Max Gallagher – Voice, Flute, Saxophone, Guitar, Ukulele, Piano Teacher

Max Gallagher
Voice, Flute, Saxophone, Guitar, Ukulele, Piano

Max Gallagher


B.A Mathematics, Drexel University

Classical, Pop, Jazz, R&B, Musical Theatre

Max Gallagher (they/them) is a multi-modal artist based in South Philly. They recently graduated with a degree in Mathematics from Drexel University, and outside of academia, their work has primarily been in arts education and administration. As a teacher, Max’s core belief is that in order for students to perform at their best, they must have practice spaces which support and facilitate experimentation. Max is interested in helping every student develop their unique perspective and voice (whether through singing or instrumentation), rather than forcing students into an arbitrary mold of what is “correct” or “good.” Outside of their work, Max is a writer and performer themself, and they love to participate in work which allows queer, trans, BIPOC, and other marginalized people to shine and be celebrated.

When did you begin singing, and why?

I’ve been singing my whole life, but I didn’t find my true voice until late in high school! Before then, I had been trying to hard to sing well and with precision and proper technique – and I had forgotten why we even sing in the first place. Singing ought to feel good! Once I started singing for me, for my own pleasure and my own purposes, the glass ceiling broke open.

What other instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?

Much of my formalized musical education comes from my time as an instrumentalist; I started on flute in elementary school, and then switched to saxophone in high school, eventually picking up guitar and keyboard in college. The human voice is such a dynamic instrument, and to this day I still find myself channeling different instruments as I sing, to access more colors. Like, “this verse should sound like a flute,” and “at the climax of the song, my voice needs to be like a tuba, blasting out sound!” Instrumental musicianship has immeasurably impacted my artistry.

What are your personal goals as a musician?

I am in the process of arranging a studio album for myself, and I am in the drafting process of a few different musicals for theatre. I am most excited by music with a strong story and emotionality, and I want to spend my free time creating more of that music.

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?

It was every singer/actor’s nightmare: right in the middle of the first number in the show… my voice cracked. And it was not a gentle crack, mind you. Everyone heard it, and I felt my body clench. I felt so embarrassed – until I looked out at the audience and saw that they were still engaged. They were still there, in the room, with me, and so I just kept going. And eventually, by act 2, I’d entirely forgotten about the voice crack in the first place. I learned a great deal about breath support, and what it means to properly warm oneself up for a show – but more importantly, through this experience, I learned how essential it is that we keep moving forward. We will all fail, so many times, both in the safety of our homes and in front of audiences alike. This is unavoidable! This is life. However, we can always choose to keep looking up and supporting ourselves, even when we fail. Now, I almost look forward to my next voice crack! I am excited to see how I’ll recover and how much I’ll grow as a consequence.

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?

An acting professor at Drexel University helped to transform my relationship with performing and with silence, when he recommended my to think about breathing not as something that prepares us to sing, but as part of the singing itself. It is the other half of singing! In order to make any noise at all, we must first inspire – and this translates out into performances when we allow ourselves the space and time to simply breathe in front of an audience (an act which can be just as compelling as the noise-making half of singing).

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument

The greatest challenge of learning any instrument is that of finding the discipline to practice your instrument. It’s hard to do – because sometimes practicing is no fun at all! And that’s because it’s not meant to be. It is not easy to do, but finding the motivation to carve even just ten minutes out of your day to practice your instrument can make all the difference. I learned this lesson in high school, when I saw my peers starting to progress further than I was in their respective instruments. They were up for more opportunities, and they experienced a deeper sense of joy and oneness with their instruments – and it was then that I started the arduous journey of developing a sense of discipline, so that I may too experience such great connection to my instruments.

What is your biggest musical achievement?

Thus far, my biggest musical achievement has been winning second place in a songwriting competition. In the past few years, I’ve started writing and arranging my own original compositions, and for this particular competition, we were asked to write about climate change. I wrote about a great big flood and the finitude of time, and I arranged the song for a small chamber orchestra and a vocalist. I feel deeply proud of the art, and I am so proud to have seen it recognized for its artistic merit.

Favorite thing about teaching?

I love helping people through hard days. We all get them – days when the colors in the world feel muted, days when it’s hard to find reasons to smile. I am so moved when people can find the energy to show up for themselves, even on these hard days, and there is nothing more fulfilling than helping someone to re-find their joys.

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?

Recognize that which makes you feel good – and patient, disciplined, and gentle enough with yourself to pursue it.

Personal music projects:

Here’s a few songs by Adele that I sang for a cabaret show, and an original song I wrote for an environmental conservation project


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