you want? I call the process of improving the voice “functional singing”. Functional singing involves learning how the voice works and using this knowledge to create an approach to correcting vocal faults. I believe that it is vitally important to have a basic understanding of the vocal mechanism. This way we can plan measures to improve the way we are currently using the voice. Please note there are no capital letters in functional singing. This is not a METHOD, in the sense of a repeatable series of exercises for use by all singers. No series of exercises will work for every person. Each student singer must have an individualized approach, depending on what his or her problems with singing are. The main thing to keep our focus on is that we are looking for correct function. What does this mean?

The Basic Idea To focus our attention on correct function is to apply a simple principle, that what works well meets our needs. We know this is true of mechanical things, cars and toasters and ATM machines. It is also true, in my view, of the voice. If it works right, it meets our needs, which is to say, if it works right, it sounds good! In other words, we can arrive at the free voice by concerning ourselves and focusing our attention on the process of singing, or making the voice work correctly. Sing beautifully! This is about the most useless directive you can get, as a singer. Yet this about sums up the way some teachers approach students. It’s not what they actually say. What they say is:

  • “You need to focus the sound.” (Usually ordered with information as to where to focus it, in the front of the face, over the top of the head, behind your teeth, etc.)
  • “Sing in tune.”
  • “Raise that pitch.”
  • “Your vowel isn’t pure.”
  • “Your vowel is muddy.”
  •  “Make that vowel clearer.”
  • “Relax your tongue.”
  • “Support the tone.”
  • “Take a low breath and push down while you sing.”
  • “Breath low and tighten your buttocks.”
  • “Release the air more slowly, like letting air out of a balloon.”
  • “I can’t understand the words. You must pronounce more clearly.”

If the singer could obey these commands, if they could respond effectively to these criticisms, they undoubtedly would! You remember the old story of the tortoise and the hare. I think of that kind of teaching, which gratefully is happening less than it used to, as the “hare approach”. It is an attempt to dash to the finish line without consideration for the race itself. I, personally, prefer to be the tortoise. As the moral to that story goes, “Slow and steady wins the race.” To the singer, this means a step-by-step approach.

Questions to which we should seek answers:

  • How does the vocal mechanism work in ideal conditions?
  • What tools do I have to bring about these ideal conditions in my voice?
  • How do I use these tools to change the way I use my voice?
  • How do I eliminate bad habits and tensions that make singing uncomfortable?

This kind of careful approach to learning to sing, under guidance of a teacher who understands vocal function should produce an improvement in virtually every student of singing. When you place your attention on making the voice work well, the result will be good singing! The result will also be reliability, to be able to sing well (barring illness) whenever we want.

My Inspiration

Many talented singers have inspired me over the years, probably too many to mention. There are those, however, that deserve special mention and are listed here:

Sopranos
  • Luisa Tetrazzini
  • Mary Garden
  • Amelita Galli-Curci
  • Alma Gluck
  • Frida Leider
  • Kirsten Flagstad
  • Rosa Ponselle
  • Hellen Traubel
  • Zinka Milanov
  • Dorothy Kirsten
  • Eleanor Steber
  • Birgit Nilsson
  • Eileen Farrell
  • Renata Tebaldi
  • Leonie Rysanek
  • Regine Crespin
  • Montserrat Caballe
  • Martina Arroyo
  • Teresa Stratas
Mezzo-sopranos
  • Gladys Swarthout
  • Jennie Tourel
  • Ebe Stigniani
  • Regina Resnik
  • Christa Ludwig
  • Rosalind Elias
  • Teresa Berganza
Contraltos
  • Ernestine Schumann-Heink
  • Louise Homer
  • Maureen Forrester
Tenors
  • Enrico Caruso
  • Leo Slezak
  • John McCormack
  • Tito Schipa
  • Beniamino Gigli
  • Lauritz Melchior
  • Jan Peerce
  • Josef Schmidt
  • Jussi Bjoerling
  • Nicolai Gedda
  • Jon Vickers
  • Fritz Wunderlich
  • Luciano Pavarotti
  • Placido Domingo
Baritones
  • Tita Ruffo
  • Lawrence Tibbett
  • Leonard Warren
  • Herman Prey
Basses
  • Feodor Chaliapin
  • Ezio Pinza
  • George London
  • Cesare Siepi
  • Giorgio Tozzi
  • Norman Treigle
  • Walter Berry
  • Thomas Quasthoff

Reviews for Katherine’s Vocal Performance

“Katherine Kaufman captivated…She gave notice of a major talent.”
– Los Angeles Times

“The hit of the evening was Katherine Kaufman. Her voiced matched… her ability to communicate with the audience.”
– OPERA, London

“…the most brilliant was Katherine Kaufman…strong-voiced, well-controlled and superbly comic…”
– Oakland Tribune

“beauty and clarity of voice…a flair for both comedy and drama.”
– Duluth News-Tribune

“Miss Kaufman sang the difficult role with great fire and beauty.”
Jacksonville Tribune

“…extremely gifted as a singer, musician and actress.”
– Boris Goldovsky, Goldovsky Opera Theatre

“….attractive musicianship and a gift for the stage.”
– Carlton Gauld, Opera Comique (Paris)

 

Reviews

Katherine Kaufman captivated…She gave notice of a major talent.

Los Angeles Times

“The hit of the evening was Katherine Kaufman. Her voiced matched… her ability to communicate with the audience.”

OPERA, London

“…the most brilliant was Katherine Kaufman…strong-voiced, well-controlled and superbly comic…”

Oakland Tribune

A Special Thank You:

I am a disciple of the world-renowned Cornelius Reid, rediscoverer of the principles of the bel canto tradition. I was also was fortunate to study under the great Elisabeth Parham who was a professor of voice at Oklahoma University, and who guided me to a national award in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions. I will always be grateful to these two teachers who changed my life and made it possible for me not only to be successful as a singer, but also to teach in a way that enables the human voice to be as nature intended, to function correctly and therefore to be beautiful and free.

Contact me today!
You CAN improve your singing!