Voice, Piano, and Songwriting
B.M. Jazz Vocal Performance, Temple University
Folk, Jazz, and Pop
I teach voice, piano, and songwriting. I graduated with honors from the Esther Boyer College of Music at Temple University, with a concentration in Jazz Vocal Performance. I’ve toured to many places in the US, performed at all sorts of venues, recorded several albums of jazz standards and original songs, and studied closely with notable jazz musicians, folk singers, an opera singer, and a Balkan music star. The most important thing I’ve learned is that the more hard work and persistence you put into music, the more fun and satisfying it is! These experiences and this concept is something I directly apply to my teaching.
I’ve taught private lessons to a wide age range of students with diverse backgrounds and previous experience in music, from beginners to professional performers. My students learn to trust their instrument and have more confidence on and off stage. My lessons incorporate vocal technique and care, music theory, repertoire, and performance skills. Each student receives personalized lessons that helps them reach their goals and grow as a musician and performer.
My teaching philosophy is to give students the tools to develop their own creative voice and become independent musicians. The relationship between student and teacher is a sacred one, built on trust and dedication to the art. Creating a safe environment for learning while challenging the student to achieve more than they think they can is very important to me.
When did you begin singing, and why?
I’ve been singing for longer than I can remember! I sang in local choirs as a child, and started taking private lessons with an opera coach when I was 10 years old. I wanted to get better and learn more challenging music. Part of what I love about music is that there’s always more to learn and room to grow!
What other instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?
I use piano every day, both while teaching music lessons and as a songwriting tool when I’m writing or arranging music. I studied piano as part of my Bachelor’s from Temple University, and took both piano and guitar lessons in my teens. I love teaching beginner piano, and also play piano accompaniment for my vocal students.
What are your personal goals as a musician?
I am always striving to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for music. While performing, my goal is to always tell a story and connect with my audience through the music.
Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked? Something you’ll remember forever?
There have been many moments throughout my musical studies and performing career that I’ve had “lightbulb moments,” but something I will never forget is sitting in my college music theory class and finally understanding some of the basic theoretical concepts that I had struggled with in the past. The professor was so helpful and took the time to explain things to me in a way that I could understand. Music theory was always very intimidating to me as a singer, because many voice instructors don’t teach it and tell students to learn everything by ear. Ear training is extremely important as well, but I believe that every singer deserves the chance to learn theory, just like their instrumentalist peers do.
What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?
My private voice teacher and mentor in college would always encourage me to keep working hard. If I struggled with a concept, he would challenge and encourage me until I was able to understand it. Whenever I felt self-conscious or intimidated by the work he would remind me: “Trust your training.” I think of those words all the time when I’m working on something challenging.
What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?
Like many vocalists, I didn’t have a lot of music theory training before going to college. I struggled with the basic concepts for a long time until I had some very patient and excellent professors break it down for me in such a way that I could fully understand. I learned to love music theory instead of fear it, and now I make sure all my students learn in a way that works for them!
What is your biggest musical achievement?
One of my proudest moments as a performer was performing a set of my own original music with a full band at the Philadelphia Folk Festival in 2016. I’ve performed at other notable venues, but as a songwriter it was very exciting to perform original music in front of an attentively listening crowd at the same place so many of my favorite artists have played at. There is something so special and inspiring about having the chance to be on the same stage that your childhood idols have been on.
Favorite thing about teaching?
I love seeing my students gain confidence and improve their skills over time. The best feeling is when the students can look back on their own accomplishments and see how hard they’ve worked and how far they’ve come.
What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
The harder you work at music, the more fun it is! Learn to enjoy the challenge, and the resulting mastery will bring you even more confidence and joy.
Personal music projects:
I write and perform jazz, pop, and folk music under my own name, Cecilia Ferneborg. I’ve always got something coming up in the Philadelphia area, so check out www.ceciliaferneborg.com for my schedule!