Great Teachers on Great Singing

ISBN: 978-0-9910876-2-4, 226 pages, soft cover

by Robin Rice, DMA

Interviews, based on observation of lessons, with fourteen of America's most prominent and successful teachers of singing.

Edited for concision, continuity, and clarity by Katherine Osborne

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In every block of marble, I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.

One of the first things any teacher learns is the truth in Michelangelo’s words. But students are unique, and they learn in different ways; therefore, teachers can’t rely on a fixed methodology, most especially when it comes to teaching singing. Successful teachers quickly learn they must be creative. And as their teaching of the art evolves, teaching becomes an art in its own right. In short, their skill and wisdom is guided by experience.

Having a compilation of ideas and techniques from some of the brightest and best voice teachers in our country has always been an exciting prospect to me, and is one of the biggest reasons that I wanted to write this book. I chose my subjects from both inside and outside academia not only for their successes, but for the uniqueness of their approaches. In talking with them and observing them in action, I discovered that while each has his or her individual style of teaching and strong ideas about what works and what does not, they all have one very important thing in common: their end game is all the same. They want to take their students to the highest attainable level of the art. This book highlights how they go about moving toward that goal as they do their best to simplify the process and demystify singing technique.

-Robin Rice

Interviews with:

Penelope Bitzas, Joyce Farwell, Julia Faulkner, George Gibson, Ruth Golden, Robert Harrison, Stephen King, Patricia McCaffrey, Everett McCorvey, Heidi Grant Murphy, Bill Shuman, George Shirley, W. Stephen Smith, Carol Vaness

Click here for a sample chapter from Great Teachers on Great Singing, featuring an interview with master teacher George Shirley

Robin Rice, baritone, is a Professor of Voice and Chair of Voice at The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. He is also a voice instructor at the Aspen Music Festival.He earned the Bachelor of Music degree at Baylor University and the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. A specialist in the French repertoire, Rice became an honored participant under Elly Ameling, Gerard Souzay, and Dalton Baldwin at the Cleveland Art Song Festival. He also won the Carolyn Brice Award in the National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Award Competition. He has worked with many luminaries such as Maestra Alberta Masiello, Theodore Uppmann, Barbara Honn, Jon Spong, Richard Hughes, Joyce Farwell, Kenneth Griffiths and Tom Jaber.

Dr. Rice has received international acclaim for his teaching. He served as the Master Teacher with Utah’s Young Artist Apprentice Programs, San Diego Opera Ensemble, Florida Grand Opera's Young Artist Apprentice Program, Nightingale Opera Theatre Young Artists program, Pensacola Opera AIRS program, and the Indianapolis Opera Resident Artists program. Rice has also taught at many prestigious summer programs such as the Amalfi Coast Music Program in Vietri sul Mare, Italy, the International Asian Opera Workshop in Taipei, Taiwan, the International Asian Opera Project in Kunming, China, the Up North Vocal Institute, and the International Opera Festival in Beijing, China.

In addition, Dr. Rice has given master class at Instituto Superior de Arte del Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Castellina in Chianti Vocal Workshop in Tuscany, Italy, Cullasaja Vocal Workshop in North Carolina, University of Colorado at Boulder, Rice University, Saint Mary’s College of Notre Dame, Baylor University, and he has given a series of master classes in Taiwan. He has also appeared as a Master Teacher in Kunming, China and at Beijing University.

Rice’s students have performed leading roles in major international opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, Opéra-Théâtre de Limoges, Teatro Dell’Opera Roma, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Komische Oper Berlin, Firenze’s Teatro del Maggio Musicale, Bayerische Staatsoper, Royal Swedish Opera Stockholm, Kyrenia Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Sarasota Opera, San Diego Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Florida Grand Opera, New Orleans Opera, Ft. Worth Opera, New York City Opera, and Washington National Opera. Many have won prestigious national and international competitions. His students also have appeared in many apprentice programs, including Santa Fe, San Francisco, Chautauqua Opera, Opera Theater of Saint Louis, Glimmerglass, The Academy of Vocal Arts, and Wolf Trap.


I am delighted to introduce Great Teachers on Great Singing, by my colleague and friend, Robin Rice. The subtitle for this book might read: Interviews with some of the finest singing teachers in America, based on observations of their lessons. These master teachers present a broad range of technical approaches to vocal excellence and artistry, proving once again that there is more than one way to “skin the cat.”

Rice’s book follows in the footsteps of Jerome Hines’ masterpiece, Great Singers on Great Singing (1982), but with a twist. Hines interviewed singers with whom he worked on the great opera stages of the world, and with medical experts who attended to their health. In the process, he revealed a huge diversity of opinions and techniques, along with some significant misconceptions about physiology and resonance maintained by the top echelon of professionals. By contrast, Rice explores the diverse techniques used by highly successful teachers—people who enable the beautiful singing we love to hear.

-Scott McCoy, voice professor and publisher


Katherine Osborne (editor) is a member of the Voice Faculty at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) where she teaches studio voice, voice pedagogy, and diction. She previously served on the voice faculties at Ohio Wesleyan University and the Washington National Cathedral. Dr. Osborne has presented research and workshops related to pedagogy, voice science, and singing health at the Voice Foundation Annual International Symposium, International Congress of Voice Teachers in Stockholm, Sweden, Fall Voice Conference, the Voice Forum and Pedagogy Summit at The Ohio State University, and UNI’s Vocal Arts Festival. Her article titled “Breaking the Glass Slipper: Recognizing and Retraining the Misclassified Low Female Voice” was published in VoicePrints: The Journal of the New York Singing Teacher’s Association in 2016. She was honored to receive the 2014 Van Lawrence Fellowship, presented by the Voice Foundation and NATS, and the 2015 Helen Swank Pedagogy Award from OSU.

      Dr. Osborne maintains an active performing career in opera, oratorio, and art song. Her performance in Donizetti’s L’ajo nell’imbarazzo was hailed by The Washington Post as “outstanding…[she] projected a fiery personality and sang graceful coloratura.”  Recent performances include a series of concerts at the Härnösand Summer Opera Festival in Sweden, where she is a member of the artist teaching faculty. Her training includes a Doctor of Musical Arts degree and Singing Health Specialization from OSU, Master of Voice Pedagogy degree from Westminster Choir College, a Bachelor of Music degree from Stetson University, and a 2010 teaching internship with the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS).