Singers Have Homework???
When I was applying to conservatories, I kept wondering what the daily workload of a singer would be. What kind of homework would I even have? Once I came to Juilliard, I quickly learned what the work of a singer entails.
First, I have my academic classes. Juilliard believes in creating artists that have a knowledge of the world outside of music, so everyone is required to take one Liberal Arts course per semester. This semester I’m taking Ethics, which mainly focuses on philosophy and, as you may have guessed, ethics. For this class, I have required reading every night.
I have a few classes that are required of all musicians, and those consist of Music Theory, Ear Training, and Piano. In Ear Training, we have a small assessment every class that we prepare for beforehand, which can consist of rhythm exercises, singing scales, and sight reading, among others.
Music Theory homework depends on what subject we are studying at the time; we just finished studying counterpoint, and for that unit we would have to bring in one line of music that we wrote.
Piano is probably the most fun of all my homework. I practice any new scales or techniques that we covered in class, and my teacher assigns us a piece every few weeks.
In addition to these classes, singers take a few extra classes. Some of them are at a set time in our schedule every week, and some classes occur every other week or don’t involve any outside preparation or practice. In addition to our music classes, first-year singers (at least first semester) also take Italian, Italian Diction, and Phonics.
Italian is also considered a liberal arts course, but it is not required of other majors. For Italian, I am given a worksheet to complete by the next class (Italian I meets twice a week).
The workload for Italian Diction varies week to week, but it usually consists of some kind of IPA assignment (IPA stands for the International Phonetic Alphabet, a tool singers use to easily sing in other languages). The assignment could be on an assigned passage of text from an aria, or it could be for a song you are currently working on. The same kind of assignment is also given weekly in Phonics.
Once I finish all of these assignments, it’s time to practice!