The teacher inside Marcel Reijans is jubilant. “The best education possible, that is what we wish to provide our students with. We – the four main subject teachers classical singing at Codarts – are therefore terribly pleased that Margreet Honig, the most prominent voice pedagogue in the Netherlands, will be giving a series of master classes here.”
In addition to being an enthusiastic teacher and department representative, Marcel Reijans is also singer himself. Even more: he is one of the leading tenors in the Netherlands, having been active on national and international stages in opera, oratorio, and chamber music. His repertoire ranges from Baroque to 21st-century music. And, like his fellow teacher and baritone Henk Neven, he has studied with Margreet Honig. “Henk and I took lessons with her in Amsterdam, but her roots as a teacher are here in Rotterdam,” says Reijans.
Margreet Honig, soprano, has reached the age of 80 by now. She studied with Annie Hermes and Corrie Bijster at the Amsterdam Conservatoire. She then moved to the United States to continue her studies with Evelyne Lear, and to Paris to master the French repertoire under the supervision of Pierre Bernac. She has given numerous recitals, together with the pianist Rudolf Jansen. For the past four decades she has devoted herself fully to the pedagogical aspects of singing. She was a main subject teacher at both the Rotterdam and Amsterdam Conservatoire for quite some time. Many singers from all over the world have found their way to the big stage because of her help as a singing coach. A well-known statement by her is that she doesn’t want to see a singer, but a singing human being.
Margreet Honig Foundation
In May 2018, Margreet Honig started a foundation with the goal of disseminating her way of teaching singing and preserve it for the future. All the activities of the Margreet Honig Foundation have but one aim: to make professional singers and singing teachers operate at the highest level. In addition to technique (and its development), self-confidence and joy make up the core of the subject, together with acting technique and meditation, which can help the singing person to become a complete artistic personality.
The master classes by Margreet Honig at Codarts take place on 21 November and 12 December 2019, and on 6 February and 9 April 2020. The first one is private; the three other ones are public. Reijans: “Also, Margreet Honig will work two times two days with our teaching team, which, besides Henk and myself, consists of soprano Charlotte Riedijk and baritone Frans Huijts. These are so-called ‘professionalisation days’.”
The choice for team teaching
With this team Codarts has four teachers who have more than won their spurs as singers and are still active in the work field for which they train students. “We have made the choice for team teaching,” says Reijans. “We are – and feel like we are – together responsible for the study programme of students of classical singing. No, team teaching is not the usual approach in our field.”
According to Reijans, at the beginning of the singing study programme there is much emphasis on acquiring a solid technique. Breath and breathing flow must be linked to the active use of the voice mechanism. “This may sound obvious, but for most singers finding their own voice – in the most literal sense – is a challenge. Many have the talent for singing, but how do you transform that talent into vocal craftsmanship?”
Reijans concludes: “I think it’s essential for students to find the sacred flame within themselves and cherish it and keep it ablaze. Singing is top sport. Students must be prepared to go all the way in developing their talent. Coached and supported by us, the teaching team, of course.”