- Teaches students:
- Ages 5+
- Teaching since:
- August 2008
WHAT TO EXPECT
When meeting with a student for the first time we always discuss his or her needs or goals. After that, we get into the foundation of building technique, starting with posture. Next, the student is assigned breathing exercises to practice. These exercises are structured to energize the body and manage the breath. Every single student learns about appoggio. This is the term used for the process of suspending exhalation while keeping the torso in the position of inhalation by using the transverse abdominis and obliques. Students also learn that the action of the diaphragm is involuntary, therefore the exercises in which we engage are in place to have command over physical activity that we can control.
A TYPICAL VOICE LESSON
After posture and breathing are addressed the students begin to learn how to produce tone, which encompasses the vocal onset and the closure of the vocal folds. Students realize that proper breath management and producing tone go hand in hand. The ideal that the student and I work towards is a balance between superfluous air flow and and pressed pressure. This concept leads to a clean onset in which the edges of the vocal folds cleanly come together and stay closed during singing.
Students also learn how to negotiate and coordinate the vocal registers. This means that every student who walks into my studio learns where and what the larynx is. It is my job to be a second set of ears to help the student optimize his or her tone quality by maximizing vocal resonance. This concept may be different across genres, however every student learns how to begin coordinating the vocal process.
HOW I TEACH
My aim as a teacher of voice is to be flexible and innovative, and provide students with a clear and honest assessment. I strive to explain to each singer exactly how to complete a task, whether maintaining the position of inhalation or correcting posture. In lessons, I refrain from being demonstrative so that the student can find his or her own unique sound without attempting to copy my sound. I use this method so that the student learns how to be her own teacher. This way, the student will be able to identify and correct her own vocal problems. When I am not present, the student will have confidence in her skills and can make educated corrections in practice, rehearsals, and in performances.
Throughout the course of lessons, it is my job to identify the most effective resonating space for the student and give her the skills to maintain that space. It is through the combination of effective breath management using appoggio and flow-phonation that the student becomes most efficient. Finding the most efficient technique for the student involves discovering the proper laryngeal position for the student’s voice type and by practicing continuity through all of the registers.
As all of the aspects of technique are being built in the studio, it is my job to ensure that I am building a musician. This means that I go over how the student needs to learn a piece and how to perform a piece. Often times with young students, they do not have the musical skills to teach themselves the pieces assigned. Sometimes the voice teacher’s job is to “plunk out the notes.” I highly encourage my students to take piano lessons and to use technology resources to aid them in building musicianship so they feel confident reading music. This process takes time, but it is the first step in building a competent performer.
I always cater to the students tastes while still meeting requirements, if any. I believe that this fosters joy and excitement in music. My goal as a voice teacher not only involves building a good singer, but creating a performer. I make sure that I not only find performing opportunities for my students, but also I create them. Every semester I hold a studio recital for my students to perform their repertoire in front of an audience. In the Fall of 2015 I founded a local opera company in order to bring classical music to the community. My students made up the chorus of Handel’s Messiah that we performed that December. In addition, I have invited my students to participate in the church choir I direct every week. I believe that learning how to sing must take place in the studio, but the most important thing that I can do as a teacher is to make sure that the student knows how to transfer the skills learned in the classroom to real-world performing experiences.
I believe in a holistic approach to teaching, which involves connection to the text and acting. Though I cover many of these aspects in the studio, it is extremely beneficial for students to go outside of the studio and engage in physical courses such as yoga, Alexander technique, acting and dance. I personally engage in these activities to relate to my students and to be able to explain how we need to engage the body in singing. I also encourage my students to have coachings with other professionals to gain more insight into their repertoire.
Not every student who comes to my studio wants to sing opera. Many students want to sing in choir, in church, or just for fun. Overall, I always come from a place of acceptance and non judgement. Every voice is unique and I strive to help my students not only reach their goals, but surpass them.
San Francisco Bay Area native, Dr. Melissa McCann has been teaching voice and piano since 2010. Not only an avid teacher, Dr. McCann has performed in music festivals all over the world including The American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, Accademia Europa dell’Opera in Lucca, Italy, Angel Vocal Art in Los Angeles, CA, Russian Opera Workshop in Philadelphia, PA, and Highlands Opera Studio in Haliburton, Ontario. Melissa has also performed with companies including Opera San Jose, The Napa Valley Music Association, The San Francisco Youth Chamber Orchestra, Opera on the Spot, and The Solano Chamber Society.
Melissa earned her Doctorate of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance, Pedagogy, and Literature from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA with Kevin McMillan. During her time in Harrisonburg, Melissa founded Harrisonburg Opera Theatre and was the church choir director at Sunnyside Retirement Community Meredith Chapel.
Dr. McCann completed her Post-Graduate Artist Diploma in Voice at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of acclaimed opera singer, Deborah Voigt. While in San Francisco, Melissa interned in the Education Department of San Francisco Opera and taught Kindergarten and First grade music with the San Francisco Conservatory in the Schools mentor-ship program. She also received a full scholarship to attend the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism.
Melissa earned her Masters of Fine Arts in Vocal Performance from the University of California, Irvine at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts where she sang the National Anthem for President Barack Obama at the school’s 50thAnniversary Celebration. At UC Irvine, Dr. McCann received critical acclaim for her portrayal of Euridice in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, and as the Soprano in Pergolesi's Stabat Mater.
Melissa specializes in the Alfred Series for piano and My First Piano Adventure for young students. This approach focuses on ear training and reading music. Custom exercises and choice of material is based on the student's level and field of study. Lessons are scheduled at the student's convenience as per availability. Frequency and length of lessons is based on the students needs.
Young voice students are taught general concepts, music theory, and ear training. After the voice is more mature, advanced and serious vocal study can be pursued. Melissa's students receive a well-rounded training in the style of their choice: Classical, Popular, Musical Theatre, and Jazz.
Melissa emphasizes on solid technique, posture, breathing, and control, in addition to music fundamentals.
I taught beginning and elementary group piano classes, voice classes, choir, and private piano and voice lessons.
Italian immersion program
Vocal Performance, Pedagogy, and Literature
Sigma Alpha Iota is a professional International Music Fraternity for women. Formed to uphold the highest standards of music and to further the development of music in America and throughout the world, it continues to provide musical and educational resources to its members and the general public.Sigma Alpha Iota operates its own national philanthropy, Sigma Alpha Iota Philanthropies, Inc.+ Read More
Dr. McCann sets high standards, but knows and is willing to work with you to obtain them. Also, she’s a lot of fun to learn under and is very knowledgeable about her craft.
Dr. McCann an amazing teacher. Worked with me to overcome my shyness. Professional, and patient. Will recommend to anyone who is seeking vocal lessons.
I had an absolutely wonderful experience with Melissa. She is one of the most helpful and fun teachers out there! I was able to grow so much as a singer and there was a huge difference in how I came to her and how I am now. I am working on pieces that I loved but never thought I could sing. She is really good with technique and shaping you into a better singer though working on the foundations of what makes a good singer. She is very knowledgeable. Not only was every lesson a great time but I left with something gained! Lessons can be challenging sometimes but they were always fun and I always felt encouraged and supported to do better. Also, she is very flexible as I often had a busy and changing schedule and we were always able to figure something out!+ Read More
Dr. McCann is not only an incredibly knowledgeable individual but is also an excellent educator. She knows how to approach problems from different angles to achieve the best results from her students. I work with her on a regular basis and can say that she always provides quality suggestions and tools to improve technique and interpretation. I highly recommend her for both piano and vocal training.+ Read More
Melissa is amazing! She helped me grow so much; I had no idea I would be able to sing the way I am able today. Mel is a great motivator, and really knows how to help you get to where you want to be.
I have been working with Dr. McCann in private lessons--she is the real deal AND she knows how to teach. I've studied a lot of things with a lot of people and found that only a good musician who knows how to pass that knowledge on can effectively teach it. Dr. McCann is that teacher!+ Read More
Melissa helped me sort out my audition binder and replaced my songs with music that fit my voice better. She is very well-versed in technique and artistry and I’m looking forward to more lessons with her!
Really helpful and nice!
We just wanted to thank you so much for all your help over the last few months in preparing Sara for her recitals. Her talent show at school was last night and she did fabulously and projected for all to hear and she couldn’t have done it without your teaching!+ Read More
Melissa was my first voice teacher, and I was so fortunate to have her. She was very patient with me because I was very shy and self conscious when it came to vocal lessons. She help me find my voice, and started crafting it using many different tools to help me understand the different elements that allows one to register sound. She is a joy to learn from, and I recommend any beginner to learn from her.+ Read More
Melissa is an amazing person and a wonderful teacher. I felt comfortable with her within the first 2 minutes, and accomplished more in our first session than I had in years on my own. She is awesome and I recommend her wholeheartedly to anyone who values teaching ability equally with personality! I will be a student until I can't sing anymore.+ Read More