Guest teacher

When I am in the demand-over-supply situation, it is always a pleasure to invite RAalph Schatzki to be on-board as a guest teacher at my studio.

Teaching Philosophy | Artist Biography

Pradichaya Poonyarit Voice Studio | Lehigh Valley, Easton, PA

Teaching Philosophy

One's body is one's own vocal instrument, and one carries it around everywhere she or he goes.

The beauty of singing is in how it allows one to express himself in a unique and particularly fulfilling way. But it is not just about expression: it is also about the wholeness experienced when the vision is realized through the marriage of artistry and technique.

Each of us sings for a different- and valid- reason; but, when someone pursues voice lessons it is because he wants to do more. Exactly what that is must be discussed with the teacher, both early and often, for the teacher-student relationship is like any other: it only works when there is a common goal.

I recognize not everyone wants to train their voices to a professional level, and even fewer are willing to do the work in order to do so. And that's okay. As long as there is constant and dedicated progress toward whatever expectations have been agreed upon, the relationship is a beneficial one.

The other critical component to a good relationship is trust. A student must trust his teacher to provide him with good information and guidance; otherwise, the resistance interferes with learning and progress. Trust is a two-way street, of course, and I actively encourage students to ask questions. (This can be difficult in the case of a beginning student.)

A typical lesson begins with gradually more demanding vocal exercises, each of which is intended to: awaken the voice and the various muscles associated with it, develop coordination between them, and reinforce and introduce good vocal technique. When a student has a particular issue it is, of course, addressed specifically and in detail. There is usually a lot of stopping and starting during the beginning of this warm up, but as it progresses and the student gets more and more on track, the interruptions become less frequent. It's a lot like tuning: what begins as very raw soon becomes fine.

The remainder of the lesson is spent applying these ideas within the context of actual repertoire, such as songs, arias, or show tunes. Again, the beginning of this time often has stops and starts, as it can be a difficult adjustment to move from vocal exercises to songs; although it is often best to let a student first sing through an entire piece, in order to let him learn through whatever difficulties he might encounter and have to attempt to overcome on his own.

What exactly is a voice teacher? My main concern is with the development and utilization of the vocal instrument itself- from posture, to breath, to the utilization of various muscles. The focus is to enable students to develop their voices and to build them upon a natural foundation. I am an experienced and sympathetic listener, and I give constructive and tangible feedback to my students.

I am not a vocal coach- one whose main job is to help a singer develop the musical aspects of a performance- nor am I a singing teacher- one who gives pointers on how best to incorporate all aspects of a performance in order for it to have the greatest impact. Yet, because singing is a form of expression, none of these roles can exist exclusively from the others. This means I must be aware of musical and performance issues, and I keep these in mind while helping a student build his voice. Just as a vocal coach wouldn't ask a singer to do something technically impossible (no matter how “musical” it might be), I would not ask a student to do something technically that would prohibit him from exploring interpretive alternatives.

And this is what studying voice is all about: freeing the instrument in order that musicality and expression may flourish.

How to Join
Set up an interview

Artist Biography

Ralph Schatzki has been a performing professional singer for three decades. He obtained a B.A. in Music from Oberlin College, and while working toward his law degree at Indiana University (Bloomington) still found the time to continue his vocal studies. He completed his studies at the Hartt School of Music. He was also engaged to be part of several prominent vocal apprenticeships, spending two summers as a studio artist at Chautauqua Opera, and a year each at the Greater Miami Opera and Sarasota Opera.

Ralph began teaching voice soon afterward, and he has now been an established voice teacher for more than twenty years.

As a performer, he has appeared in lead roles with several other opera companies, both in the Northeast and in Southeast Asia, including: Bangkok Opera, Lyric Opera Malaysia, Singapore Lyric Opera, Taconic Opera, Chelsea Opera, Concert Opera Philadelphia, Empire Opera, as well as many others. His professional credits include: Scarpia (Tosca), Michele (Il Tabarro), Tonio and Silvio (I Pagliacci), Alfio (Cavalleria rusticana), Don Giovanni, Amonasro (Aida), and Gerard (Andrea Chenier).

Ralph also has numerous recital, concert, and oratorio credits to his name, His repertoire encompasses the range from the solos in The Messiah, the Requiems of Mozart, Brahms, and Faure, and Carmina Burana, to Gershwin show tunes- all of which he has performed professionally.

Sound Gallery