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switching from Classical Voice to MT, need advice

lyricmezzomomlyricmezzomom 18 replies4 threads Junior Member
Posting for my daughter, will tell her about this board just found. Daughter is lyric soprano (with good strong chest voice), doesn't belt. Experience in high school musicals and with show choir (simple jazz dancing), as well as Irish step dancing when real little. She wants to switch to either a combo program like Illinois's lyric theatre, or a program with good vocal teaching and coaching. Want to stay in middle plains states (base now is Missouri), would consider mid-south (TN, OK), or SE (strong ties to Florida, gets in state tuition there as well).

Her vocals are amazing for her age, 19. Would have a great career in Classical were she to continue, but she LOVES MT and says although she's great at Classical, she doesn't love doing it.

I would love program suggestions as she needs to "step on it" to get apps and/or pre-screens in. What programs to avoid (ie, lack of good vocal teaching/coaches/overly dance focus, or will force her to try and belt; she should stay lyric/legit, it's her strength and will get her the jobs in the future).

What programs would be good for her? (And we don't want a program that only mounts one musical a year because the strength is dance, but given time constraints and how new this is to us, need help.)

She will have four semesters of voice, theory, piano and tons of GE classes including foreign languages, so is already well-geared for a BM type MT program.

Thanks for any and all help!!! :)
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Replies to: switching from Classical Voice to MT, need advice

  • ElizaDoolittleElizaDoolittle 22 replies2 threads Junior Member
    It sounds like you are looking for BM programs. Baldwin Wallace, NYU and Oklahoma City University come to mind, but BW auditions typically fill up very quickly so there's no time to waste if you are interested. The good news is they don't require a prescreen. NYU Steinhardt does require a prescreen. I don't know much about OCU's requirements. Good luck!
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  • lyricmezzomomlyricmezzomom 18 replies4 threads Junior Member
    Thanks, Eliza! We are aware of those programs, but they are far reaches I believe as far as acceptance and the cost. I know Illinois U is on the list, thinking of Missouri State, Nebraska Wesleyan, Illinois Wesleyan. Also, wanted information about Unified auditions as I see Oklahoma University and FSU on the list there, but wasn't sure if that included the MT track at Unified, and if the pre-screen was still needed, or these were just walk in auditions or what. I know FSU has the BM track, but I also hear it's a "dancer" school, so not sure what they look for, and know they only take 4 girls each year, and she's a transfer so not sure how that pans out either.
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  • speezagmomspeezagmom 376 replies1 threads Member
    Without looking, I'm pretty sure that Arizona State and James Madison U are both BM-MT as well.
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  • stagedoormamastagedoormama 818 replies9 threads Member
    @lyricmezzomom Unifieds are not something you can just attend. You must complete the audition and application requirements for each individual school (some requiring pre-screens to be invited), in order to secure an audition slot. It is getting late in the process, so I would research very quickly and get those apps (and prescreens where necessary) in so you have a chance at still securing an audition spot before they are filled. Best of luck!
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  • suledamosuledamo 25 replies1 threads Junior Member
    My dd sounds very similar to yours....excels at classical and does enjoy it, but her true heart lies in MT, and she had minimal dance training. So last year my dd applied to many BFA MT program as well as some BM programs like Belmont, Steinhardt, U of Illinois Lyric, FSU, Arizona State, and OKCU. I am sure there are others you can find that weren't on our list, like James Madison and BW mentioned above.

    Of these schools FSU and Steinhardt required pre-screens last year, but I know some previously non pre-screen schools have added them this year, so double check the requirements for each school. I would strongly advise you to get the apps and prescreens in ASAP! Time slots fill incredibly fast!

    As far as unifieds, OKCU does not go to unifieds for MT or VP, only on campus auditions. Same situation with FSU. Actually, of the ones I listed above that we applied to I think the only one that did go to Chicago unifieds last year was U of Illinois and they were only there 2 days.


    Best of luck!
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  • lyricmezzomomlyricmezzomom 18 replies4 threads Junior Member
    Thanks, suledamo! I would love to hear more about your dd journey and where she is and how that is all going. :)
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  • GloriaVaughnGloriaVaughn 530 replies1 threads Member
    Millikin. Excellent MT and choir. IWU has 17% less freshman this year. Last spring they announce there budget cuts. Somewhere here I posted budget cuts.
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  • KatMTKatMT 4152 replies71 threadsCollege Rep Senior Member
    JMU has both a BM in Music with a Music Theatre Emphasis through the School of Music, and a BA is Musical Theatre through the School of Theatre and Dance.

    PM me, and I am happy to describe the differences and similarities. There is crossover at JMU between the 2 programs.
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  • lyricmezzomomlyricmezzomom 18 replies4 threads Junior Member
    I already know all of this, thanks. By being 'forced' to belt, I meant getting a bad teacher who doesn't know how to use the throat muscles correctly. I'm a musician, too, not just my daughter, and I would say that, sadly, both in popular styles and Classical, truly good voice teachers are the exception, not the rule. Just because someone can do it, doesn't mean they know how to teach it, and the voice is the most difficult to teach (more than dancing, acting, or any other instrument).
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  • CoachCCoachC 795 replies29 threads Member
    edited November 7
    Look for schools with voice teachers like Matt whose practice is based in the proven science of singing anatomy & physiology. The teachers need to know what happens at the level of the vocal folds and laryngeal muscles themselves, what happens with the pharyngeal muscles, what the articulators needs to do and not do, and what resonance can and cannot do. As a speech pathologist who focuses in vocal injury rehab, I can attest that there are very few "expert" teachers who actually know the vocal mechanism scientifically, even in NYC. There are still well-known teachers here who either call every vocal difficulty "nodes" (UGH!) when they're usually simply hearing muscle tension, and others who diminish the impact of serious vocal injury and tell their singers "you're fine". The teacher should have a background in MUSICAL THEATRE voice pedagogy. I have seen many young singers who have been egregiously misinformed (to the level of negligence) and psychologically damaged by vociferious classical teachers who claim they know MT - I'm talking Juilliard grad-level voice degrees. It sounds like you have unfortunately experienced the same. Nothing makes me more frustrated than that as an educator and speech pathologist.
    edited November 7
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  • lyricmezzomomlyricmezzomom 18 replies4 threads Junior Member
    Thanks so much. If you want to PM me with some names, that would be great. DD has a fabulous Classical voice with great training (second generation down from Margaret Harshaw). It's healthy and it's wonderful to the ears. She wants to change to MT, and I'm very concerned that someone is going to get their hands on her and ruin her. Although she wants to learn to belt, given how mature and what a great teacher she already is herself (she teaches, has 27 students), sometimes I think she might be able to teach herself a healthy belt if she had a good part-time coach.

    But I know the MT programs (or better ones) have MT vocal faculty, and the not as good ones seem to have the gamut between no one, or faculty who have Classical degrees trying to teach MT, and all kinds of combinations thereof. The only true reassurance I have is that she is very aware of her own instrument, knows the difference between fatigue and unhealthy and/or damaging, at least when it comes to the Classical approach of using the throat muscles and long vowels. Let's hope that knowledge stays put and is not turned to ruin. She is just 19.....

    We don't have the money for one of the top tier programs (which might get us a better vocal teacher, no guarantee), nor do I think she will be competitive top tier not having the dance background and a gorgeous lyric Classical voice. She could walk in to a top Classical conservatory grad school audition right now and be just fine, but MT.....?

    At this point I would even consider having her just finish a BA somewhere (she has about 90 credit hours, a combo of Gen Ed, languages for opera, and the typical BM Classical Voice hours) and just get a good MT coach privately, dance lessons, and do summer stock and regional work, idk.

    As far as what I have personally experienced, nothing too bad. I was trained Classically, Baylor and NEC. However, I know there are a lot of advanced degrees running around who can't teach worth a flip, possibly even harmful.
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  • VoiceTeacherVoiceTeacher 308 replies25 threads Member
    Just because someone can do it, doesn't mean they know how to teach it, and the voice is the most difficult to teach (more than dancing, acting, or any other instrument).

    Sad but 100% true. Glad you are on top of it, your daughter is lucky to have you on her side.

    ~VT
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  • TwelfthmanTwelfthman 125 replies38 threads Junior Member
    Interesting discussion @VoiceTeacher, @CoachC and @lyricmezzomom

    So is the quality of voice training among MT programs fairly uneven (i.e., a point to distinguish among programs) and do some MT programs include a teacher/s who may not help students progress or worse could possibly inadvertently damage a voice?)

    How does the layman ascertain which programs are staffed with all quality voice teachers (i.e., those with singing anatomy & physiology training and musical theatre voice pedagogy)?
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  • WDWMomWDWMom 67 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @Twelfthman - you ask.

    My training is in musical theatre and vocal performance as well. I have taught voice lessons for over 25 years. So, while it would be easier for me to hear/know problems in teaching, you can do this as well.

    I suggest even asking schools if you and your daughter could sit quietly in on a couple of voice lessons or workshops with a voice teacher to see what both of you think of their training. I literally just said no to a school my daughter was considering after sitting in on a voice lesson at the school. The student had some quirky (and dangerous) tension issues going on, and when the teacher sung back to her, the teacher had the same issues. I spoke to my daughter's classical teacher about this, and she had heard the same about the person as well....the exact same issues. That was enough.

    So, ask to sit in on a lesson, and then ask around. See if professionals you know have heard of these people, and any feedback they may have. And judge for yourself.
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  • TwelfthmanTwelfthman 125 replies38 threads Junior Member
    @WDWMom Thank you for this suggestion.

    If fortunate enough to have more than one offer, I will encourage her / us to do this... the concern is, I don't believe we'll be able to judge any potential "quirky (and dangerous) tension issues" and ultimately whether there are really issues. With your training and experience, you are equipped to do this.

    And even if you assess a coach here or there, it doesn't mean that all the coaches would pass with flying colors. If I were a school, I'd be steering admitted students to sit in the sessions of the best voice teachers.

    Of all the skill components, vocals seems to be the area where health is most important (dance technique too but less of a concern) and I have limited ability to judge the training students will receive.
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  • WDWMomWDWMom 67 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @Twelfthman You may not feel as equipped to judge, but I really think you are selling yourself short. Your daughter can probably tell quite a bit as well. You could also see if you could bring someone more qualified with you to see a production of a show at one of the schools (if they are close enough) and get their opinion of the performers at a school.

    We are also worrying about dance at any school. My D has danced since she was a toddler, and therefore has had many years to rack up MANY injuries, some which are now chronic. She has been super-picky about checking with schools to make sure they take dance classes on sprung floors. Thankfully, most do...but, a few have not. Dancing daily on non-sprung floors is a non-starter for her....she will just not be able to make it for 4 years.

    I wish I could fly out there and help you :-). Just use your (and your D's instincts), and gather as much information as you can.

    Best of Luck!!!
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