I am Gabriela Labanda

And this is the road I traveled

Singer, singing pedagogue, singing voice rehabilitator and coach for musicians.

home gabriela

My beginnings

As the daughter of parents who love music, especially singing, it was clear that I could fall in love with the singing voice. Since I was a child I participated in choirs and studied piano at the Institute of Music of the University of my hometown, Tucumán, Argentina.

At the age of 15 I joined the University Choir of the University of Tucumán. Fascinated by the vocal education provided by its director, Andrés Aciar, and the eight vocal coaches, I knew then that I wanted more of that in my life. That’s how I started taking lyric singing lessons with soprano Laura Varela.

Unsure if I had the necessary skills to become a professional singer, I decided to study architecture, my second passion.

From Buenos Aires to Germany

After a few years of approaching, with pure discipline, Architecture and Singing, I put myself to the test. I competed for scholarships for further education in Buenos Aires. Winning two scholarships at the same time gave me the idea that I could dedicate myself to professional singing, and maybe even… maybe… make a living from singing.

I gave up architecture and moved to Buenos Aires. There I received scholarships from the Fundación Antorchas and the Fundación Leonor Hirsch, which allowed me, for three years, to perfect myself as a singer of opera, oratorio and chamber music.

After completing these studies, I was hired to be part of the Soloist Ensemble of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, in Düsseldorf, Germany.

In 1999 I crossed the Atlantic thinking that in two years I would be back singing at “home”. However, that in my new neighborhood I found a world of colleagues, singing teachers, doctors and scientists passionate about the same things I was. All of them, scholars of the singing voice, inspired me to continue learning to this day. Two years of overseas experience turned into 5, 10 and 20.

Theatermuseum Düsseldorf / Photo: Eduard Straub

During the years I worked at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, I started to give some sporadic singing lessons. While she was aware that she had a lot to learn as a teacher, she enjoyed doing it very much. And again, I wanted more of that in my life.

Theatermuseum Düsseldorf / Photo: Eduard Straub

My quest to learn to teach

With the help of courses and training, which are abundant in these latitudes, I was able to developing more skills and changing the way I teach. My Gesangsatelier (Singing Atelier) in Düsseldorf grew with my experience. Teaching connected me with my questions, with my doubts and with the researcher in me. And that fascinated me.

My quest to clarify the technical controversies among singing teachers led me to investigate the factors that make up musical physiology, high technical, vocal and artistic performance and their relationship to a personal and professional life in flow.

Even then I knew that flow is not a state that we can force, but I had the intuition that we can favor it, stimulating it from different vocal functions and areas of our professional and personal life. But I had a few years of discovery left.

Demystifying and resignifying

During my singing studies in Buenos Aires, in 1996, I had learned about Eugene Rabine’s Funktionale Stimmpädagogik (Functional Voice Education), where I learned the basics of Voice Physiology, which had allowed me to demystify and resignify some ideas such as “support”.

While this had been very enriching for me and had allowed me to review my own vocal technique from a physiological point of view, he did not find there the secrets to help students acquire the high technical demands of a career in opera singing. I knew there was more to explore.

Shortly after arriving in Düsseldorf in 1999, I met Cornelius Reid, a New York singing teacher and researcher of bel canto techniques. I attended his courses, thus becoming qualified in his “Functional Voice Training“.

While both Rabine and Reid based their practices on vocal physiology, Cornelius Reid’s practical vocal work was, as I understand it, exactly focused on the high demands and specific functions needed by singers.

His practices contemplated the paradoxical fact that any vocal technique is a conscious attempt to control a muscular system that, enervated by the autonomic nervous system, moves involuntarily. Magic! As far as vocal technique was concerned, I had managed to answer so many questions… It all made sense. Even the disagreements between us singing teachers were understandable.

Towards vocal and artistic freedom

But many questions still haunted my mind:

What does the consolidation of vocal technique and artistic identity depend on? What transformation processes occur in the learner to get there? What skills should the student bring and what skills should I bring to do a responsible and effective job? Is stage experience enough?

So I decided to go into the psycho-pedagogical and neurosciences fields. In 2010 I obtained the certificate of Classical Singing Pedagogue at the BDG, Association of German Singing Teachers.

In the years that followed, I dealt with the person behind that voice and the person behind the teacher. I went on to study psychology and in 2014 completed certifications in Carl Rogers’ Humanistic Psychology and Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) at the IAPP (Institute for Applied Psychology and Psychosomatics) in Düsseldorf.

My greatest discovery was the importance of the role of the person behind the voice and behind the teacher. Until that moment, the singer and his voice were for me almost dissociated aspects of the person. Or intuitively associated. I had even believed that the personal must be strictly separated from the professional. And that the management of emotions, expectations, time, stress, are things of the student.

Theatermuseum Düsseldorf / Photo: Eduard Straub

I don’t think teachers are psychologists, far from it. But I know that in the process of learning and transformation there are blockages (bodily, psychic) and that we need to have the tools to unravel information, observe behaviors and offer alternative paths to recover the fluidity of this process, even in ourselves, the teachers.

I discovered that teaching singing lessons is learning from the complexity of each case. And that this can only be achieved by knowing my disciple, his voice and the place I have in his path.

Singer in crisis

But they often arrived at my atelier singers in vocal crisis, some required clinical supervision, others did not. Cases ranged from vocal fatigue, to reflux and hormonal changes, to vocal cord nodules. Determined to learn more about it, I enrolled at the Hochschule der Künste Bern (Bern Faculty of Arts) in Switzerland to study this subject in depth as a graduate student. In 2015 I obtained the Certificate of Advanced Studies in Singer’s Voice Rehabilitation. Since then this area became part of my daily work.

Doubt aloud

During this training in Switzerland, in addition to learning about vocal disorders and vocal therapies for singers, I discovered a very inspiring practice: collegial intervision or exchange. This prompted me to form and participate in exchange groups with colleagues, with whom we organized meetings. In them, we reflect and exchange on issues and cases that occupy or concern us, we doubt aloud, we ask questions and seek answers.

Very enriching!

In order to keep abreast of developments in my field, I have been a member of the BDG (German Association of Singing Teachers) and the DGfMM (German Association of Physiology and Medicine for Musicians) for many years. Both inspire me with their scientific articles in their specialized journals, their courses and their annual congresses.

While vocal functions are similar in all singers, there are as many ways of handling the voice as there are singers in the world. Infinite. So infinite are also my desires to discover them and to help singers and singing teachers to build the foundations on which vocal and artistic learning and transformation is successfully carried out.At present, and continuing in my never-ending search, I am studying Laurence Heller’s Neuroaffective Relational Model NARM and its application in Coaching Musicians.

sing course

If you teach an instrument or singing...

make your classes a place of vocal and artistic transformation for your students, intertwining the art and science of teaching.

Gabriela services

If you suffer from disorders...

in your singing voice, regenerate your vocal function and develop vocal and mental resources for your high artistic performance on stage.