After studying singing in Amsterdam, Philadelphia and New York, I was a full time professional travelling the world. From San Francisco to Brisbane, from Amsterdam to Tokyo, I worked on four continents amounting in 80 opera roles in world-class opera houses.
After a couple of years of singing, teaching and coaching came into my life. Initially being asked occasionally by young students if I could give them some private lessons, coaching got my attention and it gradually became a parallel ambition to my own singing. The seed was planted and as a result for the last 20 years I have been teaching private voice lessons. I was engaged several times to give masterclasses at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague and the Prince Claus Conservatory in Groningen. For five consecutive summers I was on the vocal faculty of the Peter the Great Festival in Groningen. In 2017 I was appointed teacher at the Prins Claus Conservatory in Groningen where I taught until 2019. In 2016 I was appointed at the Codarts Conservatory of Rotterdam where I am currently teaching as a senior teacher and active as coordinator of the Department of Classical Singing.
In the fall of 2014, I decided to combine all my teaching activities into my own vocal studio under the name “Studio Fritz”. Inspired by Margreet Honig (my old singing teacher, world class professor and nowadays teaching mentor) I have been trying to develop my own philosophy of teaching. This philosophy is based on all of the experiences that I gathered in 30 years of being active in the field: first as a student in Amsterdam with Margreet Honig, followed by my study years in Philadelphia and New York with Marlene Malas and Mikael Eliasen, and from then on with all the conductors, coaches and fellow singers that I encountered. I have come to the conclusion that good teaching (just as good singing) takes a copious amount of time and effort. It doesn’t happen overnight. It is an illusion to think that one's own experiences and performances on the stage can directly be transferred to another singer. Each student brings his/her own strengths and weaknesses. No voice is the same, no mind is the same, no person is the same. So the challenge is to create an open and sincere collaboration between the student and the teacher so that the student can find his/her own sound that meets the vocal ideals shared by the student and teacher together. This requires an active involvement of both the teacher and the student. The teacher listens, reflects, guides and gives information, but the student must discover what works for him/her by hard work, commitment, discipline and a great love for music. In this shared journey mutual trust, respect, openness and vulnerability play an important role.
When former soccer star Marco van Basten was appointed the new coach of the Dutch national soccer team, coach Co Adriaanse foreshadowed: "A good racehorse is not necessarily a good equestrian". If I may use this soccer analogy for our singing world: a good singer is not necessarily a good teacher! But I would like to nuance it by adding that having stage experience is a great bonus for a teacher. You know what is expected of you as a singer and as a professional, you know what it takes to deliver the job. I discovered this "professional pragmatism” especially in the time that I studied in America and it has greatly influenced my professional attitude. Craftsmanship and professionalism are key to a successful career. It goes without saying that having vocal talent is essential, without talent nothing goes. In the end the biggest challenge for a student is how to convert this vocal talent into artistic craftsmanship and committed professionalism, whereby a good and healthy technique plays an essential and crucial role. These are the basic conditions that can and should be worked on. Once established, the beauty and uniqueness of the voice, as well as the inspiration and creativity of a singer, will determine to what extent a career can develop.
In the last couple of years there have been several concerts and masterclasses of Studio Fritz (see Archive: Studio Fritz). The first Studio Fritz concert took place in Studio H67 in Amsterdam on November 23rd 2014. On May 30th 2021 the first T-Day (Tenor Day) took place during Studio Fritz VII. Margreet Honig and I worked very successfully with seven tenor students of mine. Due to the success of this format, there will be plenty more T-Days in the future!
Studio Fritz was named after two men who played an important role in my (vocal) life. Firstly, my father Frits Reijans. He was a very good amateur singer (bass-baritone) and performed often as soloist with male choirs in the southern part of the Netherlands. Countless times he sang Bach-Gounod’s Ave Maria at church weddings in our village. On Saturday afternoons around three o’clock he would leave our supermarket in his blue butcher’s apron and walk down the street towards the village church. Using the side entrance of the church he would climb the steps up to the organ and sing Ave Maria. When he was finished, he quietly left, walked back to the supermarket and took his place again behind the counter. The fact that the Maastreechter Staar (a famous amateur choir of the Netherlands) asked my father to join was proof that he was a very talented singer. But in the fifties the journey from our little village Koningsbosch to Maastricht took two hours to get there and two hours back. First by bike to Sittard and then by train to Maastricht. That was nearly impossible for an ordinary hobby. So as a result it would just be local fame for my father. My father was a very quiet and introverted man and he was perfectly content with singing in the church for newlyweds, just making people happy with beautiful music.
It was a whole different story for the other Fritz. The German tenor Fritz Wunderlich is considered one of the greatest tenors of all time. His radiant voice, musicality and technical perfection rightfully launched him into stardom. For me, he defines "tenor singing", the German-Italian bel canto, if you will. In his short career he recorded extensively and all of those recordings remain an unrelenting source of inspiration regarding tone, style, diction, phrasing and expression. What a tragedy that he died when he was only 36 years old. Every time I listen to him, I am overcome with an overwhelming feeling of admiration and emotion.