“Relax!” Screams Teacher

John Man, young musician and mouth-user, is studying to be a classical singer. He is currently learning with a truly brilliant singing teacher called Boris Schnupsky, who is famous for his strong personality and tough approach, and who also teaches singing.

“When you’ve had the sort of career I’ve had!” said Boris, apparently finished with that thought.

Schunpsky has a revolutionary approach to teaching voice which consists of
1) being regularly surprised by what the student does not yet know
2) referring to technical details with special terms he invented himself, and
3) making sure the students are not nervous, tense, or afraid.

“Most teachers do not fully appreciate how important it is not to be nervous,” he said. “I make sure to very vigorously instil in my students the golden rule: all you have to do is not be nervous, because if you are nervous, you will fail.”

A key component of Schnupsky’s bold approach is relaxation, or what he calls, “freeing your hoo-ha.” Not to be confused with “riding the hoo-ha,” which is reserved for the more advanced students, this method involves insistently and relentlessly relaxing as if your life depended on it.

“I am always telling my students, relax, RELAX, RELAAAAX!!!” he screamed, causing a passing motorist to veer off the road. “Many struggle to absorb this lesson from me. Your voice is not some aggressive monster from which you desperately try to flee, but alas, my students often have exactly that sort of look in their eyes when they work with me. Don’t worry, with enough time, I will fix them.”

Schnupsky also claims to be the last representative of bel canto singing, not the new perverted kind, but the original kind. “It’s vital that my students do my style of bel canto, which is the real style,” he said. “And to master this style you must breathe in properly, and breathe out even more properly, or what I like to call, ‘servicing the pump.’ I am always telling my students to SERVICE THE PUMP!”

Some of Schnupsky’s colleagues are a little bit wary of his unusual teaching style, such as Bob Guy who works in the room next door. “Sometimes when I’m at home I think I can hear a voice bellowing out RELAX! but then I remember I’m not at work and Boris doesn’t know where I live,” he said. “And this really does help me relax, so I suppose there is a method to the madness.”

Several of Schnupsky’s students spoke to us and were in thrall to his towering stature. “There’s no one else like him,” said Sally McNally, a soprano with extensions. “You can have hundreds of lessons with other people and never learn about the importance of the cajones in expanding the lung-palace to its full wooomph for example. That’s exactly what they did back in the golden age. Of singing.”

As he wrapped up his day of teaching, Schnupsky was keen to inspire us by summarising his teaching philosophy, again. “For me it’s all about teaching the students to express themselves, to flourish creatively, and perhaps most important of all, never embarrassing me and my teaching studio,” he explained. “In a sense, it’s really me who is taking the risk when they perform, so they better relax…if they know what’s good for them.”

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