For the past 17 years I have been traversing the globe as a professional opera singer. The fact that I have been able to rely solely on my singing as a means of support has been a tremendous privilege and advantage for my family and me. Most people have little or no idea how my relationship with Robert Becker played and continues to play a vital role in my life as a singer.
Bob and I first met in 1995 in Cleveland, OH. I was working an office job and singing on the side. Through good fortune, Bob invited me to join his singing troupe at La Dolce Vita – a restaurant in the Little Italy district of Cleveland. We sang there nearly every Monday evening. And when I say we sang, that’s exactly what I mean. We went at it quite intensely and on a very high artistic level. We explored so many kinds of music – not just opera. And in between our sets of songs, Bob and I would talk voice. It was unlike any way in which I had ever talked about singing in the past. Bob had an innate understanding of what was going on with my voice as it related to technique and the psychology of singing.
My being able to join forces with Bob at that time led to so many great things for me. I eventually left my office job and began studying at one of the most prestigious opera finishing schools in the nation. Bob stayed in touch with me and continued gently encouraging me to think about singing and the voice in ways that could make me better. Now more than 20 years later, the same remains true. We are in regular touch about singing and life and how those two intersect to inform our perception of what voice is. Nearly all singers impose certain restrictions on their singing by taking on unnecessary physical habits. Learning to release those bad habits is the key to unlocking the voice. And that, I would say, summarizes Bob’s methodical approach to building good technique. He never advocates controlling the voice, but rather speaks to the importance of allowing it to exist in its most efficient and natural state. To accomplish this, he really listens in a way that few others can.
Bob is a wonderful friend, listener, singer and teacher. Without any reservation, I would encourage anyone to sing for him and get his opinion. You will find him to be genuine, generous and truthful. And for a fact he will not harm your voice. On the contrary, he will help it to speak in a way you may not have thought possible.
Thank you for your friendship and expertise, Bob! It continues to mean so much to me!
Shawn Mathey – Operatic Tenor
Studying under Bob Becker is one of the smartest decisions that I have ever made. As a current sophomore in the acting program at the Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, I utilize what Bob has taught me every single day, whether it pertains to the voice-work itself, or what it means to be an artist.
For five years of my life, from seventh grade to my senior year, I went to the Baldwin Wallace conservatory to study voice with Bob. Every single week, whether it be on Thursday evenings or Saturday afternoons, I met with him. Each lesson was challenging, exciting and fun, all wrapped up into forty-five minutes. Even longer if I was the last slot of the day, Bob takes his time with breakthroughs and development. Every second counts with him. Whenever I missed classes, or had a big gig coming up, Bob was always extremely accommodating to my scheduling. All the classes that I missed were made up with him taking time from his personal off days and hours.
When it comes to what I have learned, by studying under Bob, I have developed lifelong skills and an even better lifelong friend and mentor. Bob’s passion is tangible in every lesson. I will never forget the way it felt when I produced a note or a single tone that made Bob’s eyes widen, his mouth gape open with a smile, and his hand raise with a pointed finger. The discoveries we made together, and yes, they are all together, have stuck with me through my first year of my education at CCM.
As an acting student, I am required to take four years of intense vocal work with world-renowned teachers, one of which is a published author. The other, whom I’ve studied with this year, has taught in New Zealand and serves as a dialect coach at dozens of theaters across the world. He has taught at the Guthrie Theater, most notably. With his own words, he told me that I was the most advanced student in my class when it came to my vocal work. I, without a doubt, attribute that to Bob. I think it really speaks to Bob’s knowledge and skill when some of the words that came out of this specific teacher’s mouth were almost identical to the words that Bob shared with me. I feel like I have a tremendous leg up on my peers at college thanks to Bob.
Bob’s philosophy on the human voice is very unique, but in the best way possible. If you are looking for someone to teach you not only how to sing, but how to live as a present artist and human being as well, WORK WITH BOB. I went from only being able to carry a tune to having a vocal awareness that has been commended by one of the leading vocal coaches in the world. I find singing to be a matter of ease and awareness, rather than a matter of production and manufacturing. I found my voice with Bob.
Singing is an expression of the soul. How did I come by this philosophy? Two words: Robert Becker.
I’m no neophyte when it comes to working with voice teachers. I’ve had four different voice coaches in my 35 years of singing in church choirs, ensembles and quartets. Rob Becker was the best. He is not your typical, run of the mill voice teacher. He has expertise in all aspects of performing. Being a performer himself, he has the uncanny ability to unlock the physical and mental constraints that held me back from finding my authentic voice.
Singing is a very personal endeavor. Therefore, a trusting bond must be established between teacher and student. Rob has a wonderful holistic vocal approach, great communication skills and years of experience figuring how to get the most out of every singer he works with. I developed confidence and competence under Rob’s tutelage. He knows how to free up the voice from the fears and tensions that most of us have when “trying” to produce our best sound. The key for me was his ability to unlock the vocal and physical tension of which I was unaware.
I’m a 40-year member of the Harmony Society and in 2011, my quartet, Over Easy won the Senior International Competition in Las Vegas (scroll down on that page to see the 2011 winner). This could not have been achieved without the guidance and coaching I received from Rob Becker. Together we discovered and unleashed my true, authentic voice. If you’re serious about finding yours and are willing to trust this teacher’s interactive process, Rob Becker is the best go-to-coach you will ever have.
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