The Right European YAP or Summer Program for You

It is not too late to make plans to attend one of the many Summer Programs in Europe. Back in December 2018, I wrote an article also addressing this topic (link to article).

Now time is running out and it’s time to decide which program is the best one for you. It all starts with the answer to the essential question: What is your goal? Or put another way: What do you want to learn this summer? Here are some tips for you to consider and help you make up your mind:

  • learn a language
  • learn a role
  • study with a particular teacher
  • learn more about a specific specialty field – French chanson or German Lied, Early Music, improve your technique, improve your acting skills, work on your dancing, etc.
  • Prepare for a competition
  • Prepare for an engagement
  • Network and have fun

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The CS Music website is an excellent place to start looking for programs and opportunities.

However, be sure to check out the actual program’s website and read the fine print carefully:

  1. What is being offered in terms of one-to-one work. This is by far the most effective way of learning as you know and should be an important part of the program’s offer. This one-to-one work can be coaching in technique, learning a new role, body work such as Alexander technique or the like, acting technique, dramaturgy and expression, putting together your personal professional portfolio and so forth.
  2. Additionally, what are the offers in group coaching. Diction and language lessons, for example, can be taught very effectively in small groups, since we can all learn from each other. The same applies to dramaturgy of a role – understanding what the composer/librettist meant and the historical and emotional context of the work – every participant looks at their own role and how it develops as the plot unfolds and its historical context, if there is one. No matter that a production of Otello you may be involved in takes place on the moon, you should still know about the Shakespeare version and how Verdi and his librettist Boito originally conceived it.
  3. Where: Another factor to consider is where the summer program is taking place: a big city, small town or rural surrounding? The more urban the environment, the more distractions there will be, the potentially less focused you will be – very simply because there will be so much to do and see and experience that there will be less time to focus on the program and the goal you have set for yourself. I say “potentially” because, of course, every person is different and who knows – you may be the exception to the rule of being able to focus especially well in an environment full of stimuli. Rule of thumb is, though, the more peaceful the surroundings, the more focused you can be on your own development.
  4. Faculty: Is there a summer program where your favorite or most admired singer will be teaching? And will he or she be giving personal attention to each participant? Be sure you ask about this ahead of time. Is your favorite available to you for an extra fee? This may be useful to you if you are preparing for a specific role or Fach.
  5. Costs: Some of these summer programs are very pricey. Yes, they also offer a lot of value, but be sure to add all the extras in to arrive at the final sum that you will need to cover. Refer to my December article (link above) for ways to find funding and remember to ask about full or partial scholarship opportunities.

Remember, there are so many different programs, with a bit of research you can find the one that is right for your own personal development right now and one that fits your budget. It doesn’t have to be a major program in a major city. You might be better off with a smaller program, especially if this is your first time in Europe and you want to leave some time to explore – and enjoy – some summer festivals and events.

Zenaida des Aubris

With over 30 years experience as an opera agent, personal management, opera production, fundraising, marketing and promotion, Zenaida Desaubris is based in Berlin, Germany. She is our European Jobs Consultant and as an opera career coach, helps young singers optimize their individual career strategies. Contact her at