The Art Of Singing

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.

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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.

 The answer to healthy singing is one thing and one thing only, that pesky thing called registration.**

As my students have all heard me say, if you can’t sing high it’s the registration. If you can’t sing low it’s the registration. Fast, slow, no endurance, not enough breath. Whatever it is that bothers you, it is the registration. The human voice has two registers, low (chest voice) and high (falsetto). Two and only two. There is no middle register. There is no ultra high register (called many things) There are only two because there are only two mechanisms within the throat to produce them, chest voice produced by the airway protection system (arytenoid group – if you want the Latin) which closes the cords, and falsetto produced by the swallowing system (thyroid group) which opens the cords and stretches them for pitch. Head voice is a combination of two muscular actions which, when invoked, draw the cords together “just so” through the opposition of their competing actions. If you want to know more, ask. I can talk all day (as my very, very patient students know) about the voice.

** The old singing masters of the 16th-18th centuries knew little about the anatomy and physiology of the body. They named the sounds they heard and attempted to develop by how they felt in the body or the characteristics of the sound produced.  So, when we sing that thing
called “Chest Voice,” we feel vibration in the chest, hence, Chest Voice.  Voila!  They determined the range of this register by working with voices and decided that the Chest Voice went from “Middle E” (sorta) downward, as low as the individual singer could take it.  They named the register we call “falsetto” because it had a weird, hooty sound that did not appear to resemble a full singing tone. It became “the little false thing,” to translate the Italian word into English. Its range seemed to be from High C – or perhaps a little above – down to a few notes below Middle C. They developed these two sounds and taught singers to use them together, with the strength of the Chest Voice and the softness of the Falsetto, creating a third sound they called Head Voice, and observed that Head Voice caused a vibration in the front of the face, hence its name.

–Katherine Kaufman Posner

 

“Voice is a product of function and, except to the degree to which all tone must conform to acoustic laws, has no mechanical function of its own. It is the end result of a coordinative process involving a complex of laryngeal and pharyngeal muscles whose pattern of response occurs as a direct reaction to a mental concept. To train the ‘voice,’ therefore, is to avoid making contact with basic functional activities. The character of a tone is formed at its point of inception, not afterwards, and the point of inception is that moment when the vibrating cords set the surrounding air spaces into motion. All technical devices and training methods employed whose aim is to improve the tone after the coordinative pattern has been set are useless.”

–Cornelius L. Reid

 

Our brains direct the vocal mechanism in response to our concept of our sound, our personal idea of what our voices sound like, an idea we got when we learned to talk. Ever listen to yourself talk on a recording? “Oh, dear.” is my reaction to my speaking voice. So, if we are going to improve our singing, our task is to change our concept. This is no mean feat. It is a process that takes time and focus, persuading our brains to direct a different sort of sound making than they have done before.

That’s where the singing teacher comes in. Our task is to help our students arrive at
a different concept. This means setting up a condition where students can hear themselves make sounds that are not what they are used to making. Then this new and, it is to be hoped, improved sound will become the norm for the brain which will continue to direct the vocal mechanism toward this new sound. That is the process of learning to sing. This is what voice teachers do, or at least should do. Sometimes they do not. Sometimes they try to simply take the existing sound and build on it. But if the sound is faulty to start with, then there is nothing to build on. The faulty sound has to go and be replaced by a better sound.

–Katherine Kaufman Posner

The starting point is listening.
We must conceive the sound, and its elements, pitch, vowel, and dynamic.
We must listen to these things with a “willingness to change.”
Then we take a breath and see what happens.
And, by so doing, we learn.

We sing, and then we analyze what we heard.
Little by little we discover a new sound.
As we hear difference, it comes into our experience.
Our listening becomes more acute.

Listen to the pitch.
Hear it in your head.
Conceive the vowel.
Hear the volume, the intensity level.
Envision the musical phrase.
Now, breathe and let the music come into existence.

–Katherine Kaufman Posner

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

Inspiring Thoughts

“I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each, it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one’s being, a satisfaction of spirit. One becomes, in some area, an athlete of God. Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.”

– Martha Graham

The life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction in the life of the nation, is very close to the center of a nation’s purpose – and it is the test of the quality of a nation’s civilization.

–Inscribed at the JFK Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C. – Public papers of the President 1962

 

 

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!