The Art Of Functional Singing

Where Do We Go From Here?

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.

I’m a singing teacher. As in every profession, I set my goals. But goals in singing are hard to come up with. There was an old song, I think from the 1940s, that said, “Where are we going? What’ll we do there? What’ll be the big surprise?” So as not to leave you in suspense, the song answered, “A lovely senorita with dark and flashing eyes!”

My answer is different as regards the point of studying singing. Where are we going? I have no idea. I know what free and natural singing sounds like and I think I have a clear idea of how to train people to do this. My immediate goal is to put my students on the path to “where we’re going.” But what the end result will be is unknown, as unknown to me as it is to the singer. I have a little better idea than they do because I understand the process of singing and what following the process efficiently is likely to produce. And I sit across from them and can hear if we are getting closer. But I would never presume to cement an idea at ANY point in my work with a singer what label should be attached to that voice or what it will end up being.

I wish all teachers were like that, regardless of the details of their teaching methods. Unfortunately, many teachers have a preconceived idea of what sort of tone voices should produce and direct all their students toward that idea. I had a student in California who came to her interview and told me she was a mezzo-soprano. When I vocalized her I told her that her idea was false, that she was “some kind” of soprano, probably lyric. She was stunned. As the weeks passed and her voice began to correct itself, it became as obvious to her as it was to me that I was correct. At the end of one lesson she said to me, “All the women in my undergraduate teacher’s studio were mezzos. That should have been my first clue.” Indeed it should. The teacher liked a dark sound. I kind of do, too, as do most of us listeners to beautiful singing, but not all voices have it. In his case, he taught all the women to make the same sound, the sound he liked. Many teachers do this. Frankly, it’s easier to tell a student to make a certain sound than it is to explore his or her voice and see what develops from that exploration.

Teachers complain and have done so for a very long time that teaching singing is in a very bad state. I think it is. And I think the reason is that singing teachers have substituted effect for cause. They are teaching for the finished sound. Students cannot make the finished sound, by and large, because they are unable to manage the voice correctly. So, in order to please the teacher, they use all sorts of interfering tensions to get what the teacher is asking for according to the verbal description and, on occasion, the teacher’s modeling of the sound. The teacher may have a clear idea of what is a good sound and often does. But in asking the singer to produce that sound, he is substituting effect for cause. It is like asking the “98 pound weakling” from the old body building ads to clean and jerk 400 pounds. Not a good idea. Effective teaching is based on a step by step process which gradually removes whatever is standing in the way of freedom. The great writer, Antoine Saint Exupery, said “Great art is obtained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to take away.” So the job of the teacher is to take away and that requires an individualized process.  One size can never fit all.

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

About Me

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. Katherine has a reputation as a gifted, caring and down-to-earth instructor who is highly successful in leading singers to increased vocal health and high level performing ability.

In 1965, Katherine became a student of the world-renowned Cornelius L. Reid, author of five highly respected books on singing, including The Free Voice and Bel Canto: Principles and Practices.  She became deeply committed to understanding and also replicating the teaching of the Italian masters of the bel canto tradition.

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!