You are a very busy voice teacher in New York City; can you tell us about your studio in Brooklyn and your work at NYU?
My private studio is very diverse. Of course I have the usual high school students who want better roles in their school productions, many of whom go on to college vocal performance or musical theatre programs. I have some professional working actors who are constantly auditioning and then getting booked, leaving glorious holes in my schedule! Each student presents unique challenges and I’m very grateful that Somatic Voicework™ has given me a template to meet them where they are and help them.
At NYU Tisch where I teach musical theatre majors at the New Studio on Broadway, I have weekly lessons with some of the most talented, passionate, creative and motivated students I’ve ever known. They still need solid vocal technique and development, though, so that’s where I come in. They have repertoire classes covering EVERY kind of music – not just MT – so we are on the cutting edge of training for the current profession. They are expected to sing jazz, blues, different eras of pop and rock and folk as well as legit MT and belt. Not to mention dance their tushes off and acting training.
As a seasoned performer, having worked professionally in Musical Theatre in New York City, on national tours, internationally, etc., what do you think the important keys to success emerging artists must consider before embarking on a career?
If you listen to musical theatre singers of the past, they had very unique and recognizable voices. They may not have had technically perfect instruments or in some cases any vocal training, but they could inhabit a song, some quite beautifully. I worry about the graduates of all the hundreds of musical theatre programs across the country now. They may sing well, but in this highly competitive market, what is individual and special about them that will make them stand out? They are all beginning to sound the same – are we training the individuality right out of them?
The other thing MT performers need to know is: acting first. Unless you are an astonishing dancer or a good dancer who’s content to stay in the ensemble, what performers on Broadway have always been and continue to be are actors first and foremost. If you’re being sent in for an agent submission or going to an Equity call, they just ASSUME you can sing (and you’d better be able to!), but they are looking beyond that for strong acting and personalization of the work you bring in. [Read more…] about Spotlight on Michelle Rosen