I am a voice teacher, coach, and vocal consultant on Broadway shows.
I started teaching while I was at Eastman School of Music, doing my undergrad in vocal performance. I’d been singing since I was little. I was 10 when my parents brought me to my first voice teacher. Then, at a summer music camp, I met a teacher from Eastman. From that moment I knew I was going there, to study with her. But she retired a year after I got there. I had to find a new mentor.
After graduating, I was all set to get a master’s in vocal performance and opera at USC. But another teacher said, “Come work with me at my studio. I’ll make you a coloratura soprano and you won’t spend thousands of dollars on a degree you don’t need.” I deferred at USC. I would travel 45 minutes every day to his studio, in the middle of nowhere. This was old-school bel canto study, intense and not always fun. But I became a singer who could then work in Europe. I sang Puccini in Italy, Kurt Weill in Austria.
One director I worked with, who lived in New York, asked, “Why aren’t you pursuing Broadway, too?” I told him I didn’t know how to belt. Classical teachers wouldn’t teach it; it was considered unhealthy. I had to find a teacher who could help me learn to do it properly and overcome that fear.
After one audition, the casting director said to me, “Great, but what are you doing this weekend?” At first I thought he was hitting on me, but he offered me a small part in a movie. I got my SAG card and started doing background and under-five work, then moved into commercials and print. And when I started craving more creative work, I put together a cabaret act. It was an exciting way to tell my own stories.
All along I was teaching, but my real shift in focus came after I got married. I wanted children, and I saw friends with kids struggling to do eight shows a week. I knew that wasn’t going to work for me. So I went back to get my master’s in vocal pedagogy at Columbia. Soon after my son was born, a prominent voice teacher hired me as an associate. I stayed there for three years, then got a job at NYU. When Pace University called, I became one of six voice teachers to start their program, which is now one of the best in the country. But by that time I had two kids and was working 60 hours a week. It was not sustainable.
Leaving academia freed me to spend more time with my kids and enabled me to focus on new pursuits. I started teaching master classes. I joined the board of the Transport Group, a theater company Off-Broadway. I cast my net wider, to work as a vocal consultant on Broadway musicals. And I hired an assistant, who has also become an associate teacher in my studio. That was one of the greatest decisions I’ve made. I’m not the best at managing the nuts and bolts. I want to be in the studio teaching.
Learning about your voice and how you produce sounds, it’s a vulnerable thing. I keep lots of tissues in my studio. I think being a mom has made me more patient as a teacher. Yes, we want to get results, but we also need to take care of ourselves. Students will say, “Ugh, that was awful.” I’ll say, “Be kinder. Your body’s going to do better if you’re kinder.”
Interviewed on April 17, 2019