Brian studied voice with Maestro Franz Schuch Tovini in Vienna in 1985 and 1986. With up to 6 half hour sessions per week, his education was intense and aimed at providing him with singing independence.
All lessons were in German. Although Brian's German was reasonably strong as a second language, it was not the same as working in mother tongue, including missing vocabulary. Brian believes this disability ultimately worked to his advantage. Brian was forced to interpret the Maestro's instruction and advice through "feel" and levels of understanding beyond what he had previously known. He describes the process as "learning by absorption or osmosis." He clarifies the process saying, "I found that when I was taught by others in English it was easy to hear the words spoken and then to copy what was a superficial understanding, an understanding at face value. With Schuch - Tovini, I had to interpret more keenly and have a deeper understanding of vocal energy flow. The importance of observing energy flow and resonating sound on the breath became apparent as it had never done before. Through his process he also taught me to 'leave the nest'. He taught me to understand what my voice could do if I let it reveal itself and then have the courage and confidence to trust in my knowledge learned so that I could own that knowledge ."
Brian returned to the Maestro on several occasions for 5 week intervals after returning to Australia in 1987. "The best part of that was, I discovered through Schuch - Tovini's observation on my return visits that I had taken the voice to the next level each time on my own, a true indicator that I had indeed left the nest. I understood what I needed to develop myself further and this gave me considerable confidence."
On first arriving back in Australia, Brian was asked by several colleagues to teach them but declined to teach for more than 5 years. When a colleague became ill during a season of performances he agreed to assist. The improvement for that colleague led to others seeking advice and his teaching developed from there. These early students went on to enjoy successful international careers, one of them directly attributable to intensive sessions with Brian in the lead up to preparing for major auditions. Brian has subsequently assisted several high performance colleagues when invited to do so and has assisted hundreds of singers, teachers and others with vocal difficulties over the years, including individuals with brain damage, cerebral palsy, stuttering and other vocal issues. His work on the internet, expanded this advice and assistance to hundreds of thousands globally.
"For several years when performing I would hear Schuch's voice inside my head as I rehearsed and as I did vocal exercises. Then it was my voice that guided me and at this time I knew Schuch would have been most proud. His aim was to 'finish me'. In other words to teach me to be self sufficient and not become confused by the mountain of advice that people love to share in this industry despite not having a true understanding of what they are attempting to teach. I always listen to advice but I do not listen and apply blindly. I interpret what others tell me but always apply the principals Schuch-Tovini instilled in me. In simple terms the aim is to find and release our natural voice, that natural treasure which we all bury in a myriad of blockages for a myriad of reasons as we grow up. The true technique is to learn how to develop a keen awareness of what the body can do to sing NOT what you think (often falsely) you want it to do. It's less about doing and more about allowing, thinking and observing. Trust that the miracle of the body knows how to sing. The first step is to learn how to learn, then you can truly learn how to sing with great ease."
Brian has been assisting teachers, singers, actors, speech pathologists, people with disability and others who have sought his assistance since about 1991 and on the internet with free singing tips since 2000. Several thousands have emailed him for personal advice and visitors to his sight have come from over 180 countries. He now provides tips via Facebook.
© 2000 by Brian Gilbertson