Biography

The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery. — Mark Van Doren

Michelle Minke may be most immediately recognized by her distinctive, rich soprano voice and commanding stage presence, but it is her judgment, sensitivity and passion for teaching that distinguish her as an exceptional instructor.

Michelle offers private lessons to aspiring professional singers and those who have an earnest desire or curiosity to sing. She teaches on the voice faculty at Ambrose University College, the Chinook School of Music and as a branch teacher for the Mount Royal University Conservatory. She also mentors advanced students working with the Calgary Opera Chorus, Spiritus Choir, Kantorei Choir, the Calgary Philharmonic Chorus, and coaches other vocal instructors as a peer mentor. Her private studio is warm, inviting, down-to-earth and filled with the delight of learning.

Teaching philosophy

Michelle’s students often remark on the positive, supportive atmosphere she creates in the studio, her grounded style of teaching, the depth of knowledge and the bursting energy she brings to every lesson. Focus is on breath and vocal technique, diction, language, musicality, and acting—the basic elements of great singing and the higher purpose of creating meaning through song. Students are encouraged to follow their heart and instincts in dramatic interpretations and are guided to produce their best, most natural vocal tone—unique to each individual and nurtured as such. Students build their singing technique and self-assurance in an atmosphere that recognizes that “mistakes” are part of growth and where confident risk-taking is encouraged.

Student accomplishments

Michelle believes in preparing students to the absolute peak of their abilities. Her students’ accomplishments reflect both their own dedication, fostered by an encouraging teacher, and the strong training they have received. They frequently receive first-class honours in Royal Conservatory of Music examinations and have had the opportunity to study at prestigious training programs including the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy, the Canadian Operatic Arts Academy, Vancouver International Song Institute, Mountainview International Festival of Song, Orford Academy, Opera Nuova, and the International Vocal Arts Institute.

Michelle finds a special interest in preparing young pre-professional students for advanced music studies. Her students have been accepted to highly respected post-secondary music programs at institutions including the University of Toronto, McGill University, the University of British Columbia, the University of Western Ontario, the Eastman School of Music, and the Cincinnati Conservatory.

Advanced studies

Committed to mastering the complexities of classical singing, and to nurturing the complete musician, Michelle has received many academic accreditations including:

  • M.Mus. in Voice Performance specializing in Vocal Pedagogy (University of Toronto)
  • Post-Graduate Diploma in Opera (Royal Academy of Music, London, England)
  • B.Mus. in Voice Performance (University of Toronto)
  • Vocal Performance Diploma (Mount Royal University)

Michelle has pursued advanced studies at The Solti Tekanawa Accademia where she studied with operatic legend Mirella Freni, The Center for Opera Studies in Italy, the Banff Centre, Mountainview International Festival of Song, British Youth Opera, and Opera Nuova. These training programs are respected worldwide for their calibre and distinguished faculty and graduates.

While training extensively in both performance and pedagogy, Michelle has had the privilege of working with celebrated teachers and performers such as Dr. Darryl Edwards, Professor Lorna MacDonald, Wendy Nielsen, Diane Forlano, Jonathan Papp, Patricia Kern, Mirella Freni, Sir Colin Davis, Elly Ameling, Robert Tear, Philip Langridge, Nico Castel, Malcolm Martineau, Sherril Milnes, John Tomlinson, Edith Weins, and Rudolph Jansen. Her teaching reflects important lessons learned from these instructors, but Michelle’s gift is translating these messages to suit the needs of each and every student.

Current projects

Cowtown Opera Summer Academy

In 2011, she founded the Cowtown Opera Summer Academy to connect aspiring opera singers with a network of teachers; vocal, dramatic and language coaches; and even yoga instructors. In this supportive, creative atmosphere, students tap into their true potential as artists while receiving quality performance preparation.

Song Symposium

Michelle recently created the Song Symposium for voice teachers and advanced students in Calgary. Every few months in an intimate setting, high-level performers gather to sing for one another, garner feedback, and share their insights into classical art song repertoire. The focus of each Song Symposium is on high-level discussion—facilitating peer-to-peer mentoring and exchange of knowledge while celebrating important classical works. Past themes have included French mélodie, Italian art song, German Lieder, and English art songs.

Adjudicating

A mark of her widely respected expertise, Michelle is frequently asked to adjudicate music festivals across the province where she judges and provides feedback to emerging talent. Adjudicating commitments include those at the Canmore, Hanna, and Drayton Valley Music Festivals, Calgary’s Celebration of Music Festival, and the Medicine Hat Symphony Concerto Competition.