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I love to teach! Music has been the center of my life since I was a child, and I am highly skilled in that area, but I am not limited to purely musical pursuits. I try to keep on top of the quickly changing world of technology, as it provides tools for us to interact with the world and keep growing and learning about ourselves and each other.
I have been playing the piano since the age of seven, and have been performing professionally as a singer and instrumentalist for over 30 years, in the classical, musical theatre, rock, and jazz genres. I am an accompanist, pit musician, conductor and piano instructor as well as a voice teacher, performance and audition coach. My music theatre direction credits span 25 years and I have Off-Broadway credits in New York City, as well as numerous regional credits in the USA and abroad. My private piano teaching studio in Portland, Oregon, maintained a roster of 30 students between 1993 and 1998. I work with children as young as five years of age as well as adults!
Cooking can be as simple as reading a recipe, but there are techniques that are assumed, such as the difference between whip, stir, and fold in, saute and simmer. Do you know how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon, or how many tablespoons are in a quarter cup? I can teach you how to make a perfect hard-boiled egg, and take the mystery out of baking a red velvet cake. Vegetarian and vegan cooking is a specialty of mine, and I also do some Indian dishes.
I excel in music theory, both in classical and jazz. I placed out of my Theory sequence for Hunter College's music program. I work as an orchestrator and arranger, for musical theatre productions and cabaret shows.
I teach piano from beginning through intermediate skill level, ages 5 through adult. It is never too late to learn! I take a balanced approach, by including theory and technique with learning literature for the piano. I am a professional accompanist, music director and vocal coach, with experience conducting vocal and instrumental ensembles. I began my study at age 7, and play classical, musical theatre, jazz and gospel.
I have been trained in acting and drama and have taken classes in public speaking from Toastmasters. The difference in these two approaches is that in acting, the words are written for the speaker, and in public speaking the speaker is speaking from their own words, sometimes extemporaneously. In acting, I have learned dialects, and accents, and have a very good ear for picking up and teaching new accents, as well as accent removal. The process while as straight-forward as the substitution of vowel shapes and articulating new consonants not familiar with the native language, can be difficult, but is definitely achievable. We will work with written examples as well as recordings.
Building vocabulary is the foundation of good reading. In my writing, I strive for precision in my expression, trying to state what is necessary in the fewest words possible. Learning to read carefully and critically has helped me achieve these goals, as my vocabulary is strengthened by seeing other writers' choices.
I work as an audition coach, privately, and led a workshop at Hunter College to aid students in preparing for musical theatre auditions. The workshop helped music majors be prepared for the theatrical portion of the audition for Threepenny Opera, and theatre majors for the musical portion of the audition of the same show. I was the associate music director of this show.
My music direction credits span 25 years, and include working with children as young as age 6, as well as Off Broadway productions.
I have a BA in Music with a minor in Theatre from Hunter College, and studied audition preparation with Clista Townsend.
I particularly enjoy helping an actor prepare monologues for auditions. I help the actor make choices about character, intention, and help them maintain their visual focus. As I have been in the position of casting many times, I also present some scenarios the actor is likely to encounter in an audition, and help them prepare for these.
The most effective presentations of a theatrical monologue are made when the actor has a clear idea of whom he/she is talk to, and why. While there are answers to these questions that work better than others, there are really no right or wrong answers. Clarity is the most important.
In auditioning, an energetic and fun monologue is frequently the best choice, as you must consider that the panel is very likely seeing many auditioners before and after you.
Singing lessons and vocal coaching are two different things. I do both.
For vocal coaching, I work mainly on interpretation for the purpose of auditions and performances. Part of this process is helping a singer choose good material for their voice and type, and for the audition or performance. We also work on story, moment before, and rehearsing a song as monologue.
When teaching singing, I work with the singer on establishing solid, healthy technique, expanding the vocal range, and making the production of sound as effortless as possible. This is achieved through vocalization exercises in the beginning, and literature is introduced early in the process. I encourage singers to select their own music as well as my recommendations.
For singers younger than 15 or 16, who have not yet physically developed, we can only work on establishing good habits of posture, breath support and begin working on phrasing, musicianship and interpretation. The vocal mechanism will change as the singer grows and matures, and serious physical work will need to be undone and redone as the instrument changes, and the body (vocal folds, larynx, lungs, diaphragm, hard and soft palate) matures.
I have been designing my own website since 1996, beginning with a WYSIWYG web editor published by Netscape. Since that time I have moved to doing basic HTML coding and have settled on using Dreamweaver as my web editing software as it allows me to use a combination of the visual layout as well as raw coding. I also appreciate the user-friendly Java scripting application and the seamless integration with the Fireworks graphics program. I have been contracted as a web designer by a couple churches, bands and small companies. As this is not a primary business for me, I don't actively seek the work, but I enjoy teaching others how to fulfill their goals in creating their own sites.
Talented Piano Teacher — Brenna is a great music teacher and her knowledge of piano theory is very impressive. She always comes full of energy and teaches with great enthusiasm. ...
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