Nancy Rathbun

Nancy R.

Irvington, NY

About Nancy R.

Nancy teaches: Ages 5 and up
Teaching since: May 2006
Last sign in: 5 days ago


I believe in the extraordinary power of music to communicate, to inspire and, often, to heal. That belief inspires all my work.

My goal is to help you find the power to express express through singing your unique self. It doesn't matter whether your voice is professional quality or whether it's even "good" in the conventional sense. It's YOUR voice. It has its own sound and characteristics, its own particular beauty, and the world needs to hear you!

Whether you want to be a professional or audition for your school musical, NYSSMA, All-State chorus, college and conservatory, or whether you just want to have fun and hit those high notes in the shower, I would love to help you.

I'm a classically trained leading soprano who has had the great good fortune to sing masterpieces with such companies as the Caramoor Music Festival, Glimmerglass Opera and the Aspen Music Festival. I also have undergraduate and master's degrees from Brown University and the Manhattan School of Music.

But don't let the fact that I'm an "opera singer" give you the wrong idea. Yes, strict classical training gives me in-depth understanding of how the human voice works, but I love and teach music of all genres. My students include professional opera singers, yes, but also rock and Broadway-style singers, college and conservatory students, teenagers singing in their school musicals, doing All-State chorus, or preparing for NYSSMA, as well as adults who are taking voice for the love of singing, the fun of the challenge and so they can join their local chorus or sound great on karaoke night.

Above all, the most important qualities I offer as a teacher are the simple human ones: understanding, patience, imagination, kindness, enthusiasm, respectfulness and absolute commitment to helping you meet your vocal goals.

*** Lesson Details ***

I tailor my lessons to each singer's particular interests, goals and challenges. Some students thrive with a highly technical approach; some thrive in a less formal, more supportive environment; most singers do best with an approach that mixes the two. The important thing to know is that you will receive lessons that are specifically tailored to you. There's no single template.

*** Specialties ***

For advanced classical singers I have a great depth of experience and wide knowledge of oratorio, opera, German lied and French, English and American art songs. I also have a specialized background in "performance practice" baroque and classical vocal ornamentation.

For all singers, I am also a superb acting coach!

Photos and Videos

The wonderful performers (and me!) on the March, 2015 recital. So proud!


Leading Soprano

Jun 1994 - Aug 1998
Caramoor Music Festival

Leading roles under the baton of Maestro Will Crutchfield singing Fiordiligi in Cosi fan Tutte, Irene in Tamerlano, Albina in La Donna del Lago, Nerea in Deidameia, Tisbe in Cenerentola, and others.

Leading soprano

Jun 1992 - Aug 1996
Glimmerglass Opera

I sang leading roles with Glimmerglass, one of the leading opera companies in the United States, for four years. Among my roles there were: Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Lady Billows in Britten's comic masterpiece Albert Herring, and Alice in Verdi's masterpiece, Falstaff.


Masters in Music Performance

Sep 1995 - May 1997
Manhattan School of Music

Bachelor of Arts in Voice

Sep 1987 - Jun 1990
Manhattan School of Music

Bachelor of Arts, History

Sep 1983 - May 1987
Brown University

Languages Spoken


Fluent / Native Proficiency


First Prize

Apr 1990
Oratorio Society of New York

First Place, Serge Koussevitsky Prize

Nov 1989
The Koussevitsky Foundation


National Association of Teachers of Singing

Mar 2007

Founded in 1944, National Association of Teachers of Singing, Inc. (NATS) is the largest professional association of teachers of singing in the world with more than 7,000 members worldwide.

Write a Review

8 Reviews on Nancy R.

kevyn Oct 16, 2016
Broadway Singing · In home
she is very nice
Fred Jun 18, 2016
Classical Voice · In studio
Verified Student
Spent a lot of time going over my musical background and getting to know me in general. Made an assessment of my vocal ability, potential strengths and weaknesses that seemed accurate to me. Proposed a lesson plan to develop my singing that seemed reasonable and practical given my goals.
Sofia B. Apr 9, 2016
Singing · In studio
Verified Student
My daughter loved her first lesson
Bettina Oct 27, 2015
Singing · In studio
What makes Nancy special as a voice teacher is her ability to understand her student.
I did not want to become a professional, I just wanted to be able to sing in my church choir and not sound
completely off. It turns out that there is a lot to singing which I had no knowledge of, the most important part is
being relaxed and breathing properly. With her help I am singing much better than I ever thought I could and singing with my choir with so much more confidence!

I highly recommend Nancy. She is patient (with me one often has to repeat segments over and over until they come out right), she
never gets upset and she knows how to encourage you when you do well. She is warm and funny and it is a pleasure to have her as a teacher and a coach.
Cleo D. Aug 18, 2014
Singing · In studio
Nancy is awesome! I'm so happy I have this opportunity to tell everyone what a really great person and teacher she is. She's really demanding (but in a nice way) and knows her stuff technically, but she's also really encouraging and kind and I feel like she "gets" her students.

I'm going into my junior year at Cornell where I'm studying pre-med, and believe it or not I really feel like voice lessons with Nancy helped me get here. I love singing, but never had much confidence. I started taking lessons with Nancy my senior year in high school and she helped me sing so much better than I ever thought i could. She was really supportive of my song-writing too. I ended up getting a good part in the school musical (I went to a super competitive high school too) and performing my own songs at a couple of local venues.

Then as part of my college applications she suggested that I include a recording of me performing some French art songs by Claude Debussy. Not that I was a classical singer or was even going to study music seriously in college, but my family is French and I really like the poetry of Paul Verlaine. Nancy introduced me to some cool Debussy settings of Verlaine poems. I thought the songs would be way too hard for me, but with Nancy's help I actually sang them really well and did a good recording that I think helped set me apart in my college applications.

Now when I come back home I always have a few lessons with Nancy. (I still compose and perform my own songs) And don't tell anyone, but she's a lot better than any of the voice teachers at Cornell! Not naming names of course.
amal M. Jul 26, 2014
Singing · In studio
I have been taking singing lessons from Nancy for about 3 months now.
Nancy's approach to teaching is very different. She does not try to fit you in a syllabus. She patiently understands what areas you need to focus on singing and where you are in singing and works with you towards achieving your singing goals.

with Me, I am OK in identifying pitch, but had trouble calming my nerves, and that came in the way of singing my high range notes.

Nancy helped Me on this area. She always spends time in making me relax with breathing exercises before singing. I cant believe how much progress i have made in three months.

would definitely recommend for any body who is at any level of singing and would like to sing better
Chrissy C. Feb 5, 2014
Excellent Voice Teacher

My teenage daughter has been taking voice lessons with Nancy for over a year. We have seen such great improvement in her technique as well as in her confidence. Nancy is very patient and provides constructive feedback which has enabled my daughter to grow vocally. I am so pleased with Nancy as a voice instructor that I now have my other daughter beginning vocal lessons with her.
Amy M. Jan 29, 2014
So rewarding!

My 14 year old daughter, Rachel, has been taking voice lessons with Nancy for almost a year. We believed that Rachel had native singing talent, but we have been amazed and delighted with how rapidly her voice has developed under Nancy's tutelage.

My spouse and I are not the only ones who are pleased... I am including here an excerpt of a social media post Rachel recently wrote: "About two years ago, my parents, my sister and I sat down on the couch to watch the TV show “X Factor”. A girl named Rachel Crow came on and sang, admittedly, beautifully -- bringing my dad to tears. In a fit of uncharacteristic jealousy, I lashed out and screamed at him for liking her singing better than mine, singing being something I enjoy immensely. I sing every chance I get! I made it my goal to sing so well one day that my dad would cry as a result. About six months ago, I started working with a singing teacher, Nancy. I progressively have gotten better and my voice is more controlled. Fast forward to tonight, during an awesome evening with some family friends. I sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" for them, a song I had been working on with Nancy. And… I did it! My dad cried as a result of my singing! I know it sounds small, but I was incredibly excited and I needed to share it!”
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