The Bumbry Way
An online masterclass series


What is the Bumbry Way?

Do your homework! Study the composer:

In what order do I tackle the big project of learning the music and the role?

I always take on the hardest things first, as for example, the last two pages of the opera Norma, where she begs her father to forgive her. The music mounts higher and higher in a minor key up to a B natural, with the chorus accompanying her. Sublime moment! This should be rehearsed over and over again, so as to get over the emotional impact.

Or I might begin somewhere in the middle of an opera, like the unison duet with Cavaradossi in Tosca. "Trionfal, di nuova speme l'anima frema".

Remember that when you're dealing with big voices singing forte and a capella, you must be hyper-aware of pitch, so that when you finally meet the orchestra, that you land in pitch.

A difficult duet might command your attention, such as Radames and Aida immediately following her big aria, "O patria mia". "La tra foreste virgine" calls for delicacy and beauty of tone, which require a sudden shift of emotional and vocal requirements.

When preparing for an emotional moment, you should build up to it and think it through, technically, then bring in the emotions. Repeat this action over and over and over until you can do it practically in your sleep, with emotions and voice.

Preparing for the Applause!

Yes, you can and must prepare for the applause. You must learn and respect the healing power of your voice and what it means to people other than yourself.

You certainly must be aware of your sound and how it affects you. Sometimes in practicing a piece of music you can become so overwhelmed with its beauty that you are brought to tears. When this happens, you know that you have touched infinity. It's not of your own doing, but something greater than you that has stepped in. Those moments may be infrequent, but when they happen in your practice, you know that you must get ready for thunderous applause in your performance.

If you, yourself, have been moved by that sound, you can be certain that your audience will have felt it also.

There is something very special about how a composer will have written a certain note in a phrase, and when taken correctly, with the right vowel placement combined with your sensitivity of the moment, it's something so utterly sublime that one must applaud.

For that reason, it's wonderful that audiences are allowed to applaud. It's a moment of relief and release for them and a moment of accordance for the singer.

Expect Success

In order to succeed, there must be passion, practice, and perseverance.

When you're passionate about something, the work that goes into it is lightened. It's an enjoyment! Your accumulation of knowledge leads to a whole new way of life. What people call "luck" smiles on you, and you find success, because you apply yourself with perseverance to your field.

It is most important that you ask yourself, What do I want to do with my life? Why am I here? What does God have in store for me?

It seemed that my life was already being charted for me when my mother started me with piano lessons at 7 years of age. I stayed with the piano until I was 15, then moved on to voice lessons. The piano experience planted a deep respect for discipline, and I applied that in my quest to become a singer. While studying voice at The Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara I became certain about what my life was to be. I acquired a passion for practicing, so that I could learn what the composer, poet, and librettist had in mind.

After an automobile accident, coming back from a voice lesson, I landed in the hospital. While waiting for the doctor to release me, I had a visitation from God, who clearly said, "in answer to your question, you are going to be fine. You simply must follow instructions and my advice." I say it was God, because who else would have known my constant question? What I learned very early was a passage from the Bible that my mother quoted often, "In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path".

I definitely persevered under the most difficult of circumstances. My racial breakthrough at the Bayreuth Festival, singing the role of Venus in Tannhäuser, is burned into my happiest of memories, along with the other pioneering roles that became mine to fill.

Grace-Melzia Bumbry

Vocal Instructor | Founder

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Grace Bumbry: Vocal Instructor | Founder of the Grace Bumbry Vocal and Opera Academy

Grace-Melzia Bumbry

One of operas most controversial artist is always making Headlines, after having a 50-year plus career being called „Phenomenally Preserved“. Critics and audiences around the world continue to cheer this celebrated artist...
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Not every DIVA gives back to the music community, but Bumbry believes that it is necessary to pass on tradition, style and the insatiable love for opera and music to all who want to obtain it. She is invited as master teacher in universities and colleges worldwide.

Following Organisations

  • The Bumbry Way
  • Grace Bumbry Black Musical Heritage Ensemble
  • Bellamora Enterprises
  • Inner Wheel