Shaun McGrath – Voice, Piano Teacher

Voice, Piano

Shaun McGrath


Classical, Jazz, R&B, Pop, Rock

My name is Shaun McGrath and I am what you would call a Heldentenor, which translates to Heroic Tenor. You can call me Mr. Shaun. Before moving to Philadelphia, I was known as the “biker who sings opera”, as I rode my motorcycle EVERYWHERE! The year before I bought my motorcycle, I made my stage debut in the Portland Opera Chorus’ production of Richard Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer in 2007. Since then, I have kindled a love of riding motorcycles, and the incredibly dramatic music of Wagner. I was even invited to perform the work again with the Seattle Opera Chorus later that year. While in Seattle, I sang in Verdi’s Aida and also performed as a soloist under the baton of Marvin Hamlisch in Seattle Symphony’s 2010 production of The Music Man. My most memorable time on stage was in Seattle and Portland for a performance of Star Wars in Concert directed by Dirk Brossé, in monstrous arenas.

I then moved to Cleveland, OH to settle in for a big voice change, bringing me up from the Bass-ment of my vocal range into the rafters. My main goal for right now is to remain focused on getting representation all the while expressing how fun singing should be! If you feel like singing isn’t fun and doesn’t bring you the kind of joy that you want from your voice, I would certainly love to help you discover the joy of singing. I would be in trouble if I did not enjoy singing, as I am currently in the middle of a 10 year long study of two of Wagner’s toughest characters; Tristan and Siegfried. When I am not actively practicing or in rehearsal, I love gaming, riding my motorcycle, and going down the shore!

When did you begin singing, and why?

I started singing in 8th grade, covering songs by my favorite thrash metal band, Metallica. I took a song to a middle school talent show and beat the school’s own prima donna. I quickly discovered that I enjoyed the beauty that was being created on the stage over the misery of losing on the Gridiron every Friday night, so then I when I had a season ending injury, I got involved in our high school’s very tiny drama department before branching into opera.

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

Guitar of course, and piano. Unfortunately, I have been so busy crafting my instrument, the others have fallen by the wayside. However, the metal head in me does want to break out the ‘69 Les Paul Gibson Studio Classic from it’s storage container in Ohio.

What are your personal goals as a musician?

I want to be THE Heldentenor of this generation. I will accept nothing less than the ultimate prize. That said, the ultimate prize in this industry is simply being asked to perform a role, and then being hired back by that company.

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

Absolutely! I am STILL taking voice lessons, just because we develop habits in our singing that shouldn’t necessarily be there. Just last month, I got to feel what a “properly stacked column of air” felt like for this particular instrument, for the first time ever. I have been taking voice lessons for 22 years now. Either I am a slow learner, or the process really is that unique to each individual.

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

Now that I have that feeling of the stacked air within me, this phrase makes so much more sense now. VOMIT THE SOUND OUT!!! – Meg Stecker-Thorson

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument

During my time in University, I took Piano 201 four separate times. I failed it each time. After the fourth time, I approached the head of the piano department asking for private instruction, since this course was holding me back. She informed me that class piano works for 90% of the students there. Make it work. It’s ok if things don’t work out right now. We all have seasons.

What is your biggest musical achievement?

That is a tossup between singing in Juneau, Alaska with my dear friend, David Cangelosi, and performing Tristan und Isolde in Manhattan. Not only did my own mother get to see me perform just off Broadway, but it was her first visit to NYC ever.

Favorite thing about teaching?

I love when a shy student walks into my room for the first and final time. It truly is magical to take this thing we were given at birth, peel back all of the years of tempering the voice and the mannerisms that have taken root, and witness the confidence boost on the other side.

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

If you are not enjoying the process, take a step back, breathe, and get out of your way. It is about the journey, not how perfect it is. Let the perfections and imperfections lie where they fall.

Personal music projects:

I am on a longterm sudy of Tristan (Tristan und Isolde), and Siegfried (Siegfried/Gotterdammerung), two roles, three 8.5 hour operas. I also have this dream to take one of Siegfried’s or Siegmund’s arias on my YouTube channel and create a deathcore backing track. Other than that, I am seeking representation to carry this voice over into Europe.


Philly Music Lessons specializes in connecting students of all ages and skill levels with great teachers in the Philadelphia and Main Line areas.