You expertly walked the thin line between critique and nurture during the master class at Victoria College last week. My students were anxious before the class began. Truth be told, a couple were scared to death, but by the end of the class they were all "eating out of your hand". I was also inspired and invigorated by your approach and advice. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, experience and time.

Cathy Lowe, Victoria College, Texas USA

I LOVE teaching. Long before I had any hope or dream of an operatic career I was a teacher. That’s what I trained for at university, that’s what’s on my bachelor's degree, that’s the vocation that got sidelined by a rather busy life as a classical singer. A high school mathematics classroom might seem a long way from a conservatory studio but the principles of teaching remain the same. In both cases the goal is to take someone on a journey with you, to make the material comprehensible to them at whatever stage of life or ability and, most importantly, to share the joy of the learning process to their ultimate benefit.

Down the years I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented people in the world (see long and somewhat self-aggrandizing list below). Directors, conductors, vocal coaches, voice teachers, Alexander Technique instructors, dance masters (!!) – my career has been one long education structured on a sort of seminar system: Assemble a team of world-class artists, spend a month or more working intensively on a masterpiece of the repertoire and see what happens. You can’t help but pick up some amazing knowledge along the way, knowledge I like to pass on to a new generation of singers.

Gordon gets to the heart of things - he supports the students in their technical journey and also draws upon a wealth of performance experience to nurture the creative part of singing. But perhaps the most crucial part of his teaching is that he connects with singers, making them feel safe - from this safety they can take risks and fly!

Mairéad Sheerin, Blackheath Conservatoire, London, UNITED KINGDOM

I have always enjoyed teaching master classes. Sometimes that one important thing you say to a singer can change their entire approach. I have experienced this myself throughout my career as I worked with many talented professionals. I am certain those people never even realized the huge impact they had on me. Regular sessions with a young singer, though, is where I really have the chance to make a difference. I love to see a student grow and blossom and come into a realization of their own unique power as a performer. The dynamic of a sustained musical relationship is exciting.

Plus, at some point or other I’ve pretty much done everything wrong one can possibly do. With the help of the many wonderful colleagues I mentioned I was able to find my way out of these dead-end streets. The experience I gained from my own struggles gives me the ability to easily put myself in the place of the student and relate to their situation. In some ways I am a living, breathing, singing cautionary tale!

It’s not enough, however, to say, Just don’t do that. Don’t squeeze. Don’t push. Don’t __________ (insert appropriate verb). Science has proved how difficult it is to DO A NEGATIVE. Accordingly, my approach is very positive. Don’t do that needs to become Do this instead.

The fundamental principle I teach is freedom (cue George Michael, circa 1990). By learning to disentangle the tongue, jaw and larynx the student can discover a liberated, natural sound, unique to them, one that is unhampered by inappropriate muscular involvement. Disentanglement allows the flow of air to produce a sound of maximum power, beauty and ease. Ultimately the student’s voice becomes an instrument that readily responds to the emotional and musical demands of the repertoire. I want to empower the singers to take control of their technique, their development and their musical expression.
My goal is to work myself out of a job…

Just wanted to share with you that the students were all abuzz after your class, talking about how it was one of the best ones we have ever had, with so much awesome help and information and that you are such a wonderful, funny and inspirational person/artist.
All true.

Elizabeth Turnbull, University of Alberta, Edmonton, CANADA

I would like each student to:
- Have an understanding of their own instrument and how it functions
- Learn a reliable technique in which they have confidence, one that enables them to work independently
- Apply these vocal basics to a variety of musical styles
- Establish a work ethic that is professional in preparation of repertoire and work practices
- Become a confident performer and trust their own instincts
- Develop sensitivity to others onstage and be a good colleague
- Be more adventurous in their performance/repertoire ideas and to think 'outside of the box', eschewing the easy and obvious psychology of any given piece

Singing is all about expression, communication. You have something to say – I want to help you say it in the best way possible. Basta.

Gordon has the rare ability to immediately connect with the students. He presents his ideas clearly and in a variety of ways that the students can easily understand, tailoring his presentation to the needs of the individual. More than anything, though, he gives completely of himself and fires up the singers with his enthusiasm for performing in all its aspects. The singers leave energized and excited.

Catrin Wyn-Davies, Leuven, Antwerp, BELGIUM

A few tidbits from my teaching journey thus far:

Master Class
McDonogh School
Baltimore, USA

Master Class
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, CANADA

Master Class
Victoria College
Victoria, Texas USA

Master Class
University of Alberta
Edmonton, CANADA

Guest Vocal Instructor under Mairéad Sheerin
Blackheath Conservatoire

Master Class
University of Calgary
Calgary, CANADA

Guest Vocal Instructor under Catrin Wyn-Davies
LUCA School of Arts

Guest Vocal Instructor under Catrin Wyn-Davies
Koninklijk Conservatorium Den Haag

Guest Vocal Instructor
Edmonton, CANADA

Master Class
University of Western Ontario
London, CANADA

Master Class
University of Victoria
Victoria, CANADA

Guest Vocal Instructor
Opera Kelowna
Kelowna, CANADA

Conductors of Note (or of notes, if you will. Get it? No? Nothing? Too soon?)
Sir Simon Rattle
Riccardo Muti
Hans Graf
Kurt Masur
Seiji Ozawa
Andrés Orozco-Estrada
Bramwell Tovey
Pinchas Zuckerman
Mario Bernardi
Leslie Uyeda
Eiji Oue
David Agler
Marin Alsop
Sir Andrew Davis
Markus Stenz
Marc Albrecht
Trevor Pinnock
Agnès Grossmann
Hartmut Hänchen
Sakari Oramo
Christoph Eschenbach
Jukka-Pekka Saraste
Stéphane Denève
Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
Kenneth Montgomery
Graeme Jenkins
Jonathan Webb
Robert Spano
Daniel Lipton
Sir Colin Davis
Jiří Bělohlávek
Kiril Petrenko
Esa-Pekka Salonen
Valery Gergiev
Daniel Beckwith
David Atherton
Leo Hussain
Yves Abel
Anne Manson
Michel Plasson
Stephen Barlow
Reinbert de Leeuw
David Robertson
Iván Fischer
William Lacey
Richard Bradshaw
Dmitri Jurowski
Vladimir Jurowski
Jiří Kout
Leonard Slatkin
Edward Gardner
Harry Bicket
Ivor Bolton
Sir John Eliot Gardiner
Asher Fisch
Charles Dutoit
Kent Nagano
Edo de Waart
Sylvain Cambreling
Bernard Labadie
Stephen Lord
Elmer Iseler
Thomas Ades
Jacques Lacombe
Timothy Vernon

Directors (the bored of directors, if you will. Get it? No? Nothing? Too soon?)
Robert Carsen
Andrea Breth
Sir Peter Hall
Laurent Pelly
Michael Cavanagh
Pierre Audi
Robert Lepage
Colin Graham
Peter Sellars
David Gately
Robert Driver
Daniele Abbado
John Copley
William Kentridge
Daniel Kramer
Macha Makeïeff
Guy Joosten
Robert Wilson
Jean-François Sivadier
Sir Trevor Nunn
Stephen Langridge
Serge Denoncourt
Francesca Zambello
Timothy Albery
Graham Vick
Jonathan Miller
Katie Mitchell
Christopher Alden
Robert Driver
Laurence Dale
Wim Trompert
David Alden
Ian Strasfogel
Bernard Uzan
Robin Phillips
Harry Kupfer
Nicholas Muni
Allison Grant

Teachers Who Made A Difference
Ernest Atkinson
Catrin Wyn-Davies
Mary Morrison
Guy Barzilay
Pierre Vallet