How long have you been doing what you do and how did you come to be a Voice Teacher?

I have been teaching and performing for over thirty years. My passion for performing arts started when I was a small child, growing up in Santa Barbara, Calif. I studied piano, performed in musical theater, and organized all the neighborhood kids into shows that I would write, direct and star in.

In my twenties, I attended theater school, and began leading drama programs in schools and theaters. But it was when I first stepped on stage at a coffeehouse to sing my original songs that I felt I’d found my real calling.  I began to take every opportunity I got to sing – whether it was for clubs, bars, festivals, schools, weddings – you name it!

I went back to school to earn a Masters from Lesley University, a school that specializes in arts and education, and studied Voice and Jazz at New England Conservatory (with well-known jazz singer Dominique Eade and the legendary Ran Blake, among others) as part of that program. Soon after, I landed a six-month contract to sing in a five star hotel — The Oriental, in Bangkok, Thailand (often cited as World’s Best Hotel).    After returning to the US, I continued my Voice studies, toured a one-woman show, and recorded two CDs.  (See my Music Bio for more info).

But I struggled sometimes with not being able to control my voice, and I had issues with stagefright.  I loved performing but I didn’t feel I was always at my best.  In 2005 I discovered Somatic Voicework(tm) The LoVetri Method, a state-of-the-art pedagogy for today’s vocal styles.  Finally I felt like I had a system for vocal technique that worked consistently! I earned a Level III certificate in the method, and founded the Voice Studio that same year.   I began to see great results, not only with my students but with my own voice as well.  I continue to be active in the SVW community, as well as to perform and sing; in 2014 I released my third CD.

I draw from all of this training and experience to use the most effective tools to help each student improve quickly.

Who are your typical students?

My students range from professionals who want to sound better and stay healthy while touring, to beginners who are just starting to explore their passion for singing.  They also include middle school, high school and college students; musical theater performers; classical singers who want to learn to sing CCM* styles; and speakers who want to express themselves more powerfully.  (See Success Stories to read testimonials from some of these students.)

*What is “CCM”?

CCM stands for “Contemporary Commercial Music,” ie: jazz, pop, rock, folk, musical theater, etc. It’s a relatively new term used in the vocal pedagogy community to replace the word “non-classical” – implying that our American popular styles are finally getting the respect they deserve!

How are you different from other voice teachers?

My background, which combines serious study of voice pedagogy with real experience as a performing singer, gives me a unique perspective.  Unlike some teachers, who only have experience with classical music, I have a practical understanding of contemporary music industry standards and what it’s really like to be out there.  On the other hand, I don’t just draw from my own experience, but on substantial  training and stùdy; and with over thirty years of experience as an educator, I understand how to relate to different learning styles and ensure each individual’s progress.

What’s also unusual about the studio is the many opportunities that I provide for Boston-area students to gain experience and exposure performing in professional music clubs.

What is Somatic Voicework(tm)?

Somatic Voicework(tm) the LoVetri Method – or SVW – is a method developed by Jeannie LoVetri specifically for CCM singing. It is a functional method, meaning it is based on how the voice actually works. It draws upon classical voice training as well as the latest research in voice science and medicine. In SVW we train the specific sets of muscles used in singing so that they can operate at maximum efficiency.  There are SVW certified teachers now teaching in Music Schools and Conservatories around the world; I am one of the most experienced in the Boston area to make this method available to those not able to study in a conservatory.

How do voice lessons actually work?

In our initial consultation, I will watch and listen to you carefully to assess your current abilities and habits. Then, in our private sessions, I will teach you exercises that target the muscles used in singing.  These include posture and breathing exercises as well as vocalises – singing exercises which improve tone, extend range, increase strength, and smooth out breaks.

During each lesson we also work on repertoire – music in your chosen genre. We approach it from a number of perspectives, including technique, style, and musicianship.  Many students also use part of their lesson time to get career advice, performance coaching, or feedback on their songwriting.

What results can I expect?

If you practice the exercises I give you consistently, your voice will become stronger and more flexible, your range will improve, breaks will smooth out, and you will develop more confidence as a singer.  As your voice becomes more free, you will begin to express yourself more authentically and fully.  If you participate in the many opportunities that I provide at the studio for performance workshops and showcases, or – for Skype students – send me audio or video of performances to review, you will also develop your performing abilities and become a more confident performer.  If you have specific career goals, I will offer advice and support on how to reach them.   Many of my students have successfully realized goals such as: getting into music school; touring with a band; getting cast in musical theater, etc.

What ages do you take?

Approximately 10-12 years old up to 70’s +. Young people need to be mature enough to focus and take direction during a professional level lesson. Many are, at that age, and they are usually great learners! If they are already starting to sing in school, chorus or musical theater, it’s a good time for them to build healthy vocal technique that can last a lifetime. Many kids who have studied with me have been cast in community and professional musical theater productions (including Broadway!) or have gone on to be accepted into theater programs or music schools.

Older people should not be discouraged from learning how to sing, even if they haven’t before. While sometimes older muscles can be harder to retrain (just ask my trainer at the gym:-) the focus that older people often bring to practice can make up for that. If you are active physically, there’s no reason you can’t sing well into your 70’s, 80’s, and beyond….just look at Tony Bennett!

How long does it take?

That depends on what shape your voice is in now and what your goals are. For the serious musician, mastering vocal technique is a long-term process that takes years. Sometimes singers with a good foundation in classical training can “crossover” to CCM singing in a relatively short time.  How fast you improve depends on what issues you have with your voice, how long you have had them, and how much you practice. I will give you a realistic assessment during our get-acquainted session.

What if I’ve had vocal health problems?

Any vocal health problems should be checked out by a laryngologist who works with singers. (Here in Boston, we have an excellent facility in the MGH Voice Center).  If you have had surgery or speech therapy, and have been given the a-ok to sing, I can work with you to rehabilitate your voice. I have had great success with students in recovering and even improving their voices from what they were before, and in other cases have been able to help students who are starting to have symptoms to avoid developing more serious problems.

Is there anyone who shouldn’t work with you?

Yes.  If I am concerned that you have serious problems such as nodes, inflammation or other issues in the larynx, I will insist that you see a qualified laryngologist before starting vocal training.  Anyone who is primarily interested in classical music would not be a good fit.  While the vocal technique is not incompatible with classical music, I’m not an expert in classical repertoire, so in that case I would refer you to someone else who is.  Finally, I don’t work with “dabblers.”  If you’re not interested in practicing and doing your part to improve, you should save your money and take an adult ed course.

How much should I practice?

That depends on what your goals are and how much time you have. Some consistent practice – even ten minutes a day – is better than doing a big blow-out session every once in a while. (Just like training at the gym!) If you are singing professionally, or want to be, you need to aim for much more. See this article for more information about practicing.

What kind of programs do you offer?

I offer different Programs depending upon your age and level of experience.   We’ll determine the best fit for you when you come for your free get-acquainted session.

Do I have to be able to read music?

No! Many great musicians, including Paul McCartney, can’t read music. Of course it is helpful if you have some understanding of theory, particularly if you plan on working with an accompanist and performing. I can incorporate some theory into your lessons and work with you on understanding some basic concepts that every singer should know

What if I don’t live in your area, can we still work together?

Sure! I offer lessons via Skype.

Ok! What’s the next step?

Contact me to set up a free “get-acquainted” meeting in person or via skype.  During the session, we’ll assess where you are right now, what your goals are, and decide what the best program fit for you would be.  You can email me at info@celiaslattery.com or call 617-666-3495.