Michelle Greenberg, professional singer-pianist:
“As a participant in last night’s “SongShop” performance at Cyrano’s, I want to express my appreciation to Claudia Hommel for a wonderful class and a terrific performance opportunity. We had the most generous and engaged audience, and it was so much fun to dine with the other class members as we witnessed one another’s achievements and passion for performing. Claudia is an experienced and giving teacher. Her approach is totally consistent with that of the masters who teach at the famed Perry-Mansfield Song Interpretation Workshop (with Andrea Marcovicci) in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, which I attended last summer. In short, I think Claudia’s class is a great opportunity—right in our own backyard.”
After brushing up at SongShop her one-woman concert, voice teacher Mary Ann Beatty wrote:
“I learned so much from my brief time with you and your students—my ‘stories’ would not have been as ‘honest’ and ‘personal’ had I not spent those 3 sessions with you. THANK YOU-THANK YOU-THANK YOU!!!! All the best to you and all your students. They are so lucky to have the opportunity to observe and learn from such an amazing performer and person.”
While serving as French Consul in Chicago, Jean-Baptiste Main de Boissière found time to pursue his passion for singing French art songs by attending several sessions:
“Claudia has an amazing ability to act and sing at the same time—and to guide others in doing so. She has a deep understanding of how to combine words and music with charm and ease, which is more difficult that you might think, especially in classical music. On the top of this, Claudia is a wonderful person. For her, music, friendship and beauty are a way of life, a philosophy, and she excels at sharing these great values…”
Our own “Dr. Ruth”, clinical social worker Ruth Fuerst burst on the scene after discovering SongShop:
“Thanks to all of you for co-creating what was really an unbelievably special nite!! Its amazing how great it turned out. Everyone was at their best and lots of people commented to me how lucky we are ( like LeeZee said) to be a part of such a group. Apparently our connections with each other, and our mutual support and respect came through even for people just watching the show. Every time we perform I hear that from audience members. I do indeed feel very lucky to have found you all.
“I want to make special note of Claudia and her role in facilitating this whole thing…from SongShop to our performances. I am VERY aware of how much work it takes to pull all this together and can’t express sufficiently how grateful I (and I am sure all the rest of the group) am. Your gift for bringing us together, for creating what is such a safe place for self disclosure and exploration, for coaching us so honestly and with such warmth as well as your talent for bringing out the best in all of us is beyond words! I don’t know the “back stories” for everyone in SongShop but I say that for myself at least this is already life changing.”
Writing to the SongShop group a month before her concert début, Arlene Armstrong: “I just wanted to say thanks for what you did for me last night. You allowed me to open up & acknowledge what I was feeling. Even I didn’t know how much pressure I was putting on myself. … So, keep on challenging me, you don’t have to walk on eggshells around me. I can take it (no, really I can). I’m only allowed one meltdown a year; that takes a lot out of a girl. I have to concentrate on important things, like, what am I wearing for the show.”
Carol Weston, professional singer and SongShop participant since 1999: “The SongShop has been a great place to try new material and look at songs in a new way. Claudia is very skilled in asking the right questions of the participants to help them in really understanding and owning a song. I have also enjoyed the camaraderie of the other students in the class and the support we are able to give each other. Claudia also creates a safe environment which gives us freedom to explore and grow with a song and presentation. She has also created opportunities for us to perform in various venues and continue to gain performing experience.”
Kathleen Lahiff, a piano teacher returning to song:
“After years of voice lessons, I plunged in and joined the class. The experience has been wonderful—-not easy, but wonderful. Over time, my nerves quieted down and I learned a great deal about making a song personal, how to have a physical presence on the stage, the importance of facial expression and becoming free and relaxed enough to use gestures when appropriate. Claudia offers honest criticism and valuable techniques for performance. It was a thrill for me to take these skills and use them in 3 public performances over the course of a year. I highly recommend this class for anyone who wants the opportunity to work on any aspect of vocal performance in the presence of a supportive group of like-minded souls.”
Classical singer Beverly Opelka:
“I had attended Claudia Hommel’s Valentine Cabaret Show in my hometown of Palos Park, IL where she referred to a “SongShop” class that she was teaching at DePaul University. I was so impressed at this show with her abilities, both musically and artistically, I was convinced, as a singer, that I could gain something from attending.
Having had strict vocal guidelines with classical teachers, Claudia was totally different in approach and style … I sensed very early on that I now would be getting the best of both worlds. Claudia opened me to a new realm of performance and lyrical interpretation. She helped me reach out into jazz literature in a bold, fresh approach. She worked on my posture, simplified my movements, and subscribed to expanded gestures where appropriate. A comprehensive understanding of the lyrics was essential. We were taught to observe: “What’s happening in the song?” “Are you portraying yourself?” “Are you singing to another?” Etc.
Her ability to communicate, her choice of words, and her respectful, compassionate way of dealing with our shortcomings are certainly her teaching strengths. Furthermore, she personally arranged for our opportunities to perform in public and considered that a crucial yardstick for measuring progress. In less than 9 months, I never felt better about performance!
Any serious singer would benefit from a course of study with Claudia Hommel.”
Jamie Brady, jazz singer
“SongShop with Claudia Hommel is a great way to learn how to connect the lyric with the song. Claudia helps you look into the meaning of the lyric and find your authentic voice…what the song means for you, and how to help share that song with the audience. Her sincerity to this art form is palpable. Claudia creates a supportive environment which allows each of the singers to feel safe in taking risks. I highly recommend this class for singers of all levels!”