I work with singers, pianists, and other instrumentalists bridging technical knowledge
across varied disciplines with in-depth musical interpretation to bring about artistically convincing
and informed renditions of the classical works of the repertory.
Piano Studies & Coaching
Daniel Daroca is an artist who expresses himself as a pianist, writer, and composer. His musical credits include the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, and solo recitals in Taiwan, Austria, Spain, Puerto Rico, and the United States. A graduate of the University of Miami, he pursued doctoral studies at the Manhattan School of Music and later at the Folkwang Universität der Künste in Essen, and the Konservatorium Wien Privat Universität. Mr. Daroca is a recipient of the Alban Berg Stiftung fellowship, of a fellowship of the Viennese Musical Institutions of Higher Learning, and a Rotary Foundation scholarship for studies in Vienna.
His plays and operas embrace the inherent contradictions and incongruencies of the human condition. Sometimes those manifest in humor, or through compelling characters whose stories and conflicts inspire or trouble us. His opera The Not So Little Prince premiered in Miami in 2019. Among his plays, A Night in Paris with Chopin and Malibran, and The Valkyrie of the Piano, deserve to be mentioned. The opera Frau Haydn in Trouble, with libretto and music by Daroca, premiered this year in Miami.
Mr. Daroca is the Music and Education Director of The Opera Atelier.
I have enjoyed wearing many hats: pianist, vocal coach, agent, life coach, and teacher. I believe in improving oneself, in striving for excellence. Guiding singers to find their ideal repertory, to develop musical eloquence, to believe in themselves, and to find their own voices gives me great pleasure. Starting from piano music, I found my way to vocal music and opera. In my work with singers, I often refer to harmony, counterpoint and form, essential aspects as they illuminate musical phrasing and eloquence. Expression is everything: take Callas. I seek to inspire beyond the trite; and beyond the mere correcting of mistakes, I work on developing genuinely artistic delivery. Art makes life more meaningful, and, in a way, it redeems us. As a manager, helping singers to get to the stage, and assisting them to develop their careers has been a unique privilege; being there and enjoying their live performances, a fulfilling experience that I treasure. Through my work with singers and instrumentalists, I have come to realize that the performer's difficulties often lie beyond artistic factors and have to do with factors of human development and psychological and emotional aspects. As musicians, we develop the art of listening. As teachers, we learn to listen to the whole being. The Opera Atelier is the optimal vehicle to share and develop my musical, pedagogical and psychological insights, because we concentrate on developing the singularity of each artist in a comprehensive, holistic way, within the humanistic tradition.
A short article about my approach to musical coaching.
Most musical coaching- and most music teaching, for that matter- falls within what Freire called the “banking education” model (Freire, 1968). In a typical session, the expert (the well of knowledge) instructs the artist or student, otherwise known as the client (the empty vessel) on how a particular piece should be performed and on how to approximate the “ideal” rendition.
The arrangement is, by its very nature, dis-empowering, since generally no transmission of meaningful, applicable knowledge takes place that would prepare the client to understand, process and perform different works independently. Thus, when tackling a new work, the client is once again back to square one. The result: dependence and insecurity.
In contrast, the critical pedagogy model- which actively promotes independence- proposes a radically different approach. Critical pedagogues do not pretend to have all the answers. They pose questions that challenge the students. They guide students to understand principles and processes and to take ownership of their learning. Ira Shor defines critical pedagogy as: “Habits of thought, reading, writing, and speaking which go beneath surface meaning, first impressions, dominant myths, official pronouncements, traditional clichés, received wisdom, and mere opinions, to understand the deep meaning, root causes, social context, ideology, and personal consequences of any action, event, object, process organization, experience, text, subject matter, policy, mass media, or discourse.” (Shor, 1992)
When this approach is applied to music making and learning, the teacher and learner engage together in meaningful dialogue on the repertory and on interpretation. For example, they may analyze different musical styles, reflect on and recognize the nature of different affects, analyze musical form, study the expressive qualities and the functions of chords and dissonances, and how to accentuate them in performance, as well as principles of phrasing, and how to apply them to different works. Both teacher and learner explore connections across the musical material and explore the whys and how’s, i.e., the basis for the different decisions to be made in the interpretation of a musical work.
Adorno emphasized accurate analysis as the basis of true interpretation. Quantz had already hinted at it in his Versuch when he wrote: “if all teachers of music… knew how to impart proper notions of artful music to their pupils; if they had their pupils play pieces that are skillfully worked out soon enough and explained their contents to them… (Quantz, 1752)
However, most “coaching”- even to this day- only touches the surface and stays at the level Shor describes as “traditional cliches, received wisdom and mere opinions”. Such style of “coaching” belongs to the culture of “tips” and contributes nothing other than a veneer.
But as we well know, sprinkling a few details- however appropriate- here and there, will not turn anyone into a great artist, just as adding a coat of paint will not turn an ordinary building into a new Parthenon.