Lessons and Classes
Students of all ages and abilities, beginning through professional level, are welcome to apply for a limited number of openings in my studio, which is centrally located in the Como/Northend neighborhood of St. Paul. Please visit the contact page if you are interested in obtaining more information or signing up for lessons.
Learning to sing so that the voice can function efficiently and naturally is fundamental for anyone who wishes to maintain a healthy and beautiful instrument through any type of sustained vocalization. Lessons focus on helping the singer to discover the strengths of their own unique voice, while building a solid, bel canto technique. Students learn correct breathing and breath management, proper placement of the voice and the different vowels, relaxation of facial structures and other muscles that can get in the way of good sound production, how to balance the onset and release of each tone, how to even out the different registers of the voice so that they may be smoothly navigated, and last but by no means least, how to put technique at the service of artistry. Performance practice, phrasing, diction, and text interpretation are central to the study of any repertoire.
Because my own interests and training lie primarily in “western art music” from 1600 to the present, this is the repertoire in which I can most strongly support my students. However, I am open to all different styles of music and encourage students to let me know when they are interested in exploring music outside of the western art music genre. Past and present students have been able to apply the principles of classical technique to everything from musical theater and jazz repertoire to folk and rock styles.
Voice actors and other public speakers have also found vocal lessons to be helpful in developing a correctly supported speaking technique and increasing their range of expression in speech situations. Issues of declamation, diction, projection, and breathing are quite similar between speaking and singing. Bringing both modes of vocalization closer together is beneficial to singers and speakers alike.
Beginning students are advised to start with half-hour lessons, while more advanced students may wish to consider hour-long lessons. An ideal guideline is that students should plan on practicing at least the same length of time as their lesson, five times a week. But like exercising any muscle, several shorter practice sessions throughout the week will do more good than one or two long sessions when time gets tight.
To secure a regular lesson time and a place in the studio, students are encouraged to register for either monthly or quarterly blocks of lessons, for which they receive a 20-25% discount off the base lesson price and free registration for monthly studio and master classes (see Prices). It is also possible to arrange regular lessons on alternate weeks depending on schedule flexibility.
Because making music, especially vocal music, is a shared experience, I encourage my students to take advantage of the opportunities I offer for ensemble singing, performing, and coaching. I am happy to help my students put together balanced ensembles for the exploration of the great quantity of (wonderful but often sadly neglected) repertoire for small ensembles from operas, oratorios, musicals, and chamber music. I also provide frequent opportunities for students to sing for each other, both in the studio recital format and in masterclasses with myself and other respected teachers.
Besides building an instrument and becoming a musician, classical singers must also have a good command of the languages they sing in. Italian, German, and French are the most common languages, although Russian and Spanish are also becoming popular. Students are encouraged to study foreign languages, with particular attention to pronunciation and diction. Having attained fluency in German through years of study and extended stays in Austria, I offer individual coaching sessions in German language and poetry study for those who are interested.
As a trained pianist, I am capable of providing basic accompanying in lessons. However, because playing the piano takes some of my attention away from the voice, students (particularly intermediate/advanced students) should consider bringing a pianist to some or all of their lessons. It is also very important for vocalists to learn how to sing with a collaborator, since 99% of all vocal music requires at least one (usually a pianist)! A studio accompanist can be provided at reasonable rates, or students are welcome to bring a pianist of their own choice. At recitals and masterclasses, it is required that students either use the studio accompanist or bring their own pianist, and for ensemble coachings it is strongly encouraged.
I also provide coaching for pianists, particularly those who are interested in studying collaborative piano/vocal repertoire. I have over 20 years of experience playing the piano, 10 years of piano teaching experience, and have studied with several preeminent piano teachers in the Twin Cities (including Don Betts and Irena Elkina). During my studies at Eastman, I was also fortunate to be able to regularly attend coaching sessions and masterclasses with internationally acclaimed vocal coaches. Students may take lessons on a newly rebuilt Mason and Hamlin A, or on an 1820 Broadwood fortepiano for appropriate repertoire.