Helen Hass – Voice Teacher

Voice and piano
M.M. Vocal Performance, University of Michigan
B.M. Oakland University
Classical and Jazz 

voice, lessons, fishtown, philly, south philly, center city, musicI am a native Michigander and singer of opera and jazz. I moved to Philadelphia to be a part of a new network of musicians; I currently sing at St. Mark’s Church in Center City and also teach at The Philadelphia School in their after school music program. Before my move, I sang as a part of The Michigan Opera Theatre chorus, Opera MODO, various church and synagogues and have managed a 35 student studio.

When did you begin singing, and why?
My first experiences with singing were singing in church with my mom – my first singing experience onstage was a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta camp at the Michigan Opera Theatre at 12, and I fell in love with opera soon after that experience.

What other instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?
I studied piano for many years and teach beginning and intermediate piano. I also had a stint with electric bass, and hope to get back into playing in the future.

What are your personal goals as a musician?
I work to never stop learning and growing in my instrument – I love the athletic nature of singing and the body connection/awareness it gives each singer. My goals are tied around finding new ways of making music and connecting others to their vocal abilities. 

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?
I remember the moment I really felt my larynx drop and release in a lesson. I have had so many little moments of accomplishment through feeling and understanding, though – it’s always an awesome experience! 

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?
“Singing is best taught by success” – from my undergraduate voice teacher, Edith Diggory. It’s true, and it’s what makes singing so difficult – learning an internal instrument sometimes feels like searching for a flashlight in the dark. 

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?
I think the most difficult moments I’ve had is when I’ve felt as though my technical abilities don’t line up with my emotive abilities. It’s hard to find the balance between emotional expression and vocal exactitude. 

What is your biggest musical achievement?
I had the awesome opportunity of singing and dancing as a Grisette in The Merry Widow at The Michigan Opera Theatre in 2015. The show was an exhilarating experience and singing while dancing was a fun challenge!

Favorite thing about teaching?
I love the confidence that vocal awareness inspires. I always say that my job is really to make myself disposable – that is, each student will slowly gain a specific understanding of their own voice and won’t need me reminding them what to do. I love seeing that process of vocal confidence build. 

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
I think it’s always, always important to invest time into reminding yourself why you love music. Playing or singing pieces you love, seeing artists you admire. As a music professional, it is really easy to feel burn out – but connecting with the reasons of why I do what I do always rekindles a fire under me. 

Personal music projects:
I have been singing jazz in the Great Lakes area for 2 years, and am so looking forward to getting into the Philadelphia jazz scene 🙂