Chosen as Teacher of the Week February 27th, 2012! Profiled on Takelessons.com Facebook page, and chosen from all the teachers of Takelessons across the country.
I love teaching, and I have learned so much from my students.
I have students of all kinds and ages, and teaching at home has brought so much richness to my life. I finished my Masters' degree in Voice Performance and Pedagogy- the study of teaching- from Westminster Choir College in Princeton. I've been teaching in Philadelphia for more than 7 years, at the University of the Arts and West Chester University.
We work together to make lessons fun, productive, and make practicing easy. I make lots of practice recordings, warmup mp3's, music theory exercises and karaoke tracks, and I take notes during the lesson that I email to you. I am open to all styles of music and am currently teaching pop, R&B, rock, classical and folk styles.
Students and Experience
Since October 2011, I've been working through TakeLessons, and have broadened my teaching skills through the wider variety of students I've encountered: adults and children, gospel singers, singers under contract with managers, yoga teachers, clergy, young men with changing voices.
I have also taught many bilingual students, including English as Second Language and more recent immigrants. So far I've taught speakers of: Albanian, Creole, Greek, Khmer, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish and Tagalog speakers. Because of my classical background, I've sung in French, German, Russian, Italian, Latin and Spanish, and so I understand how singing in different languages changes your sound, and what to do to make you sound more authentic.
Currently, I am working on a career as an opera singer. I am studying privately every week with Randall Scarlata and work with pianists in the area on a routine basis. I may have a Masters degree, but it is common to study privately as your voice matures. So I'm still a student too. I took private acting lessons that helped me sing my music with emotional honesty, and helped me look good on stage.
My Musical Life
Auditions and more auditions! The singer's life is sometimes as much singing auditions as performing or rehearsing.
Working on putting a recital together of Viennese music for the spring!
This fall I am working on my German language skills, making promotional recordings, and all those auditions.
I picked up teaching at West Chester University to fill in for another teacher on leave, and have loved teaching the theatre students.
I spent the summer in San Francisco and had a great time singing fully staged operas of Mozart, Offenbach and Tchaikovsky!
I have been singing at the First Presbyterian Church on 21st and Walnut here in Philly and also at Keneseth Israel Reform Temple in Elkins Park since the autumn of 2012. Being a professional choir member is a big part of a classical singer's work as they gain stage experience and grow into a full solo voice.
I sang (and blogged for TakeLessons) from the Alpenkammermusik program in Liesing, Austria. This is a chamber music and art song (solo song with piano) training and performance session for 12 days. I worked with with my teacher, Randall Scarlata, as well as Sam Armstrong, a pianist and coach from London. My major piece is a work by Maurice Ravel with Cello, Piano and Flute, as well as some voice trios with piano by Bernstein, and duets by Mendelssohn and Schumann. Busy, busy. I was the cover role (understudy) of the Sandman in Hansel and Gretel at Delaware Valley Opera here in Philadelphia. The production is in English, not German, so kids can enjoy more easily. I sang as a chorus member for Amahl and the Night Visitors back in December and in their Broadway Review showcase in March, so they've been wonderful to me this year.
In February I sang the role of Mrs. Nolan in Gian Carlo Menotti's "The Medium" an American opera that will play in Princeton, NJ from February 17th-25th.
That summer I had two exciting professional engagements: I sang in the chorus of The Rake's Progress (Stravinsky) for the Princeton Festival and sang the role of Madame Larina in Eugene Onegin for Delaware Valley Opera Company in Narrowburg, NY. To have a full role with a professional company before my degree came in the mail is pretty wonderful, and makes me feel good about this challenging career choice.
I received my Masters' degree in May 2011.
While in school from 2009-2011, I sang with orchestra the mezzo-soprano roles in scenes from La Cenerentola, Rigoletto, and Carmen, and did a role study of Dorabella in Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte."
*** Lesson Details ***
My lessons are student focused. I ask a lot of questions "How does that feel? Did you feel a difference that time? What's one word that helps you focus on breathing?" You shouldn't feel like you are teaching yourself, but that I am working to make you an observant singer who can work well outside of lessons.
I don't expect you to read music right away, so I do recordings of your warmups and send them by email in an mp3. I do encourage my students to learn to read and play a little piano, and I have materials to help you that I supply free of charge.
I teach whatever style of music the students want to focus on, even though I'm primarily a classical musician.
Let me explain:
A large part of my education was learning how to apply basic principles of singing- breath control, vowel shape, clear pronunciation- to a wide variety of musical styles. The goal is not to sound like an opera singer singing jazz- but to sound like a jazz singer, or a pop singer, or an R&B singer singing WELL in the chosen style. I listen to a wide variety of music and have learned what about the singer makes them sound good or right vocally- belting? a floated high note a la Patti LaBelle? Sarah Vaughn's rich low voice? As we develop style in the lessons, I'm also helping you find your own sound. It's important to sound like your best self and not a copy of anyone else, no matter the style.
Because my recent work has been with middle school through young adults, I think I am best at teaching students age 10 and up. I've found recently that I really like teaching middle schoolers. I have had experience with the changing male and female voices, so I'm comfortable with that particular age of singer.
*** Studio Equipment ***
I have a private studio with a keyboard, central air conditioning, and high ceilings with big windows for lots of light. I have several volumes of music books as well as jazz anthologies. There is plenty of room in the studio for family or friends to wait during the lesson, or if the student prefers, family are welcome in my living room or dining room. There is free street parking in the neighborhood and is easily accessible from I-76 and I-676.
*** Specialties ***
Through my masters' degree studies, I learned how to nuture a voice through any style of music. I focus especially on release of tension and a healthy voice. My previous teaching included a lot of pop and Broadway. I help my students by getting them ready for what is expected of a singer to nail the audition or club gig. As a opera singer myself, I am competent in most classical performance practices, Baroque through Contemporary.