Q & A with Teacher Diane, New Mozart's Distinguished Voice Teacher

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Teacher Diane has been teaching at New Mozart since 2004. She has been tireless in her commitment to her students over the years and many of her students have gone on to successful singing and performing careers.  

1. How old were you when you started singing?

I've been singing since I was a little kid. I started off singing along with Disney movies and my dad played opera and operetta for me and my sister to listen to. I was not all that great as a kid, then around fifth grade my voice just popped into soprano range which was a shock to my family who had always thought I didn't have high notes. I signed up for choir as a good "no homework" arts class in high school. 

2. When did you start taking voice seriously and why did you decide to become a professional musician?

I started taking voice lessons in high school. I loved choir and took it very seriously, but I didn't know anything about singing or what I needed in order to improve. My mom was the one who suggested trying out lessons. Singing as a soloist, I rediscovered my love of performing. I had been involved in ballet and acting as a child, but had given both up to focus on other activities. My singing got me back into theatre and from then on, it was all I wanted to do, all the time. 

3. What do you love most about teaching?

The best part is learning from my students. I think every teacher says that, but it's true. They bring in fantastic songs and come up with amazing ideas. They also inspire me to explore new works and new ideas on my own. Working with students is a little like practicing for six hours a day, and I love practicing. 

4. This is your 15th year teaching at New Mozart and you've had many accomplished students over the years.  Can you tell us about a few notable ones. 

There are way too many to list. I've had some amazing students! Some past students include:

Sharon Lita is an amazing singer and actress who is currently in the musical theater program at CAP21 in New York and appeared in Lizzie Borden at San Jose Stage last summer.

You can hear Angelina Wahler's voice as Deema in Nickelodeon's Bubble Guppies and as Fee in Harvey Beaks. You can hear her singing in character on Harvey Beaks. She will be attending a music and theater program in Montana next year. 

Michaela Stewart is a filmmaker and actress who is studying at the Harold Ramis Film School Chicago. 

Maddie Sykes performs in film and theater. She has appeared in Period Piece and The Weekend Detectives and the NY premiere of Horse Girls. 

Suzanne Guzzetta is an adult student who has sung leading roles at Lyric Theatre of San Jose and South Valley Civic Theatre. 

A couple current students who have noteworthy accomplishments:

Violet P. made her San Francisco Opera debut as a featured supernumerary (Young Chrysothemis) in Richard Strauss's Elektra.

Robert V. made his Palo Alto Players debut as Noodler the Pirate in Peter Pan and won third place in Musical Theater at the SFBAC NATS Festival. 

Ava E. placed in both Musical Theatre and CCM (pop) at the SFBAC NATS Festival and has launched a new youtube channel under her stage name. 

 5. Do you have a practice tip or tips you want to share with our students?

I think it's best to practice with a goal in mind. The best way to do this is by making sure to bring music to every single lesson, even if you already have your song memorized, so that you can write down the things you need to work on for next time. Then focus on those things in the practice room. Don't try to take on everything at once. Focus on one thing at a time. Break things down into goals you can reach and once you do, move onto the next one. 

6. What do you enjoy doing when you're not teaching, practicing, or performing?

When I'm not singing, I'm planning our yearly epic Halloween display. In 2017 we added a dragon. 

Christine Shin

New Mozart School of Music, 305 North California Avenue, Palo Alto, CA, 94301