Saturday, October 31, 2015

Teaching the Super Talented

Possessing a dual career, while often daunting, has its perks. My dual career is, of course, performing and teaching. Through the years one or the other has taken more time and priority, sometimes to the neglect of the other, and it seems to happen in waves... for a few years the teaching has been overshadowing the performing, but the pendulum swings back eventually to bring balance back to this soul which yearns to do more than one thing very well...

Today I am excited to share news of one of many very successful singers I have had the privilege of teaching... having had no fewer than five former voice students (that I know of) perform in Broadway musicals, not to mention those who have pursued successful careers as stage and film actors, pop singers, opera singers, and music teachers, I am blessed to now sit back and watch their blossoming careers unfold. One such success is Broadway star Jessie Mueller, who garnered a Tony award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical in 2014 for her role as Carole King in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and then a Grammy award in 2015 for that same role--she and her cast won in the category of Best Soundtrack of a Musical. She has recently been cast in her fifth leading Broadway role in Waitress, which opens next spring and features the amazing music of Sara Bareilles. Jessie's mastery of so many styles--operetta, Broadway belt and legit, jazz, and pop--have ensured her place in the repertoire as one who can do it all, and her peerless vocal beauty will, I expect, keep her on the top of the A-list of leading ladies for quite a while. As her undergraduate singing teacher, I remember so many great songs and arias we worked on together, and her constant thirst for discovering new styles (she asked me one day to teach her to scat-sing, which she did so well opposite Harry Connick, Jr. in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, for which she earned her first Tony nomination). Of course, she was a natural, and it was my pleasure to share my expertise in this and other areas with the musical sponge that is Jessie...

I look forward to traveling to New York in the near future to see Jessie and many of my other former voice students do what they do best, and I count myself tremendously blessed to be able to share the joy of their success. As any teacher knows, watching one's students (or former students) go on to do great things sports a particular brand of pleasure. I am proud of every single one of my students and I count myself so fortunate to enjoy a dual career as performer/teacher that yields so very much.