Welcome to another episode from our Brno Expats Have Talent series. Brno is full of talented people, and some of them are not from the CR – we’re introducing one talented expat at a time!
Géraldine, a lovely Swiss girl, shares her musical story in Brno with us.
Géraldine Cécile Schnyder from Switzerland – musician, vocalist, teacher, composer
How long have you been involved with singing?
Almost since I can walk, I have been sitting behind the keyboard. Finally, being allowed to take piano lessons, the classes were put to use immediately by my sister who needed someone to accompany her while singing. Eventually also wanting to sing, my sister trained me well and we entertained our mother almost every other night.
I would then often gift my own compositions to people on special occasions. I only started performing on bigger stages slowly during my music studies in Bern.
Is it your main source of income, or a hobby?
Performing is approximately a third of my income. Another big part of my time I enjoy sharing my passion and knowledge with other people in the “Kohútek” music school and at the JAMU Academy of Arts . Last but not least I teach a folklore choir, another choir with my dear partner and every now and then smaller “one-time-courses” like training people’s speaking voice.
How do you find living in Brno as an expat and a singer?
I fell in love with Brno the first moment I arrived here, especially because I enjoyed a very warm welcome from the dance community “Swing Wings”. Despite it being sometimes challenging to manage authorities (but where in the world is that not challenging – sometimes), the expat community is alive! I see the effort being put into helping expats and (in my case) how much locals also enjoy and embrace the many talents of their expats.
Is it easy to practise singing here, did you face any obstacles?
Making music for people in Brno is a blessing. There are so many places that want live music and offer many different genres to smaller scenes. A general problem that many musicians know, regardless if expat or local though, is getting fair pay for their performances. But with engagement and patience, one eventually works it out.
How different is the audience in the CR compared to your home country?
I believe Switzerland and the Czech Republic don’t differ that much when it comes to the music business. I’d say that all the people who come to listen to a concert are there for the same reason – to enjoy it. Perhaps the only difference is that in the Czech Republic I felt a strong interest in jazz from young to old, especially also in smaller towns.
Where do you find inspiration?
Oftentimes I find inspiration for what I am doing in my everyday thoughts and emotions. Me feeling home in Brno while I am leaving one home behind, and the emotions that come with it, are enough to write a book about.
Listen to Geraldine: Black Coffee Balad
Do you cooperate with other expats or local Czechs in your activity?
I am especially grateful for my partner Jan Čarek who introduced me so kindly to his bubble of musician friends who studied or teach at JAMU, and to “Swing Wings” that opened many doors for me. Without the cooperation of local and expat friends and musicians I would not be the person I am now – hence doing the art I’m doing now.
Is there any other area that you’d like to explore?
The curiosity is infinite, the time is limited. These times I am so busy, I just need to get things done first. Eventually, I need to take more time to actually get an album done.
Where can expats find you in Brno nowadays?
Despite standing in the spotlight every now and then, I am a creature of the shadows. I am often to be found around the premises of Music Lab, or on (swing and blues) dance festivals. Theoretically one could find me on my webpage geraldinececile.com – but for now it’s under construction.
What did you choose for your live input of this article and why?
I decided to take two YouTube Links that show me in action. Also, I just like when things are nicely done – that’s why ☺ One of them is the video that has been shot for JMK about a year ago. I guess, I chose that one so that people get a sense of what kind of a person I am and that shows all the things I am doing if the day is long.
The second one is a live performance of (at least) one part how I sound. I still am a musician of many faces – which sometimes is more of a curse than a blessing.
Photos courtesy of Geraldine.