In addition to his performance career, Dr. Rieger is in demand as a voice teacher, opera director, and lyric diction coach. A fluent speaker of German and Italian and a language and diction specialist, Dr. Rieger is dedicated to helping young singers achieve the synthesis of musical line and linguistic inflection. He is chair of the solo voice area and opera director at Western Washington University, having previously taught at Westminster Choir College, Texas Tech University, and Nazareth College, and maintained a private studio in Germany for several years. His students regularly succeed in professional music careers including opera, concert, voice teaching, choral conducting, music education, and more. Many have gone on to pursue graduate study at major music conservatories in the US and abroad.
His frequent masterclass engagements have included appearances at the University of Memphis, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Missouri State University, Texas Tech University, Colorado State University, Buffalo State College (SUNY), and Carnegie Mellon University. He has presented research on the national level and regional level for both the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) and the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA).
Dr. Rieger is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music (DMA and BM with distinction) and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (MM).
A Brief Philosophy of the Teaching of Singing
It is my goal with every student I teach to achieve a free, energized and beautiful tone which is made with the least possible physical effort. Since the voice is basically a reflex instrument, our main means of reaching this goal is through proper body alignment, breath management and posture of the vocal tract (including the positioning of the lips, tongue, jaw, soft palate and walls of the throat), as well as control of pitch, vowel, consonant and vocal intensity.
Each student is an individual and should be treated as such. The teacher’s style must be flexible in order to help that particular student learn in the most effective way possible. In addition, since each human voice is different it should maintain its unique timbre as it gains technical proficiency. The student should therefore never attempt to assume or imitate the sound of the teacher or any other singer.
In order to attain true vocal freedom, the student must demonstrate a complete lack of mannerism of the face and body. These negative traits will impede proper function of the larynx and also hinder the ability to express what is being sung.
It is necessary for the teacher to encourage and develop excellent use of lyric diction in all languages in which the student sings. This is not only essential to the expression of text and a proper legato line, but it is my belief that it is also vital to optimal vocal technique.
As the eastern saying goes, “The teacher and the taught together create the teaching.” The teacher and the student must work together to achieve the best possible results. It is the teacher’s duty to inspire the student to take responsibility for his or her voice. Progress will only be possible if the student puts into daily practice what has been learned in the lesson.
In this age of voice science it is necessary for the teacher of singing to remain current on research being performed in our field. This information can sometimes be very useful in the pursuit of perfection in vocal technique. However, it is extremely important to remember the true reason for our research. It is through a free and properly functioning instrument alone that we are able to fully express ourselves artistically in the music we sing.