Bel Canto Boot Camp Guiding Principles

Bel Canto Boot Camp is an online community of singers and lovers of singing. 
It is a place to learn, a place to listen, a place to be heard. 

Bel Canto Boot Camp offers instruction in “the old Italian style”. By focusing on the seemingly-mysterious core concepts of bel canto style, on developing a keen ear, and on practitioners’ performance mindset, BCBC strives to set a standard for functional vocal music training. While bel canto at first glance might seem a rigorous system of strictly defined goals, even rules, the pursuit of achieving excellence in this style  unlocks singers’ imaginations in whatever they may choose to sing. At the core of bel canto lies the simplicity of the free flowing breath – the voice that is not hindered or obstructed. The voice that insists on saying what it simply must say. The voice that cannot be silenced. 

BCBC’s comprehensive approach begins with kindness to self, which enables each practitioner to extend kindness to others, to create a safe space for vulnerability, honesty, exploration, and growth. As a collective of practitioners, we are guided by our musical and personal values. Instead of assimilation into the competitive mold of the professional music industry, we aspire to lay a foundation of knowing ourselves and working towards excellence in all its forms, with commitment and in community. 

BCBC is guided by the spirit of ubuntu, a Southern African term loosely translated as “I am, because we are.” The individual is shaped by the community, which in turn is enriched by both our individual and collective actions. We are building a culture of mutual understanding, respect, and allyship, both in our music-making and our working relationships. We recognize the systemic issues facing our industry, not limited to recent headlines with well-publicized instances of racism, sexism, and sexual harassment. In the spirit of ubuntu, we seek to: affirm and celebrate diversity; meet the needs of our practitioners with equity; and radically practice inclusion as a collective. 

Diversity: The diversity we affirm includes but is not limited to race, ethnicity, national origin, creed, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, socioeconomic status, or ability. We value excellence in all its diverse forms, recognizing and nurturing each person’s varied and unique gifts. We seek to build a community not just of singers, but of instrumentalists, conductors, as well as lovers of singing. We embrace musicians who do not aspire to be paid for their art, because the arbitrary line between “professional” and “amateur” does not serve our goals of shared knowledge and joyful music making. Learning together, we become better practitioners, better listeners, and better colleagues.

Equity: Through our online medium, we are able to break the often-prohibitive barriers of distance, cost, time, and audition-only limitations. Our program is affordable for those with fewer opportunities to access expensive training, and we commit to provide financial assistance to those who need it. 

Inclusion: True inclusion demands that we be allies to one another, both within and outside of BCBC. We will stand up for one another in our fight against arbitrary industry standards, and against discrimination. We will collectively voice the changes we want to see. We pledge to center and learn from the voices and lived experiences of members from groups that have not held decision-making power in our industry. 

As an inclusive community, BCBC actively seeks and implements members’ opinions on programming and delivery methods. While BCBC’s focus is on building excellence in the historical practice of the bel canto style of singing, we welcome participants from all musical and cultural backgrounds. Our essential goal of unlocking the singer’s voice embraces musical expression in any style that is central to our members’ culture and lived experience.  We reject the elitist idea that Western art music should be held up as a higher art form. We acknowledge that there is much to learn from any style outside of the Western canon.

We dedicate the work of Bel Canto Boot Camp to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an opera lover, who found in our art form the power to bridge and cross divides. She once said that she experienced the beauty of a voice like an electric shock running through her. She knew how to lose herself in opera and find inspiration in its stories.  She was an advocate for the power of the human voice. She inspires us.