(Photographed Above: Dr. Darren Wicks, Brenda Earle Stokes, Jeanie LoVetri, Dale Cox, & Dr. Melissa Forbes, all faculty at the first LoVetri Institute held in Australia, 2016)
Hi Brenda, thanks so much for taking the time to meet with us today.
In January, you’re headed back to Toowoomba, Australia to teach a CCM voice course, what can you tell us about your upcoming class?
I created a course directed at teaching singers, singing teachers and choral conductors how to sing and teach jazz, pop and rock. In my travels I noticed there were courses on the voice and acting, but no offerings on how to stylistically approach the musical elements of these genres. As a jazz pianist (both of my degrees are in jazz piano), who has played in many jazz, pop and rock rhythm sections, I want to take this area of expertise and combine it with my knowledge of the voice and singing. The result is a soup-to-nuts course, where we address groove, improvisation, rhythm, stylistic inflections, as well as vocal technique. We will be singing our way through all of these styles and there will be a jazz trio in residence for an entire day!
I also include a lot of ethnomusicology, tracing the lineage of African music and culture in America, plus the history of popular music, jazz and rock. I have worked really hard on this course and am really excited to get to share my work with everyone. I’m hoping to get to share it with more singers and singing teachers in the future!
As someone who has served as faculty on Somatic Voicework™ teacher trainings and has worked with Jeanie in NYC for quite some time, how has Somatic Voicework™ helped you as both a teacher and a singer?
I first met Jeanie while I was a graduate student at Manhattan School of Music. I had a few lessons with her and I immediately connected to her clear and direct approach to the voice. After several years working with her privately, she encouraged me to take Level I, and I did II and III.
Somatic Voicework™ is really revolutionary: it is a holistic way to train the voice in a healthy, flexible and intuitive way. She taught me how to be an amazing teacher, and helped me really find my best and most versatile voice. She has been an incredible mentor and friend!
As a successful performer in NYC, what is your advice to people planning on moving to the big city to start a career in the performing arts?
The biggest piece of advice is to have a plan and have some money saved up. NYC is crazy expensive and it’s really hard to break in, so it’s a bit of a waiting game. When I first moved to NYC, I had just come off of working piano bar on the cruise ships, so I had some money in my pocket to take lessons, hear music and hang out at jam sessions. It’s also important to devote every fiber of your being into doing it. Passion, hard work and grit should all be packed in your suitcase!
I heard you’re currently developing an online piano course for singers & voice teachers, what can you tell us about that course?
I’m working on an online course in piano skills for singers. So many singers and voice teachers are frustrated by their abilities at the keyboard and want an easy solution. I’ve developed a method that is really clear and user-friendly. It will be launching this winter, so stay tuned!