As somebody with their Masters degree in Vocal Pedagogy, I won’t lie – I am always excited to deep dive into technique with anybody who will listen. And Bel Canto Boot Camp has taken me deeper than anything else I have done in my life. While it often feels like the modern voice science world is always obsessing about mechanics, this bootcamp is all about acquiring skills. It’s not trying to fix you – it assumes you are fine as you are, and arms you with the tools to take your own journey through these classic etudes. There is nothing ambiguous about the training – whether you are working on legato, style, or dynamics – it sets up the goal posts and it’s up to you to score. The supplemental materials from Rachelle and Derrick are absolutely incredible – not just masterfully explaining the lessons present in the etudes, but contextualizing them historically, pedagogically, dramatically, and musically. Derrick has the ability to consolidate what would be a full lecture into a single blog post – competitive with the education you would receive at any well regarded institution. And Rachelle’s lessons are invaluable for not just learning which steps to take in order to accomplish the tasks set forth by Vaccai, but also changing your practice mindset to get you into a space where discovery can happen spontaneously. I would recommend the experience to singers of any level, but especially to other working professionals who feel like there may be gaps in their fundamentals – and especially to the modern vocal pedagogue who has not gone through a disciplined bel canto training experience themself.
Thomas Robert Gareau, Luxembourg
I have a whole new appreciation for the singers of the past and the training they went through to sing as well as they did (it was called the “Golden Age” for a reason!). Spending time each day on fundamentals has changed my technique. It seems to be a trend in most institutions to skip over these basic yet crucial steps and I am so thankful for what is perhaps the one plus-side to this quarantine – the TIME to go back and re-train. My voice will never be the same and I am unbelievably thankful.
Mary-Hollis Hundley, soprano, Louisville, Kentucky/New York, New York
I am grateful to be part of this platform that Bel Canto Bootcamp provided…it’s an amazing experience being part of the Vaccai Summer 2020 as a young singer as it gives me the opportunity to learn both from the lessons and from other singers too.
Henry Nyatshane, tenor, Gaborone, Botswana
Vaccai Project 2020 has been a life-changing experience. Even though I have been a professional singer for 40 years and a teacher for 20, I feel as though I’ve gotten a “doctorate” in eight weeks. I can’t wait to see what we’re going to learn in the future. If there’s a silver lining in our current predicament, it is Rachelle Jonck and Derrick Goff!
Melanie Helton, soprano, Professor of Voice at Michigan State University, Director, MSU Opera Theatre
Having a regular, focused practice to daily return to during these uncertain times has been an invaluable lifeline to me. Rachelle is an absolute expert in the field and yet approaches these technical elements with freshness, frankness, and succinctness. For any singer (or appreciator) ready to take the reins on their own progress — legato, listening, ornamentation, and more — look no further.
Madison Leonard, soprano, Maryland MONC Grand Prize Winner
As a busy professional singer, I often don’t have time between productions to revisit the vocal exercises that built my singing technique. Although this pandemic has cost us singers all of our upcoming contracts, I am happy that I am now free to participate in the Bel Canto Bootcamp and reinforce the main tenets of my vocal technique. I collaborate often with Rachelle Jonck and Derrick Goff in preparation for upcoming role debuts, but it has been a revelation to discover the vast amount of knowledge and energy they are sharing with the singers in this program.
Harold Wilson, bass, New Jersey
Bel Canto Bootcamp’s spring and summer Vaccai groups have given me vocal purpose to drive my need to continue practicing and growing as a performing artist. Like so many of my colleagues, my performance opportunities were either canceled, rescheduled, or postponed indefinitely – not only is this professionally devastating but also personally. I have made more vocal improvement (on subtle but substantial issues) these last couple of months than I would have otherwise. As an active teacher, I’ve been able to pass on useful information I’ve learned from your excellently crafted posts and the weekly Zoom meetings, and I’m pleased that a couple of my current and former students are in their respective sub-groups too. I’m encouraging them to be bold and vulnerable! Further, this group has become my “people.” I look forward to my colleagues’ videos; I wait for the friendly competition with my fellow mezzi; I appreciate that the mentors take the time to offer supportive feedback on my videos. The Bel Canto Bootcamp is more than the title states – bel canto is at the heart of the practice but is surrounded by historic and modern performance practice pedagogy and enveloped in community.
Dr. Kimberly Gratland James, mezzo-soprano, Assistant Professor and Voice Area Coordinator at University of Nevada – Las Vegas, Vice President for Outreach, NATS
I’ve been privileged to work with Rachelle in real life for many years, but the Vaccai Project has been a wonderful opportunity not only to revisit (and expand!) my skillset but also to introduce a generation of my own students to her passionate commitment, and talent for bringing out the best in every singer through core technique and expanded musical (literary/ emotional/ linguistic) under-standing. It’s a gift like no other!
Madeleine Gray, Voice Department Chair at Peabody Preparatory, Baltimore
Bel Canto Boot Camp has been so helpful to my singing in these difficult times. I love reading the posts and letting the information and masterful tools sink into my brain. I am really grateful and thankful to Rachelle and the whole team for their generosity and for creating this program.
Maria Brea, soprano, New York, New York
There is no better time to get back to the basics of singing than right now. Vaccai Project gives me daily motivation to work on so many vocal skills that I sometimes push to the back burner or assume are fine the way they are. The goals are clear and the pacing is perfect. Vaccai Project is a healthy dose of vocal vitamins.
Alina Tamborini, soprano, New York
Learning from the incredibly knowledgeable and talented mentors at The Vaccai Project at Bel Canto Boot Camp has afforded me the opportunity to fully immerse myself in the wonderful world of legato. The Vaccai Project has been a beacon of hope and illumination amidst the murky uncertainty of the fate of our industry. I am so grateful for the time to learn and grow as a singer. Thank you so much to Rachelle, Derrick, and all of the mentors for the genesis of what I hope will be a continued valuable resource for singers, teachers, coaches, pianists, conductors, and other individuals interested in beautiful singing.
Laura Isabella, soprano, New Jersey
I am thankful to the Vaccai Summer Program for bringing the love of music back into my life. The steady daily progress, the supportive community, informative posts and collaborative, encouraging spirit have been a balm for my soul. After the Met cancelled their season, I did not want to sing or create music. This community has inspired me and helped me find the joy of daily progress and exploring my vocal ability again.
Rachele Schmiege, Chorister, The Metropolitan Opera
The Vaccai Summer program was an eye-opening experience. As a conductor, I have learned much of my craft and knowledge from working with singers in coachings, rehearsals and performances. However, what Rachelle Jonck and Derrick Goff built was a systematic way leading you to the holy grail of bel canto singing, step by step. The daily post is as informative as any masterclass. They not only demystify the “Italian style” with practical exercises, but with achievable goals, learning objectives, and great historical resources. Through this supportive community, everyone is encouraged to thrive and shine at one’s pace, while continuing to be mentored and inspired. This is a program that I would recommend to all my fellow conductors, and am confident that they would enjoy it and learn as much as I did. Thank you Rachelle and Derrick!
Chaowen Ting, conductor, Music Director of NANOWorks Opera Festival
This has been a bold undertaking, inspiring singers of all levels to aspire to a level beyond their personal limitations, at a time when most are so aware of how helpless they are. The Bel Canto Bootcamp has been an affirmation of what operatic singing is when there’s no reason to believe in anything. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and will express it with my pocketbook!
Dr. Jean-Ronald LaFond, tenor and voice pedagogue, Barcelona
The Vaccai Summer 2020 Bootcamp has given me an opportunity to revisit the very fundamentals of beautiful singing. In the first week alone, I made a breakthrough with analyzing an offset pattern in my middle voice that was creating unnecessary tension. The methodical practice of Vaccai, along with Rachelle and Derrick’s unbelievable insight, guidance, and support, has already up-leveled my singing game in a very short amount of time. The sense of community, and of building other singers up is also very strong here. Thank you Rachelle and Derrick for creating COMMUNITY with a PURPOSE!
Julia Radosz, soprano, Bratislava, Slovakia
Vaccai Summer 2020 has made such a profound impact on my outlook on singing, confidence in working on the skills I need to improve, and overall excitement about the future. I am so thankful for such a welcoming and warm community, especially one that encourages vulnerability and trust in yourself! I’m sure I can speak for many when I say that this happened at the perfect time in my life, especially in a year such as this. Thank you all!
Megan Esther Grey, mezzo-soprano, alumna of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and MONC Finalist