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Katie Kelley is a singer in the Concert Studio for AIMS in Graz 2014. We are excited to have her blog about her summer experiences!

August 3, 2014

Another week of AIMS has come and gone, and even though it feels like only about a day went by, I have attended multiple concerts and masterclasses and lectures, had my first big AIMS performance, had two lessons and two coachings through which I made the progress I would’ve expected from myself over about a semester, finally visited the museum of modern art, taken a five hour wine tour, visited Slovakia for literally less than a minute, and been tutored in German by kind strangers on two separate occasions. We are so busy and we all feel like small children who are amazed by every little thing, so time just flashes by. I can’t believe its August now and I have barely more than two weeks left in this incredible place.


I have loved getting to see so many of my new friends perform in the orchestra concerts and recitals. Everyone here is so talented, which is wonderful, but what is even more wonderful is that AIMS hasn’t only accepted the singers who are the closest to fully developed, finished products. Younger voices and larger instruments who take forever to develop still get opportunities to perform, which is absolutely invaluable to a singer’s training. This is often not the case at school, especially at larger universities with big graduate programs, so the fact that singers can come here and sing Strauss arias with a full orchestra behind them is just awesome, even if it doesn’t sound like Renee Fleming just yet.


I got the chance to perform in the second of the four AIMS Artists in Recital Monday night concerts. It was really a great experience, I don’t think I have ever learned so much from a single experience. First, I got to work with my pianist five separate times leading up to the recital, which is at least four more rehearsals that a singer can really expect. We met alone a few times, and she came to my voice lesson and I went to her coaching. She had so many ideas, both about ensemble and even a couple of musical things that she suggested to me, and it was just a really great collaborative experience. At home I have always been taught that the singer needs to lead the pianist and be in absolute control, which is definitely true, but now I have gotten to learn that it is also true that we are both performers and we both have our own valid ideas about musicality, and that other people’s input is always (well, usually) valuable to a cohesive performance. The other thing I learned was just how much progress I have made in only three weeks of lessons. My lessons are in an incredibly live room, but the performance space was really terribly dry. I felt like I accidentally let myself scream to make up for it, and I know that a lot of what I had learned flew out the window because of nerves. I felt a lot better about the second of the two songs I performed, but I still wasn’t exactly thrilled with my performance. (Is anyone ever?) However, when I listened to the recording, I was actually really happy. In halls that give you nothing back, it always sounds significantly better to the audience than to you, yeah, but still I sound better in this iPhone recording than I do on the professional recording of my May junior recital that I gave in a completely marble room. My teacher here has helped me find a sound that is warmer, brighter, and more relaxed all at the same time, and I am so grateful to get to work with him. I only have four voice lessons left, but I know that by time I leave here I will have made so many lasting changes to my technique and to the way I go about practicing and listening to my voice and body.


Other classes are also going really well. Every day I learn about a thousand things I didn’t know, about the German language, about specific composers and their music and lives, about auditioning, about being a good musician and therefore a good person, and about myself. It is overwhelming but it is invigorating and I feel like I am in the best shape of my life, vocally and musically speaking.