Many singers participate in study programs abroad during the summer. As a voice teacher and faculty member for a summer program in Italy, I am often asked, why should singers consider participating in a summer program?
There are a plethora of reasons! Yes, it can be very expensive, but if you choose the right program for you, the benefits can far outweigh the costs. If you have never traveled abroad, an international summer program is a great way to see another part of the world. Being immersed in a new culture can be a life-changing experience. I have done countless summer programs as a singer and have now been on the other side as a faculty member for the International Opera Performing Experience, which takes in Italy. Each experience has enriched my life in new and unexpected ways. Learning the history and culture of a new place, visiting museums and churches, tasting amazing new culinary dishes, and talking with people from a different country is simply fantastic. Even learning to read a train schedule or figuring out how to find your hotel in a new city really gets you out of your comfort zone.
Another benefit is the people you meet. I made some wonderful connections with participants and faculty members at each program I was a part of, and many of those people I am still in contact with today. I have gotten singing gigs and teaching jobs from the connections I forged while studying abroad. I have also made lifelong friendships with fellow singers and colleagues.
And of course, the most important reason is that a summer program can help you grow as a singer and artist. Participating in a summer program means that you have traveled a considerable distance from home to further hone your skills as an artist. There no distractions- you are there to work on your voice, your technique, your repertoire, your role. You do not have to worry about your job, your music theory class, your family, or whatever. Your sole purpose is to explore all the possibilities of you. If you truly take advantage of that opportunity, it can be a completely transformative experience.
And while you are working on your voice, you hopefully are also immersed in daily language classes. Learning a language while immersed in that culture can also help you grow as a singer, in addition to greatly improving your diction skills. Other benefits, depending upon your program, would be learning and performing an entire role, having the experience of singing with professionals who already have established careers, and having weekly lessons and coachings with experts in the field.
So if you have never traveled abroad, or had the opportunity to participate in a summer voice program, now is the time to start planning for next summer! Believe me, it is worth the financial sacrifice if you find the right program for you. What is not to love about growing as a person and artist all the while experiencing a new and different culture?