|Paige Gherardi interviews music student Takahiro Shimara|
A1. 8 years.
Q2. Who are your role models in the profession?
A2. One of my role models is tenor Jose Carreras.
Q3. What are your goals as a musician?
A3. I would like to become a lyrical opera singer, but it is very difficult because there is less demand in Japan for this type of work.
Q4. Why did you decide to participate in a music program abroad?
A4. I studied Italian lyrical opera and then did a Masters concentrating on the lead singer in German operas. I have also studied French music. My voice in Japan was very small, and I knew that I could do something to make it bigger. So I decided to come to Italy. I also wanted to see the cultural differences between Italy and Japan.
Q5. Which courses are you taking at ISTITUTO EUROPEO?A5. Vocal technique, diction, and Italian.
Q6. How is the teaching staff helping you reach your goals?A6. My vocal technique teacher, Monica, always tells me not to worry because when I sing. I am always worried if the words and my pronunciation are correct. One day she said to stop thinking so much about it and that I need to sing, and she needs to think. She told me to be free with my singing. Now I am changing my thoughts because I was used to thinking too much about every sound that came out of my mouth.
My teachers are also helping me a lot with diction. Italian pronunciation is very difficult for me and other Japanese students because you need to use a rolling “r” that I am not used to. I also spend a lot of time going over opened and closed vowels. This is a big problem for me because I tend to raise my voice when I pronounce certain vowels. For example, in Japan we always use a higher intonation when we say the equivalent of the Italian vowel “i”.
Q7. What are the benefits of studying music in Italy?A7. Japan and Italy have very different styles of singing technique. In Japan I was always taught to use my throat to project my voice forward, while in Italy I have been taught to relax my throat and let the sound come more easily. I am learning a technique that is completely contrary to what I learned in Japan. Here I tape all my lessons and write a lot to understand the vocal technique that Monica and Valeria teach me. Then I read it over and over again because I cannot always be singing. I spend a lot of time reflecting on what I can do better and how I can better utilize my voice and body while singing.
Q8. What do you expect to take away from this music program?A8. I expect to take the Italian style of singing and continue to develop my voice.
Q9: How has taking classes at ISTITUTO EUROPEO helped you grow as a musician?A9: Taking classes here has helped me so much from when I first started. I am more confident in my singing and I am starting to see what voice can do.
Takahiro Shimada is from Ehime, Japan and is in his 5th month of a 7 month program at ISTITUTO EUROPEO.