Voice & Piano
I teach Voice and Piano. I received my degree from Temple University in Jazz Voice with a focus in Music Education in 2016. Music has always been the center of my life. My sophomore year of high school, I became our choir director and taught 60+ students every day until I graduated. We became an award-winning ensemble, sweeping first place at every competition and eventually performed at the 2012 London Olympics. In 2010, I was selected for and participated in the 5-Week Summer Program at Berklee College of Music and it cemented my decision to pursue a degree in music. In 2011, after being chosen for the Massachusetts All-State Choir, I had the opportunity to tour Europe with the Sound of America. I sang during a mass at St. Mark’s Basilica as well as performances in Notre Dame Cathedral and the Neuschwanstein Castle. By 2013, I was elected music director of OwlCapella (a co-ed a cappella group), where I led rehearsals and recording sessions as well as arranged music for a 12-part ensemble. We performed regularly all around the East Coast, including opening for The Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. I loved volunteering at Play On, Philly!, an after-school music program that provides high quality music education for students who typically lack access, where I led rehearsals and provided piano accompaniment.
The most important thing for me is meeting my students where they are musically, making them feel comfortable, and then tailoring each lesson just for them. I am a firm believer that if you can talk, you can sing! I also believe piano is one of the greatest instruments to have a foundation in and encourage everyone in my life to take lessons. I like to start each lesson with centering ourselves in our body and focusing on the breath. I incorporate a fun, healthy mix of technique, theory, sight-reading, improvisation and learning new music in my lessons. I’m always excited to hear what my students are listening to and what makes them feel empowered and happy! It’s important to me that my students feel connected with the music they choose. My favorite teachers always encouraged me to scout out and listen to everything and discover what I loved while guiding me along the way. I hope to nurture and support my students in the same way on their journey with music. I am open to teaching all ages and helping my students learn any genre.
When did you begin singing / playing piano, and why?
I began singing very young and started playing piano when I was 3. There’s a video of me, maybe 3 or 4 singing very shyly, but perfectly in tune. Growing up, my mom had “Opera Day” where we had to sing everything in an operatic voice and I mean everything, my friends included! It forced me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to sing daily. I secretly loved pretending to be an opera singer in the laundry room. We made up songs about daily life and I remember singing harmonies with my sisters at a very young age. My family participated in musicals and we would always put on shows at home as well. We also sang a lot in church. I was lucky to grow up in such a musical family and be constantly on stage performing. In high school, I joined the choir after having been in the band since elementary school. I went from a shy flutist to studying opera and was soon chosen to tour and sing with my high school’s jazz band.
I was very fortunate to start taking classical piano lessons when I was 4 and continued taking lessons through high school. I can definitely relate to not wanting to practice growing up, but it absolutely pays off to stick with it and practice daily, even if it’s just for 10 minutes! My grandparents played piano and taught my mom and then she taught me…I guess it was inevitable! I thank my mother for encouraging me to play. I remember improvising over Mozart sonatas as a kid and my teacher not being too happy. Improvisation is something that I didn’t have much of in my classical piano lessons and I craved it. I want my students to feel they can comfortably improvise no matter what genre. Improvisation is integral to nurturing that creative side and building musicianship.
What other instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?
Since elementary school, I’ve played the flute and piccolo and have always loved it! I also have a mini accordion, bass, and a guitar that I play around with in my apartment.
What are your personal goals as a musician?
To never, ever stop growing and learning as a musician. I always joke that my life long goal is to become Esperanza Spalding–she is one of my biggest inspirations. My goal for this next year is to learn bass and perform as much as possible. I’d love to start a band fusing jazz/funk/reggae with a tight horn section and a slappin’ bass line.
Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked? Something you’ll remember forever?
When I was first learning how to scat, my teacher told me: “Try to think of the melody going along, sort of like a clothesline. So if you get lost, you can hook a melody note or two to keep you straight. Scatting is not random, yes it’s improvising, but it’s not random. It’s like having a conversation with somebody you just met. You don’t plan it. We all have phrases we use over and over. You have to learn the alphabet first, vowel sounds, consonants, how to structure a sentence and then build a phrase.” She told me to take the pressure off and that nobody’s expecting me to be Ella Fitzgerald off the bat! It really helped me and I reference this conversation often. As a true perfectionist it is easy for us to be hard on ourselves, but music should first and foremost be fun!
What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?
My favorite piece of advice came from my voice professor when I was studying opera at Boyer College of Music & Dance. I had done all my preparations and was getting ready to go on stage for my recital and she said, “Don’t listen, feel.” It changed everything for me. She gave me the power to let go and be.
What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?
Learning how to make a sound out of a flute was very difficult at first– but luckily I had great teachers who didn’t give up. My teacher would instruct, “Say ‘Winnie the Pooh’ and then pretend you are spitting rice out of your mouth with your tongue”– and it worked! Years later as a Music Education major, I am sitting in a woodwinds pedagogy class surrounded by my colleagues struggling to make a sound. I told them what my teacher had told me years ago and they were instantly able to make a sound. This is why I love teaching, there are little moments you never forget that you didn’t even realize until later.
What is your biggest musical achievement?
I’d say right now getting a degree in music and being able to give back and inspire others!
Favorite thing about teaching?
My favorite thing about teaching is seeing my students succeed and exceed their goals. There is nothing like seeing someone grow beyond their expectations and knowing you helped them in their journey! I love those light bulb moments when they look at you and you can see it all clicked. It’s an incredible feeling. Teaching is one of the most rewarding professions and I feel very fortunate to do it.
What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
Find music that you really connect with so it moves you to want to learn and practice!