Teaching

Teaching Philosophy

I teach healthy vocal technique grounded in a functional approach, through understanding of anatomy and physiology along with active listening, imagery, and movement exercises. I approach each student as an individual, and craft an individual approach for that voice. No two voices are alike: each voice is singular, so my approach for each voice is unique. However, I have two firm rules for all students that apply without fail during every lesson, and everything in my teaching methodology stems from these precepts:

Photo by Lexi Adams

Photo by Lexi Adams

1.      It should never hurt to sing.
Singing should be a natural activity, devoid of pain, discomfort, or unnecessary tension.

2.      Leave your critic at the door.
Do not judge yourself. Doubt and self-deprecation are the enemies of vocal and musical freedom. Stay open to experimentation. Analyzing yourself with compassion is far more effective than berating yourself with criticism. My studio is a positive, encouraging, and safe space, and an essential aspect of creating that safe space is supporting students in treating themselves with kindness.

Technique & Mechanics: I work with students of all abilities and levels of experience, from professional singers through absolute beginners, from high school students through adults. Areas of technical focus include register balance through teaching mixed voice: knitting registers together, strengthening all registers from lowest to highest, with a specially tuned ear to progressing smoothly through an unbroken middle range. While the end goal is to sing repertoire, much of each lesson is devoted to technical exercises to build strength, agility, flexibility, and control. All technical exercises have a focus and clearly stated goal, and are not employed “just to sing warm-ups.” I approach technique through a functional system which supports all styles of music, from traditional bel canto classical through all styles of contemporary commercial music, including but not limited to rock, musical theater, blues, country, bluegrass, folk, etc.

Ear Training & Theory: All lessons incorporate melodic ear training (intervals), and students with more experience also delve into harmonic ear training. Not all of my students read music, but I believe it is highly advantageous to do so, and to that end, lessons contain some written as well as aural music theory.  I am also a pianist, and we may incorporate keyboard skills into the lesson if a student has interest in those areas (songwriting, arranging, voicings, etc). I also coach other singer/instrumentalists (guitar, violin, etc), and while I do not play those instruments myself, I can offer assistance that will improve the student’s singing while they play.

Repertoire is chosen together with each student. Life is too short to sing songs you don’t like.

Aesthetics, Genre, & Personal Style: I sing in many styles including classical, jazz, blues, country, and rock. We all have personal aesthetics, but I endeavor to separate mine from the business of teaching and building technique. I do not teach students to sound like me. I teach students to sound like themselves. I share opinions about which sounds I like and those I do not (and why), but my primary concern is that of a healthy vocal technique in a stylistically appropriate manner. (For example: I do not generally choose to listen to death metal for my own musical enjoyment, but I have guided students through ways to sing it without injuring their voices... and applying a classical bel canto tone to death metal would be stylistically inappropriate.) To that end, with all students I employ numerous technical exercises that are designed NOT to sound good, but instead to isolate and strengthen (in a healthful manner) a particular tone or timbre that may be utilized. Keeping an open mind includes keeping open ears.

Performance is an essential part of singing, and to that end I encourage students to perform in front of an audience as much as possible, and create opportunities for students to do so, whether they be public recitals or closed studio classes (where students sing for each other). If a student has issues with performance anxiety or stage fright, I nurture them in taking small steps towards empowering them to conquer those fears, and I guide more advanced students through professional performances, shows, auditions, and competitions.

Watch videos of my students singing