My parents raised me to believe that I could achieve anything, so long as I worked hard and maintained my tenacity. While I acknowledge that this statement ignores the many other factors that influence success, this single belief has defined the way that I live my life. Give it your best, see what happens, and repeat—regardless of the outcome. Accept failure but be sure to fail forward. What’s important is that you never stop trying. This sentiment has not only served me well in academia, but in life. As a teacher, I want each of my students to genuinely believe that they can do anything if they work hard, abandon their fear of failure, and embrace persistence.
To accomplish this goal, I make sure to meet each of my students at their level. Every student is an individual, so they should be given highly personalized instruction; I specifically tailor my teaching to the student’s background and identity. This helps to build trust and respect and fosters a team-mindset. Too often, voice teachers make teaching about themselves instead of their students. My job is to guide the student to finding their own vocal truths. This is how we create the empowered artists and individuals of the future.
I am always sure to thank my students for their being vulnerable and open; I consider it a privilege that my students are willing to share their voices—and, by extension, their souls—with me. In the classroom, I immediately establish a supportive environment where experimentation is encouraged to create truly moving music at the highest level; an environment where everyone is working to find, cultivate, and celebrate that which makes their voices, and what they have to say as artists, totally and beautifully unique.
My vocal truths can be summarized by the following sentence: I believe that great singing should be easy, honest, and free. As someone who has had to go through the long, arduous process of rehabilitating my voice due to poor instruction, I know how crucial it is to teach healthy technique that is grounded in the body. When teaching, I primarily use concepts of the Swedish-Italian School of Singing; however, I draw from my knowledge of all pedagogical philosophies to find something that will connect with and work for each unique student. I teach by the following rule: “Everything works for someone, but nothing works for everyone.”
When working with students dramatically, I encourage them to voice their own character interpretations. I ask questions that get them to think in new ways— questions that lead them to answers that they otherwise wouldn’t have thought of. For example, I may ask, “What do you think this character’s childhood was like, and how might that influence how you portray them?” We then take those answers and work together to flesh them out further, so that the student’s ideas can be fully realized. This serves an important practical function: so that they gain the confidence to convincingly portray roles on their own, without the help of professional dramatic coaching.
Inclusivity is deeply integrated into my teaching philosophy. I believe in exposing students to a wide spectrum of music that inspires them to further expand their knowledge of lesser-known composers and repertoire. I want students to get excited about expanding their knowledge beyond the traditional canon; I want them to be eager for new discoveries, and I want them to feel confident in their abilities to discuss their findings with their peers. All students should feel represented and empowered by the music they study; for this reason, I encourage students to play an active role in choosing their repertoire. When every student feels like they have a seat at the table, I can cultivate an environment in which thoughtful, judgement-free discussion thrives.
I am proud to say that my studio is a safe space for all individuals, regardless of race, gender, or orientation.