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Please help me with graduate schools and teachers for a young dramatic soprano

April 11 2012 at 7:16 PM
  (Login sopranodelacruz)
NFCS Member

 
Hi Everyone!

I am a young dramatic soprano researching for Graduate Schools. I would love to have your input on each school and teacher. If any of you do not feel comfortable with sharing information on this thread, you can email me at: jdelacruz@knigths.ucf.edu. I have spoken to my current teacher about Grad schools and he said I should look for teachers who has a lot knowledge in my rep. I really want to study with someone who is very technical, so if any of these teachers listed below are more like vocal coaches than a technician, please let me know! Thanks!

1. Mannes New School of Music:
Ruth Falcon and Beth Roberts-Sebek

2. Northwestern University:
Sunny Joy Langton, W. Stephen Smith, and Theresa Brancaccio

3. Indiana University:
Andreas Poulimenos

4. New England Conservatory:
Patricia Misslin and D'Anna Fortunato

5. Curtis Institute of Music:
Marlena Malas and Joan Patenaude-Yarnell

6. Rice University:
Stephen King

7. Manhattan School of Music:
Marlena Malas, Joan Patenaude-Yarnell, Cynthia Hoffmann and Patricia Misslin

8. Academy of Vocal Arts:
Bill Schuman

9. Florida State University:
Shirley Close

10. Southern Methodist University:
Barbara Hill Moore

11. Oklahoma City University:
Larry Keller

More importantly, I need information on Manhattan School of Music and Curtis Institute of Music since I have same teachers from two different schools


    
This message has been edited by sopranodelacruz on Apr 13, 2012 12:02 PM
This message has been edited by sopranodelacruz on Apr 11, 2012 9:52 PM
This message has been edited by sopranodelacruz on Apr 11, 2012 8:43 PM
This message has been edited by sopranodelacruz on Apr 11, 2012 8:42 PM


 
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Anonymous
(Login amb1110)

Ruth & Beth

April 11 2012, 9:04 PM 

I can only speak on behalf of #1 because they are my teachers!

I am also a young dramatic soprano. My technique has improved so much with them. Ruth & Beth teach dramatic sopranos and have helped me understand the importance of engaging my back and ribs and my entire body to support the voice that I have. Nothing is manipulated or feels unnatural when singing. I could on and on, but there is something more important to discover.

I think what is more important than this list is to choose your top 3-5 teachers (or recommendations) and schedule voice lessons with them. You will find who you connect with the best, which will be very important for your growth. Take the feedback and use it to guide your decision, but also schedule lessons with these teachers as well.

Best of luck! (From another young dramatic soprano).

 
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(Login sopranodelacruz)
NFCS Member

Re: Ruth & Beth

April 11 2012, 10:19 PM 

Thank you amb1110! Ruth Falcon and Beth Roberts-Sebek are for sure my top choices. They sound perfect! When I am back in New York (I have family in Queens), I will ask for a trial lesson with them. Thanks for the advice!

May I ask about your experience at Mannes? Are you an undergrad or a graduate?

 
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Anonymous
(Login amb1110)

Didn't Go to Mannes

April 13 2012, 8:18 PM 

I didn't attend Mannes. I went to Penn State University, received scholarhips and assistantship (for masters). I studied with dramatic soprano Jennifer Trost. If you are looking to save money for a state school, and get TONS of stage experience? PSU will work well for you. Tons of personal attention, many performance opportunities, especially for solo singing and opera performances.

I study with Ruth & Beth now privately.

 
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(Login sopranodelacruz)
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Re: Didn't Go to Mannes

April 15 2012, 10:22 AM 

Unfortunately, my teacher prefer me to not go to Penn State because of multiple people's experience have not been positive lately. Thanks again amb1110!

 
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Brian Lee
(Login doheaven)
NFCS Member

Double check your names

April 11 2012, 9:34 PM 

Hi,

You probably won't be calling these people by their first names, but make sure you check how they're spelled. W. Stephen Smith's name definitely does not have an "A" in it and I don't think Mr. King's does either. I only have personal experience with Smith and Poulimenos. Both are good, but I'd give the nod to Smith for hard-core technical work.

cheers,
Brian


***************************************************
''It is easy to say that such and such a
singer has sold his soul, when really we are
only annoyed that Satan has never offered
us as high a price.''

- William Vennard

 
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(Login sopranodelacruz)
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Re: Double check your names

April 11 2012, 10:30 PM 

Oops! Thanks Brian. I've doubled checked the names and fixed everything. Thanks for the info happy.gif

 
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Anonymous
(Login dm25)
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Re: Double check your names

April 12 2012, 12:36 AM 

Poulimenos is a hell of a teacher. Can't recommend him enough.

Avoid Shirley Close.

 
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(Login sopranodelacruz)
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Re: Double check your names

April 12 2012, 1:00 AM 

A friend of mine told me that she is great... Is she that bad?

 
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Anonymous
(Login boltoht)
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re:Shirley Close

April 12 2012, 11:44 AM 

I disagree with this assessment entirely. I think she is a superior teacher. Perhaps this person had problems with her?

 
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Anonymous
(Login dm25)
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Re: re:Shirley Close

April 12 2012, 2:27 PM 

I have no issues with her personally. I just know quite a few singers from my time at FSU who she either ruined or who left her studio because they felt that she was doing them harm. If you've done well with her, congrats. Just further proof that just because someone doesn't work for one person doesn't mean they won't work for everyone.

At any rate, if you can, you should be taking lessons with these people before you make any decisions rather than trusting the opinions on some anonymous board.

 
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(Login sopranodelacruz)
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Re: re:Shirley Close

April 12 2012, 10:22 PM 

I may not have a lesson with her anyway because my teacher has told me that a friend of his came from FSU and didn't enjoy his time (and I've met his friend), but I want to see for myself since I have a friend there.

I understand your point about getting lessons with these teachers, but I am not using the forum to make my final decision. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to pay for lessons for about 14 teachers (which I am sure they are not cheap) on top of transportation and hotel fees. The point of the thread is for me to narrow down my list a bit because as you see my list is extremely long and there is no way I am auditioning for that many schools. I am going to have trial lessons with my final list of teachers anyway because in the end of the day, it is about the connection between student and teacher. BUT if there is a teacher that is terrible for my voice type, I want to know before I spend tons of money going out of state and having a painful lesson. I am just trying to be smart about my choices and want to know people's opinion about the schools and their teachers.

Anyway, I really appreciate your input! Thanks happy.gif

 
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Anonymous
(Login boltoht)
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Re: re:Shirley Close

April 12 2012, 11:27 PM 

I really think you should try and take as many lessons with as many people as possible. I've studied with several people on this list and I have friends who've studied with the other half of the list and I can honestly say that each one of these people (even the "best") has a negative tag attached to their name and to their teaching. I don't know of a single teacher on this list who has only produced great singers and has a record of 100% satisfaction from them. At the end of the day you can ask as many people as you like but it really comes down to what works for you. If you have the resources decide for yourself. Try not to be sucked into the hype but to go in with an open mind.


 
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(Login sopranodelacruz)
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Re: re:Shirley Close

April 13 2012, 9:55 AM 

I will make the time to do so at the same time I am auditioning at the schools. Like I said, I want to make sure that I do not have a teacher who harms the voice on my list. It really doesn't hurt to read to opinions about teachers and schools as well. I really would love information about the schools as well though...

 
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Anne
(Login annedahlin)
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Re: sample lessons

April 13 2012, 3:47 AM 

For what it's worth, I had two sample lessons when I was applying to grad school (at Houston and at Mannes) and didn't pay for either of them. I don't know if that's typical, but that was my experience.

 
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(Login sopranodelacruz)
NFCS Member

Re: sample lessons

April 13 2012, 9:44 AM 

Really? That is really cool. I think I may contact them and go to new york for a couple of weeks anyway since I have family there. Mannes is my top choice (my list is in order of where I want to go the most).

 
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Anonymous
(Login operaluvr)
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Stephen King

April 12 2012, 9:36 AM 

He is an amazing technician. He knows how to work with just about any kind of voice and his past students are living proof of it (he has a number of dramatic voices in his studio right now too). 3/9 of the Met Finalists this year were his students, including the winner Janai Brugger. Can't recommend him enough.

 
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Brian Lee
(Login doheaven)
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I'd love to see his teaching

April 12 2012, 3:31 PM 

I've heard a lot of good things about Mr. King and his students are certainly doing well. Definitely one to check out.


***************************************************
''It is easy to say that such and such a
singer has sold his soul, when really we are
only annoyed that Satan has never offered
us as high a price.''

- William Vennard

 
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(Login sopranodelacruz)
NFCS Member

Re: Stephen King

April 12 2012, 10:25 PM 

Thanks operaluvr! This is exactly what I want to know because I am aware of a couple of his students (especially Janai Brugger...so amazing!)

 
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(Login annedahlin)
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Brancaccio

April 12 2012, 12:03 PM 

I studied with Theresa Brancaccio at Northwestern and I loved her. I'm not sure if she's specifically good for dramatic sopranos, but she teaches really solid technique and takes care of her students' voices. Feel free to e-mail me.

 
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JEM is my name
(Login JEMismyname)
NFCS Member

What type of singer are you?? (not fach)

April 13 2012, 9:43 AM 

Before you shorten your list, you need to know what type of singer you are. I don't mean "dramatic soprano." Many of the teachers you have listed have gotten excellent results... with the right type of students. Think of these questions:

1. Are you someone who needs to be criticized and told that you're not good enough, does this make you sing better? Or, are you someone who gets more results with someone holding your hand and gently coaxing it out of you?

2. Are you someone who comes into lessons with music fully prepared, so that you can "work your technique" into them, or do you need help with the musical styles/languages, etc (I realize a coach does this, but not all places offer enough coachings to the younger singers).

3. Are you prepared for some of these teachers to dispute what fach soprano you are?? Some might. Do you want someone to work WITH you, or to DECIDE FOR YOU?

4. Do you work in anatomy, imagery, or a mix of both? Do you already feel you have a solid technique and just need polishing, or do you need to start at square one?

I have watched singers from several of the teachers listed soar to the top, but I have watched just as many crumble, lose their top, or simply be asked to leave the studio after one or two semesters if it isn't working out. I'm not trying to steer you in any one direction, but IMO, to accomplish the most in the shortest amount of time vocally, you need to pick a teacher based on YOUR needs and not the roster of the studio.

 
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(Login sopranodelacruz)
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Re: What type of singer are you?? (not fach)

April 13 2012, 11:26 AM 

Thanks! I have a question about the Jane Eaglen. What type technique does she usually go over? Is she the type that works with the student individually or covers the same technique with everyone in the studio, if you know what I mean. Also, how is the school's opera program?

 
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JEM is my name
(Login JEMismyname)
NFCS Member

Re: What type of singer are you?? (not fach)

April 13 2012, 10:18 PM 

Not really sure. I don't study with her, but did sit in on a few of her lessons during her Wagner intensive to hear a few singers. She is a delightful person with a great sense of humour, but very honest.

I studied with teachers from Mannes and MSM. Actually Ruth and Beth were my very first teachers. I loved them both dearly as people, and they have many successes. However, I lean more towards being an instinctive singer, and for them to try to get me to adjust tongue, jaw, neck, squat, arch back, etc... ended up to be more trouble than it was worth.

I also studied with Trish at MSM, and liked her knowledge a lot, and her as a person a lot, but not the way she delivered her knowledge to me.

My personal best teacher I ever had was Gail Robinson. But, sadly, she passed away a few years ago in her early 60's.

 
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(Login sopranodelacruz)
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Re: What type of singer are you?? (not fach)

April 15 2012, 10:19 AM 

I think I may look into her and talk to my teacher about her to see what he thinks. Does Patricia Misslin only have one way of teaching?

 
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(Login JEMismyname)
NFCS Member

Jane Eaglen?

April 13 2012, 9:46 AM 

Just reread your post... I realize that Baldwin Wallace isn't a big name school, but if you are a true dramatic, you'll have years of time to kill anyway, right? lol She is worth checking out...

 
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(Login sopranodelacruz)
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Re: Jane Eaglen?

April 13 2012, 10:01 AM 

Hm, I will check her out. Ugh, don't remind me, but I am a little bit older than my class so I do not have that much time (age limits for YAPs and such). Thanks!

 
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Anonymous
(Login pinksoprano)
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I would be cautious...

April 19 2012, 12:58 AM 

Not that she isn't a wonderful teacher (I've heard so many great things) BUT, I've heard that she's had some health issues and hasn't been teaching much

 
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Anonymous
(Login songbird78)
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Re: I would be cautious...

April 19 2012, 1:23 AM 

As far as I know, that school doesn't have a graduate program yet unless they JUST got one..

 
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(Login musettaminx)
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Larry Wade Keller

April 13 2012, 10:46 AM 

I'm a 21 year old big-voiced soprano (there ain't no label being put on this voice yet) who studies with Larry Wade Keller. I can succinctly and briefly say that he is a genius and probably the best kept secret of vocal pedagogy, but I'd be glad to go into details privately.

Feel free to email me with any questions you have.

 
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(Login sopranodelacruz)
NFCS Member

Re: Larry Wade Keller

April 13 2012, 11:27 AM 

Omg thank you! I am very curious about him happy.gif

 
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(Login musettaminx)
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:)

April 13 2012, 11:30 AM 

You're welcome! Just click my name and it should link you directly to my email.

 
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(Login sopranodelacruz)
NFCS Member

Re: :)

April 13 2012, 11:35 AM 

done!

 
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Molly
(Login mollymezzo)
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Larry Keller

November 3 2012, 5:35 PM 

I didn't study with him when I went to OCU, but my roommate and best friend was a big-voice soprano and absolutely loved him. Actually, I never heard any complaints from anybody in his studio. His singers are all healthy, and well trained. I would also check out William Nield Christensen (Dr. Bill) when you look at OCU. I am a big-mezzo and he did wonders with fixing some major technical issues while I studied with him.

Hope that helps!

 
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(Login sopranodelacruz)
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Re: Please help me with graduate schools and teachers for a young dramatic soprano

April 13 2012, 11:56 AM 

Does anyone has information on Manhattan School of Music and Curtis Institute of Music? I have same teachers from two different schools happy.gif

 
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(Login Houndentenor)
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Some advice

April 13 2012, 2:30 PM 


This isn't necessarily from your questions but it's what I would hope someone would tell me if I were your age making your decision.

1. Make sure the school is big voice friendly, not just the teacher. You want to do something in your two years getting your MM besides sing a recital and take classes. If their idea of a production is a baroque opera in a black box theater, you might not get many performance opportunities.

2. Don't borrow too much money. It sounds like you have relatives to live with in Queens? If so, that makes NYC doable for you. Otherwise it's probably just too expensive. (Most people have trouble earning enough to live there without going to school full time on top of that!)

3. If you aren't castable in a role your first year, take a year off and get your technique together. It's fine to need polishing in grad school, but a technique overhaul should happen before you get there.

4. Consult with any teacher you are considering studying with. That's the most important decision (with which school being a close second). 2 years of misery in the wrong studio spinning your wheels is a huge mistake, especially if you are borrowing money to do it. Don't.


Houndentenor

"I spent most of my childhood being terrified by the question 'Am I normal?'. I'm relieved now that I know for sure that I am not." -Tom Limoncelli


 
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(Login sopranodelacruz)
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Re: Some advice

April 13 2012, 7:57 PM 

Number one is actually one of my biggest concerns because I want stage time so that I could improve. I have tons and tons of relatives in New York so where I will live is not a concern. Thanks for the advice!

 
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Anonymous
(Login musick_d)
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Re: Some advice

April 15 2012, 7:37 PM 

I went to MSM and studied with Joan Patenaude-Yarnell and now work privately with Beth Roberts. First, if you are looking for stage experience, you may not get it at MSM. The opera studio has a limited number of slots and there are way more singers than slots! Also, I don't know if the rep they do will be suited for a bigger voice.

Many teachers work at more than one school. I think Juilliard and MSM share about half of the same faculty (including voice and instrumental teachers). Joan only goes to Curtis one day a week and all of her students have lessons on that day. She also went to performances and tried to see her students whenever they sang somewhere.

Regarding the MSM teachers you are looking at....Joan is a great teacher, but you need to have a lesson and consultation with her to see if she's interested in working with you. She will also have an idea as to which school is a better fit. Cynthia Hoffman had some students that sang really well. She is big into Alexander technique. I took a class with her, but never studied privately. I knew a student that worked with her at Juilliard, but was not interested in working with her at MSM. This is just a feeling I had, but it seemed to me that she played favorites and in class, sometimes she made comments that were more like digs at the people singing. Again, these are my feelings and someone who has worked with her will be better able to talk about her teaching.

I've heard great things about Pat Misslin and Marlena Malas, but have never worked with them.

My experience with Joan was, for the most part, good. I improved a lot the first year I worked with her. The second year, I refined things a bit, but the third, I just sort of stayed put - not getting worse, but not improving. I will say that Joan does not screw up her students voices. There are some teachers at MSM that I would avoid because they (in my opinion) ruin voices. None of the teacher on your list are among them, however. As I said, Joan was a good teacher, but in hindsight, she thought I was merely an 'ok' student. I wasn't a favorite that she would get behind. It's important for your voice teacher to go to bat for you. You need to study with someone who will do that.

I've never worked with Ruth, but hope to this summer. I think Beth is awesome. My first lesson/consultation with her was so helpful and she really zoned in on exactly what I needed to do to go to the next level. We worked mostly on technique (no rep, just vocal exercises) for about 6 months. In the past 2 years, I have only had about 6 lessons. Not only am I able to maintain good technique, I've actually improved upon what I've learned in my lessons. Beth's teaching style really works for me and she has given me the tools to help myself become a better singer. Her personality is very upbeat, positive and friendly. I saw Dawn Upshaw give a masterclass once and she and Beth reminded me of each other.

About MSM...okay, the name is great, but as I said, you may not get a lot of performing experience there. The experience you have at MSM will be what you make of it. There are great classes and teachers that you can work with, even if you're not in the opera studio. Mignon Dunn teaches an opera rep class that is fantastic, Ken Cooper is great with Baroque music, Gait Sirguey and Ken Merrill teach ensemble classes and the diction teachers are wonderful. There are many other great teachers there. I don't know if I would recommend MSM. If you have a teacher that absolutely wants to work with and the school will give you some kind of scholarship (even a very small one), that's a good sign that you will be involved in some way. If not, you're taking on a lot of debt, but may not get the performing experience you need.

If you need a lot of technique work and have family in NY, maybe you should consider working privately with whichever teacher you choose for one year and then applying to school. You could work and be able to pay for lessons and coachings and when school begins, you would be ahead of many of the other students that are still working out technical issues. In hind sight, I wish I had done that.

Whatever you decide, best of luck to you!

 
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Anonymous
(Login sopranodelacruz)
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Re: Some advice

April 16 2012, 12:33 PM 

Hi musick_d! Thank you so much! This information is indeed wonderful. Like I said before, I do worry about my voice being too big for the operas that a school maybe producing and I may not even get accepted to these schools because of that fact.

I do not have any pleasures to attend Juilliard because their program is not as good as it use to be and a friend have said that they are more focused on art songs than opera. It sounds like Joan is only good for "polishing."

I wasn't considering MSM before until a friend of mine told me how great the school is and she was recently accepted to it recently (I am not sure if she received money but Joan said she would take her if she gets accepted so I think that maybe that is something). She really liked Joan when she had the trial lesson with her, so I thought I should give her and MSM a chance. Also, the fact that many of the teachers I am interested are from other schools made me want to look at it more closely.

Honestly, you are not the first person who has personally told me that MSM is what you take from it. I think I will audition for it anyway and see what they think of me (including trial lessons with the teachers that I am interested in).

Thanks again, this really confirmed my instincts and decision.

 
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Anonymous
(Login boltoht)
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Re: Some advice

April 16 2012, 2:27 PM 

Since you have family here I absolutely agree with the above poster on just moving here and studying. This is the wisest decision b/c then you can get in on a studio without having to fork out big bucks.

I have a friend who is a very famous singer right now who moved to NY several years ago, did not finish her master's degree and just came here to study. She is singing all over the world in prestigious houses and she will tell you that she felt the master's degree was a waste of time b/c she wanted to learn how to sing. She took as many lessons as she could afford a week for 3 years and is one of the best singers I've ever heard in my life. I WISH to heck I had done this. I admire her so much. Her path may not have been traditional but I can assure you it more than paid off.

If you are going to take out 40k for a year to study at some school wouldn't you rather use that money to just take lessons and coachings and tailor your education to your needs? You can sing at small companies in NY, go to all the guild lectures at the Met, attend all types of concerts, operas, etc. You could be taking 2 or 3 lessons a week or you could do your master's and take one. Also, unless you plan on teaching what's the point of a master's? If it's to continue learning or to have opportunities then do you really need a master's?

Just food for thought. I wish you the absolute best.

 
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(Login sopranodelacruz)
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Re: Some advice

April 17 2012, 5:50 PM 

This option is indeed my back up plan if I do not get into a school with scholarships. If I receive enough money, it would cost more to not go to grad school than to not go. Thank you for your advice!

 
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Anonymous
(Login mezzomaid)
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Joan P-Y and Stephen K

April 18 2012, 2:56 PM 

Joan Patenaude Yarnell is the reason I can sing. She is so fantastic! I am not a dramatic soprano but I know that she has taught some and they are doing very well.

 
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(Login sopranodelacruz)
NFCS Member

Re: Joan P-Y and Stephen K

April 18 2012, 9:51 PM 

Thanks mezzomaid! I will consider taking a lesson with her once I get to NY this summer. What are your thoughts on Stephen King? Is he difficult to schedule a trial lesson with him?

 
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