Tag Archives: voice

Composition Teacher, Voice, Piano Lessons

Theory, Composition and More – Lessons with Annabelle Corrigan at Philly Music Lessons

piano teachers, vocal coachWe’re pleased to announce Annabelle Corrigan as the latest addition of teachers at Philly Music Lessons (piano lessons, voice lessons, and studies in music theory & composition). Annabelle lives in the ‘hood (Fishtown, that is), right down the street! She’s soon to join the ranks of Temple alumni (alongside many of our teachers), as she will be graduating in May from the Boyer College of Music with a degree in theory and composition. Annabelle also has her associates in piano performance and has studied voice as well. For students looking to learn piano or voice, or for those who want to explore music theory, Annabelle is a great guide – especially for those with an interest in songwriting or who want a deeper understanding of music (theory). Annabelle spends a lot of time composing, and her experience studying at a high level enables her to work with a wide variety of interests. Her own interests have taken her from opera, to classical, to jazz, film scores, and more. Schedule a Lesson

When did you begin playing [instrument], and why?:
I’ve been singing since I was about 8. I began to play piano when I was a teenager, because many of my classmates were really good at piano or some other instrument, and it inspired me to be like them.

What are your personal goals as a musician?:
I love opera, and my goal is to compose my own. I plan on working closely with the librettist, since I’m a poet as well.

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?:
I never knew what perfect pitch was until I was much older. I also didn’t realize I had perfect pitch until a professor at an audition made me aware of my ability. Since then, it’s become a wonderful tool.

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?:
Being compassionate with a student will allow them to fearlessly open up to their potentials.

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?:
In the winter months, my body feels tight and cold, and sometimes this causes tension during playing or singing. That’s why to me it’s important to work in a warm environment, do proper daily stretching, and have a healthy lifestyle (good diet, exercise, proper sleep).

What is your biggest musical achievement?:
Composing a fugue.

Favorite thing about teaching?:
I love sharing my passion for music with other human beings.

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?:
If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. Music is meant to be fun, enjoy it!

Personal music projects: i.e. bands, groups, shows, recording, etc. (if any):
I am in the process of composing a work for my sister’s wedding. Additional compositions underway, member of American Composer’s Forum, member of Contemplum (composition club at Temple), participant in the Oticons Film Score Contest.


Annabelle Corrigan’s Bio
I have always been involved with sounds and music from an early age. My greatest forte is my ability to hear. When I was young, people thought I might become a voice actor, because my skill at replicating voices was quite apparent. Still, I loved to sing and had been regularly involved in choirs. I dabbled in violin in the fifth grade, but I didn’t feel a “click.” Without despairing, I tried my luck with piano and felt instantly in sync. I knew this was the right instrument for me. During my piano studies, I continued to work on my voice. In addition, I studied the workings of a sound board, and was head sound chief at my high school. At the college level, I began to pursue composition, while still continuing with my piano and vocal studies. I hold an associate degree in music, piano performance, and I am currently working towards my degree in music theory and composition. I will be graduating from Temple University this coming May. I have been teaching music since 2006 and have worked with a wide range of ages and various group sizes. My joy is working with people in a field that I’m passionate about. My interests include music (jazz, classical, opera, new age), ballet, composition, yoga, meditation, going to the gym, hiking and camping, scuba-diving, sailing,Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture, cooking and baking, film-editing, sound engineering, poetry, reading good books, building websites, and watching documentaries.

Voice Teachers Discuss Vocal Performance & Recording

Using the Microphone, Playback, and Recording Process to Critique your Voice and Improve Vocals

recording voice

Singing Well – The Art of Knowing Your Voice

“Just sing it like you did outside of the booth” is what I continuously heard from my producer and sound engineer the first time I stepped into a recording booth. “Okay, I’ll try”, replying out of frustration.

Nothing.

I still was not producing the same vocal ability and performance that I could when I was singing to a group of people in an acoustic room with no amplification. It became more than exasperating. So I took a break. In fact, I took many breaks the first few months that I recorded in the ‘booth’, as we vocalists call it, because I just wasn’t hearing the voice that I knew so well in my head. The microphone had this ability to make me perform in an entirely different way, with an entirely different focus, and it happened on stage too. The difference between performing acoustically versus in a recording booth or through a live feed microphone can take any singer, trained or beginner, and bring them back to square one. I thought I had this whole singing thing “down-pat” until I began to realize that in singing (and most definitely in all music), you never really have it that way at all.

In learning to sing with technique, any trained teacher will teach the student about posture, breathing exercises, intonation, diction and all of the tools for learning how to perform. However, there is so much to learn about the voice, and not all of it comes with a teacher. Each of us have a different timbre, a unique tonal quality particular to ourselves. For most vocalists, pair this with a passion for music and singing, and it becomes soulful. There is absolutely a benefit to learning technique through training with a voice teacher, but sometimes we must learn from experience in order to grow. In this case, while recording in a booth may be frustrating at first, there are many benefits to learning to sing through amplification.

While not getting too technical explaining the art of singing through a microphone, there actually is a beauty and a science to it. As a vocalist, we begin to hear ourselves sing through our own head. Have you ever listened to yourself on a recording machine and thought to yourself, WOW! that doesn’t sound like me at all! It not only is interesting to learn how to “work the mic” but also, how to listen to yourself. You can learn a lot by listening to your recordings over and over, learning what sounds good and what doesn’t.

Play around with the levels of the instrumentation and your own vocals in the headphones. You can make the instrument levels higher if you need to be able to hear them better. Also, you can add sound levels to your vocals so you can hear them better as well. Listening to your singing voice may be one of the hardest things to get used to, but it truly is very important when recording. This is where you start to learn how to work with the microphone and really get the most out of a recording. It is nice to hear a rough mix of your vocals so you can learn where to improve, even if it is just in your own home studio! Here, you can start to learn the difference between your acoustic voice and your recording voice.

Also, it is always about the performance! You may be the best singer in the world but if you don’t perform with your heart and soul, it will come through on a recording. When listening back to your recording, take notice of places where you may be able to improve. Can you show a little more emotion in a certain area? Can you step away from or step closer to the mic to make a portion of the song come to life? This is almost like a dance. It can be difficult in the studio, because you may think you don’t have the energy cultivated in front of a live crowd. But you can access that. Pretend you’re in front of an audience, if that works for you.

Last, but definitely not least, don’t forget to ENJOY yourself! Though at times it may be frustrating, this should be fun. It is a great experience and a talent to pursue, and it is more than worth it when you can play your vocals for friends and family and be proud of what you’ve accomplished.

For a more in-depth look at vocals in the studio, check out “10 Tips for Nailing Your Vocals In The Studio” by Jeannie Deva at http://www.taxi.com/transmitter/1108/10-tips-for-vocal-recording.html.

Meet our Voice Teacher, Hayley Cass

Introducing New Jazz, Blues, and Soul Voice Teacher, Hayley Cass

Voice Teachers

Hayley Cass – Voice Lessons in Fishtown

We’re so grateful for our newest addition to the group of vocal teachers at Philly Music Lessons! When I first met Hayley, I was immediately struck by her positive energy, enthusiasm for music, and ability to inspire. She not only has a passion for music, but also a genuine desire to share that passion with others. Its clear that her goal is to help people find their own voice and experience joy in music. I almost signed up for lessons right then and there!

Her talents can be heard around Philly and beyond in her band, Red Martina. Hayley writes for the group while also contributing lead female vocals. We’re looking forward to seeing this talented act move up in the world of hip-hop and soul. They’re worth checking out! Here’s some material from their newest release:

When we chatted, Hayley told us about her own experience learning music. She’s an experienced teacher and is psyched to share valued insights from her own training. A true believer that anyone can find their voice through technique, exploration, and practice, Hayley is a great vocal teacher for all ages and styles of singing. Read more about Hayley in her bio and interview below:

Teacher Bio:

I teach voice, piano and composition. I started singing at a very young age and was always involved in church choirs and bands, as well as school chorales, competitions and a cappella groups. Although I attended Penn State University for science, I took many music courses. I have been trained by talented and prestigious music teachers outside of schooling and have used my background to pursue a full-time career in music. I have recorded two albums with my band, Red Martina, and have performed shows consisting of much of the music I have written. I am primarily a blues, jazz and soul singer and love to write songs on my free time. Much of the time, the songs that I write are used in Red Martina’s music and (with the help of my band members) we work together to make the songs come to life. I am excited not only to teach students and help them grow but to learn with them, as well. Schedule a Lesson

Hayley’s Interview

When did you begin singing, and why?:
I started singing before I can even remember. I always remember listening to my dad play blues and jazz guitar while I went to bed as a kid and I’d just sing a long until I’d fall asleep. I might have even been singing before I could speak but you’ll have to ask my parents about that! I then started singing and playing piano in church and Sunday School plays and my love and passion for music continued to grow. I started studying piano around 6 years old under a fantastic pianist in Warwick, New York and was lucky enough to learn piano ranging from classical and jazz, theory, and the importance of discipline. I don’t think there is a reason to why I “started” singing and playing. It is and has always been a part of me that is an expression of myself. Music has a way of taking over the soul and, for me, all else just falls into place.

What are your personal goals as a musician?:
I am currently the lead singer in a band called Red Martina and we have been working hard to do an international tour. I am lucky enough to have a great support system and we are always working very hard to create music that resonates with those it reaches. I wish to continue polishing my craft as a vocalist, composer, and musician and to never give up even when it gets tough!

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?:
 Yes! I’ll never forget when a vocal teacher of mine in college told me to “drop your birdcage”. It’s a breathing and diaphragm technique that helps with control of the breath and overall vocal delivery. I’ll never forget it! I remember exactly where I was when it “clicked” too! 

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?:
 While it may have not been a “teacher” per say, everyone in life can be a teacher if you let them. A friend gave me advice a few years ago that just stuck with me. A lot of times, things may be fearful, such as learning something new, trying something for the first time, or going to a place you’ve never been. Yet, instead of going into that experience with fear, go into it with love. Be excited, and don’t forget its okay to make mistakes. If you find that you have the passion for whatever it is you want to do, its normal to be scared, but don’t give up! The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground. 

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?:
 Getting into the recording studio for the very first time and singing on a microphone through a PA system. I had never heard my voice other than acoustically and it was so tough for me to get used to it! The microphone can also serve as an instrument if you know how to “work it” properly and in vocals it’s important if you’d like to perform.

What is your biggest musical achievement?:
 Writing and recording two albums with my band and performing to a sold out show for our very first live performance (my very first time singing and performing my own music). I am definitely proud of myself for remaining diligent with my work and continuing to live my dream when others have told me to give up. It has been tremendously gratifying to see my growth as a singer, composer and performer over the past few years. Also, one of the happiest moments for me was singing my brother and his wife’s First Dance at their wedding. It was incredibly beautiful and I’ll never forget it.

Favorite thing about teaching?:
 I love teaching for so many reasons. I’ve had great teachers and I aspire to be like them as I grow in my teaching personality and technique. I hope to coach my students to truly find the fire within themselves and help them discover what they’re capable of. When students can take home with them something new and make it come to life in their own image, it brings such delight and wonder.

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?:
 It’s much easier to give up when you get frustrated and just walk away. In those times, that is when you slow it down. I mean REALLY slow it down. Relax and let yourself actually FEEL the music. Almost like a meditation, it becomes you. 

Personal music projects: i.e. bands, groups, shows, recording, etc. (if any):
 I am primarily with a band called “Red Martina” and we have released two full length albums and a live studio session album. It has absolutely changed my life and I couldn’t be any happier. You can check us out on Spotify, Bandcamp,Pandora, iTunes, Youtube and other sources where you can find music online these days. Our debut record is called “Intransit” and our sophomore record is called “Come on Home”. It’s definitely worth listening to

Philly Music Lessons student performances!

Student Performance

Cello and Guitar Performance at Philly Music Lessons

The Importance of Student Performances – We returned this December to the Church of the Holy Trinity, where students performed their best. Playing in recitals is voluntary, but we always encourage students to take part. Its an opportunity for both teachers and students to focus on skills, master new material, and see a piece through to the end. It is also a time to experiment with performing in front of an audience. This kind of challenge gives students a unique sense of confidence. Recitals are also be a great way to practice playing live (work out those butterflies!). Ensembles and duets sharpen musicianship and enable students to gain group experience. Even though they can be a bit nerve racking, recitals tie together concepts in ways that go above and beyond the private lesson. So students, pat yourselves on the back! We know its not easy to get on stage, and we’re all so proud of the work you’ve done.

Into the Performance Archives – For some, this was their second or even third recital. For others, it was their first. Looking back it is incredible to see the progress of those who have returned (even since the 2014 Spring Recital). First timers, you’ll be able to look back at these performances in the future and say, “Hey, look how far I’ve come!” Part of why we keep an archive and write the recital review is so that students can analyze, critique, and appreciate their progress.

Our Fall 2014 Recital Review – This year, the cello made its first appearance. We had a few returning duos and some new – The Glew brothers performed a Coldplay song on cello and guitar, and two adult students played duets from the Mel Bay guitar books. New teachers contributed to the recital as well, including string teacher Veronica Hudacek, and piano teacher Meredith Ferro.

Lilly Huber opened the recital on the piano. Her teacher, Meredith Ferro, has been working with Lilly following classical piano methods, focusing on proper technique and note reading. Lilly played “Minuet in G”, and “Falling Leaves”. Her graceful performance was filled with ease – an ease that has grown since last recital!

Another one of Meredith Ferro’s piano students, Elim Savage, went next. Elim, a beginner, is among one of our youngest students (just 4 years old!). With his first piano lesson just a few months prior, Elim bravely performed “Hiking” with his teacher, followed by a great first-time solo performance of “The Rainbow”. Good Job Elim!

Then, Colton Moran came to the piano. Colton has been a student of our teacher, Alex Maio. This was his first time playing in a recital. Playing with both hands, a feat for a beginner piano student, Colton performed “Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick” simply and sweetly (just in time for the holidays!).

Ally Altshuler played us three songs from her growing repertoire: “Bravery at Sea”, “Waltzing Elephants”, and “Animal Band”. Ally and her teacher Joseph Primavera have been working on some pop tunes, while also studying note reading and beginner piano technique. Last Spring, Ally sang and played piano at the recital – Ally, its amazing how far you’ve come in just half a year!

Addie Dash has been working on some pop pieces with her guitar teacher. She chose to play a mellow, acoustic version of “Firework” by Katy Perry. As she and Joe work on guitar technique during lessons, Addie also works on songwriting. Exploring composition, melody and lyrics, Addie wrote an original tune – she played “Black into Light” at the recital. Good job Addy!

Gabe Moran was up next, bringing our attention to the drums. Gabe is a drum student with Alex Maio, and this was his first recital. He kept the beat while playing an 8 bar jam accompanied by some blues guitar from Joseph Primavera. We can’t wait to see Gabe play again with other musicians, as he’s clearly ready to back up his first band!

Jack Hirsh and Joe played “The General”, by Dispatch. Jack has been learning tablature and working on his fret board skills. Jack did a great job with the complicated finger work during the opening of this song. While playing some solid rhythm guitar throughout, Jack also sang the chorus with Joe. Last year, Jack played piano in the recital. He studies both piano and guitar during lessons. Bravo to a first time guitar performance!

Hayden Dash, a piano student with us, played “Best Day of My Life”, by American Authors. Thanks for bringing spunk and personality to this piece and to the recital! Its nuts to think it was only one year ago Hayden played this beginner’s classic (with equal energy!).

Jacob Altshuler played “The Man”, by Aloe Blacc. Jacob started guitar lessons with Joe not too long ago as a beginner/intermediate for his age group. Jacob has worked from guitar books, but has mainly been working with tab recently and right hand picking technique. We enjoyed Jacob’s song choice and his picking skills!

Duncan Glew played a duet with his cello teacher, Veronica Hudacek. Together they played”Etude #5″, by David Popper. Duncan is an intermediate cello student. He produced smooth and clear notes as he performed this classical piece for the audience.

Next, Duncan accompanied his brother, Finn Glew, as they performed “Viva La Vida”, by Coldplay. Finn sang and played guitar. As this was Finn’s first vocal performance, its clear these two are just scratching the surface of their musical collaboration! We hope to see more of this duo at the next recital.

Jessica Lydon has been an adult piano student with Philly Music Lessons for a few years. With an interest in learning chord melodies for popular songs, Jessica has been working on the song “Mad World”, by Tears for Fears. She performed this Donnie Darko tune for us on the piano.

Phyllis Farquhar and Joe Stanczak followed Jessica’s performance with two guitar duets. Phyllis is a beginner guitar student, and Joe Stanczak an intermediate. Both taking lessons with Joseph Primavera, these two played “Ballad”, and “Pretty Pickin'” from the Mel Bay Guitar books. There’s often no better way to make note reading come to life than in the form of duets. Often times, teachers will offer accompaniment for such practice, but we love when our students create their own ensembles.

Joe Stanczak, though a long time guitar student, recently began taking voice lessons with one of our teachers, Marcelle McGuirk. In order to improve vocal technique and better understand the mechanics of singing, Joe has been focusing on vocal exercises. He and Marcelle have begun applying a technical singing practice to his interest in classic rock. Coordinating guitar and vox together, Joe performed “Behind Blue Eyes” by The Who for the recital – a first-time vocal performance!

Henry Corkran, who studies guitar with Joe, played “Over the Hills and Far Away” by Led Zeppelin. Way back when, Henry was just beginning to scratch the surface of all the great classic guitar riffs from artists like Pink Floyd and Zeppelin. Its clear Henry’s grasp of the fret board is moving along!  Onward, to mastering more great electric guitar lines, Henry!

Derek Mansen, an advanced student studying jazz guitar, performed “Play it Pretty”. He’s been dissecting some chord melodies during lessons with Joe, tapping into theory along the way. Tackling these advanced pieces fosters a thorough understanding of the fret board and scales, and requires mastery of tone and form. Derek played this piece smoothly and evenly.

Alana Gardner closed the show with her heart-felt performance of “Come Home”, by One Republic. Performing on piano and vocals, Alana showed off her singing skills again! Alana has been translating pop music into solo performances, accompanying herself on piano. As a supplement to her lessons, Alana has experimented with recording. Recording, like recital performance, challenges students in a unique way. We’ve got some of Alana’s first recordings here.

To Our Students – When you’re in the thick of learning an instrument, its easy to forget that there was a time when you didn’t know anything about music – when your fingers were sore from holding down a single string, when you couldn’t yet hear intervals, when you didn’t know the names of the notes, or how to make a decent sound come from the strings or trumpet. Taking time to look back will remind you of the process and how far you’ve come. May these reflections inspire you as you continue into the future! As you watched everyone perform this past Fall, with students from ages 4 and up, perhaps you were inspired by those who are just a little further along than you. I know there were some little ones in our audience who were surely doing the same, waiting for their turn in the spotlight!