My teaching philosophy focuses on allowing a student’s pure musical expression to blossom by minimizing the technical obstructions that can hinder this process. These hindrances may include vocal faults, dramatic ambiguities, or even personal insecurities and lack of confidence. I work with each student to assess their needs and to facilitate their artistic growth.
While I believe strong, adaptable vocal technique is extremely important, my students are always reminded of the reason behind the work: communication of the ideas. I believe technique grounded in classical training is the best way to achieve a responsive instrument and therefore, precise communication. I begin lessons with breath training that aims to reclaim the natural, free breathing style our bodies originally intended when we were young children – before years of tension and inhibitions took over! Marrying consistent, free breath with pure, intentional vowels, I work with my students to build consistent tone that is receptive to artistic requests in all areas of the voice. I also like to remind my students that their voices, as musical instruments, are housed within their larger bodies. Any factor that affects their bodies can affect their instrument. As a teacher I try to use this to my advantage, using an ever-growing number of strategies to encourage the vocal development of my students. The improvement of vocal technique is the first vehicle of artistic expression. However, along with technical matters, I discuss the poetry, diction, and dramatic intention of the music with each student. I ask every student to investigate the ‘meaning of the work as a whole,’ to analyze the compositional choices, and to mine the piece for artistic depth though research. My teaching philosophy trusts that a combination of warm enthusiasm and well-crafted instruction can produce young artists who are equipped to communicate with the world around them in whatever musical manner they choose.
Each of my students comes from a diverse and unique background that informs their choices as an artist – as well as their learning style(s). It is my job as an instructor to adapt to their needs and find ways to help them reach their goals. This is an energizing challenge for me, and something I greatly enjoy. Each student has their own reasons for being in my studio, for working to improve their artistry, and for communicating new ideas to others. I find the fresh perceptions of my students’ deeply inspiring. Indeed, the differences of my students (and colleagues) are what make the arts such a fertile ground for new ideas in the first place. Inclusion of these outlooks and experiences is what artistic expression is built upon. The sharing and welcoming of diverse viewpoints is the basis of true communication. For those of us in the musical world, we have found a vehicle that can encapsulate this kind of expression – that can be well-known, but brand new; familiar, yet turned upside down by a different artist. Music can be a universal bridge between two different people, that can only be made stronger and more fascinating by fresh perspectives.
Ms. Kalbacker is very proud of her students' hard work. She has cheered them on as several have won major vocal competitions (including the Boston District H.S. Classical Singer Competition, New York City H.S. Classical Singer Competition and the Young Arts Competition).
With her guidance, Ms. Kalbacker's students have been accepted into top music programs at universities across the country including Boston University, Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, Rice University, Northwestern University, Berklee College of Music, Ithaca College, Westminster Choir College, Oklahoma City University and University of North Carolina - Greensboro.