"...Mary instantly melted the fears and misconceptions about voice work that I had away. she always knew exactly what my voice and mind needed to make quick progress. She created a comfortable and encouraging environment while pushing me past what I thought could be possible. I never thought I could have made as much progress as I have in such little time."
The human voice is unmatched in expressivity, the centerpiece of theatrical art, the cornerstone of communication, and the envy of all other musical instruments. It is also delicate, misunderstood, frequently misused, and dizzyingly individual. It is my aim in teaching to find the best way to unlock each student’s potential for expressivity by developing a greater sense of awareness of their storytelling instincts, physicality, musicianship, and both their psychological and physical voice. I hope that through vocal training, students not only develop greater trust and control over their external voice, but over their internal one as well, and develop a greater sense of compassion for themselves, their own learning and developmental process, and emotional well-being. By singing, we tell stories that bring to light our shared humanity; and by learning to sing we become more in touch with our own.
The most efficient use of the vocal mechanism, rather than the most effortful, will yield the greatest rewards for the singer in their clarity of sound, projection and power, freedom to realize musical and dramatic expression, and most importantly, the endurance and sustainability to cultivate musical expression through singing throughout a singer’s entire life.
Healthy singing is a balancing act: support the breath without holding it; give the sound room without over-brightening or darkening; keep the vowels clean without losing connection to the free expression of text; practice diligently without losing the spontaneous joy of music. And yet, at some point, it all comes together, the voice seems to hop onto the tracks and the sound just goes all on its own, with tremendous freedom and ease - this is what I seek to help students cultivate.
I aim to balance supported and released breath energy with resonance awareness and connection to text in order to give the singer the greatest possible range of expression for least vocal cost. Rather than rigidly adhering to formulaic methodology, I work with my students to develop a shared language about their unique experience of the voice in order to best serve them. This could include kinesthetic tasks, imagery, individually tailored patterns of exercises, breath work, and dramatic connection, and all aim to empower the singer to make sustainable vocal choices that grant them versatility across all vocal styles – from classical to musical theatre, rap to pop to public speaking - and cultivate agency over their voice without the presence of a teacher or coach.
No great singer ever reached their peak by sounding like someone else, and countless voices and artists have been sabotaged by trying to sound older, darker, warmer, brighter, louder or simply different than they are. I encourage all of my singers to embrace and discover what their unique contribution to the world is, and consider success and growth to be measured by the achievement of greater ease, freedom, and clarity in the voice, and by the singer beginning to sound more like themselves. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and many young singers reach a measure of success by diligently studying the great artists who came before them: while I acknowledge the dedication and drive in that direction which allowed my students to reach the performance levels that bring them to my studio, I consider it my duty and privilege to help them find the unique, inviolable self within, whose voice spurs them forward in the pursuit of art – whatever part of themselves tells them each day that they have something to say.
As such, I do not focus on an acoustic product so much as an artistic process. Insistence on imitation of particular sounds will inhibit the development of the student's own. Development and discovery of the artist's true voice often requires vulnerability and a release of certain vocal qualities they identify as their own. It can be an unsettling process, and I strive to create a compassionate, curious studio environment where students have the freedom to play, make mistakes, explore, and question – “perfection” is strongly discouraged.
All lessons will be taught remotely until further notice due to the risks of in-person instruction during the coronavirus pandemic.
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