Agatha Carubia is a voice teacher and the author of “Heart-Based Singing”, a guide to understanding, refining and developing your singing voice. From church choir performances, to the Julliard School, to kundalini yoga, Agatha Carubia, a great supporter of Meludia, shares with us her extensive experience of music and voice pedagogy.
How did you learn music?
I learned music by osmosis at first. My mother went to Manhattan School of Music, graduated with her Master’s degree and became a teacher in the New York City school system. Music was our life. I began voice and piano lessons at an early age and was fortunate enough that music was still part of the school curriculum at that time. High school gave me many opportunities to perform in church as well as in class. I had a very strict music nun who I loved and respected, and a small but power-packed listening room within which my ears were broadened. I was accepted into the Juilliard School right out of high school and then fulfilled all of the requirements under the curriculum to receive my Bachelor and Master of Music in Voice along with many performance opportunities at Lincoln Center.
How did you train your ear?
There was no method presented to me for ear training other than learning songs. In the late 60’s and early 70’s we still had to play our melodies straight off the sheet music to learn a song. Being a soprano in choir did not present the need for hearing inner voices, so I feel that I missed out on a great opportunity for music expansion and understanding.
What was good or bad in the way you learn music?
The good part about needing to learn your own music was that you became a pretty good musician as far as sight reading is concerned. At Juilliard, my first music theory and ear training classes were a rude awakening. They were above my head because I did not understand the language. I was not prepared, although I had a good musical audition and placement testing experience. Musical instinct was my modus operandi, not technical knowledge. As a singer, I was not exposed to ensemble playing and musical discussions as were other young artists who played in chamber music groups or in orchestras.
Today, how do you teach singing?
I teach singing as a reaction to the lack of vocal technique that was given to me as a young singer. There was no theory, no true vocal theory at a physical, spiritual or intellectual level. Therefore, when I came in contact through kundalini yoga with what I now call the “energetic organization of the singing instrument”, a method arose naturally and quite amazingly. I teach a clearly defined, natural understanding of voice which dispels tension, gives flexibility and clearly defines where the stability and freedom is found in the body. The more you understand your voice, the more your true musical intention is delivered.
What do you think of Meludia?
I have to say that your mission statement says it all. Music is already in you. The Discovery level is what I chose in order to understand how my least experienced singing musicians will utilize Meludia. I particularly love the stable/unstable exercise. It seems to work on my senses from a foundational place that seems, within myself, to have been overlooked in my own training. This is so basic, but speaks so deeply. I feel as though we are going into the deepest part of my musicality and redoing its foundation. It is curious that I have a direct emotional response to Meludia, as if the musical blanks that I didn’t know were there, are being filled in. This is remarkable to me. Ten to fifteen minutes a day has me composing and practicing piano again. I cannot wait to see the effect that the Meludia method of music education has on everyone I know. I am not only sending the invitation to use Meludia to my students. I have sent it to their parents as well.
You just published a book (“Heart-Based Singing: Vocal Technique“): could you tell us about it?
Heart-Based Singing is a guide to understanding, refining and developing your singing voice. It is a hybrid of the Eastern chakra energy system and the classical Bel canto vocal technique. Heart-Based Singing serves as a troubleshooting template for your voice with practical exercises, tools and solutions for immediate improvement. Heart-Based Singing gives order to the voice and how it functions. It instills a sound vocal foundation in beginners and is a clarifier for more advanced singers. It is a more energetic look at how singing works in the body.
In your opinion, what can music education do for our world?
From my view as a voice teacher, I see freedom of expression, nurtured by a loving teacher, as a gift that keeps on giving. Music comes straight out of the intuitive heart of the musician. Music education provides an oasis, a sanctuary and classroom for the nurturing of the non-material world of wonder, beauty and all that is not involved in the machinations of survival on the planet. I have devoted my life to music. My mother devoted her life to music. And my son, who is a successful opera singer, devotes his life to music. To receive the blessing of a call to music, as well as the talent to reach a high level there-in, the next step is to give the gift, to share what you have learned and experienced. The importance of music in our lives is a fact. Music is a language which promotes peace, harmony and healing. Programs such as Meludia can now assist in the unfurling of everyone’s innate musical capabilities regardless of the level of their prior musical education.