voice lesson

Q & A with Teacher Joshua - Voice/Piano/Trumpet Teacher


1.     Tell us about your musical and teaching background.

In middle school and high school, I was total band and choir nerd. I also performed in school and community musical theatre productions, took lessons, and participated in district and state competitions. I went to college at Oklahoma City University and studied Vocal Music Education. At OCU, I performed in band, operas, and musicals while learning classroom teaching and vocal methods for children, youth, and adults. I then moved to Baltimore, MD to study Voice Performance and Pedagogy at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. There I continued to perform in operas while learning the pedagogy of teaching private lessons. I began teaching voice lessons to instrumentalists at Peabody and taught private lessons in Washington, D.C. After graduation, I moved to Dallas, TX where I began my performance and teaching career in earnest. I performed operas, major choral works, musicals, and concerts with companies all over North Texas and maintained a private voice studio. In all three states, I also directed adult, youth, and children’s choirs in Methodist, Lutheran, and Presbyterian churches. I am pleased with the balance I have struck between performing a wide variety of works around the country while teaching privately, chorally, and in classrooms in a number of settings.  

2.     How old were you when you started taking music lessons and which instrument did you start with?

I’ve been singing since I was a toddler and started playing trumpet in fifth grade. My first private lessons were in piano when I was eight years old. I began private trumpet and voice lessons in my freshman year of high school.

3.     When did you start taking music seriously and what inspired you to become a musician and music teacher?

I have always taken music seriously, but first I realized how important it was to my identity in middle school when the administration took away the students’ option to be a part of both choir and band in the same school year. I petitioned the principal to allow me to take both courses in lieu of another subject and she allowed it. When I began taking private lessons, I realized that music was the path for me. I honestly couldn’t envision myself doing anything else for a career, so I explored what a career in music entailed. I came to understand that teaching and performing go hand in hand and I now know that teaching makes me a better performer and vice versa.

4.     What do you hope to achieve in teaching students?

Music is my passion and it is my goal to pass that onto my students. Leading a student to their full potential as a musician is the best way to instill that passion in them and to ensure that they don’t lose it, regardless of whether music is an integral part of their career or not. By focusing on the fundamentals of music, music literacy, technique, and musicianship, my students develop self confidence and the ability to fully express what they wish to communicate through music.

5.     What do you love most about teaching?

I live for those “Eureka!” moments in teaching. Learning to sing or play an instrument takes time and certain concepts often need to be repeated quite a bit in a variety of ways. That moment where a concept clicks and a student suddenly realizes the incredible sounds or musical nuances they can make is amazing.  

6.     Do you have a practice tip you want to share with our students?

I’ve found that the best deterrent for nerves when I have a performance coming up is to be super prepared. This involves starting to learn my music well ahead of time and spending time on it every single day, even if it’s only fifteen minutes on some days. As a singer, I often have to memorize full operas, including dozens of lines of dialogue or recitative. So engaging in smart practice methods and fully focusing on my music for a period everyday results in me being über prepared by the time a first rehearsal or performance arrives. Most of my students are incredibly busy with school, extracurricular activities, and work. But my “practice tip” is to make time every single day, even if you don’t think it’s long enough, to focus on your art and your music. Whether that’s silent studying or full on practicing, it will make all the difference when it comes to time to perform.

7. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not teaching, practicing, or performing?

I love to cook, so I spend a lot of free time discovering new recipes or experimenting with old favorites. I also always have a good book on hand to settle into and a few Netflix shows for those evenings when I just want to chill. I just moved to California, so I'm already starting to explore all the new sights to see including beaches, hiking trails, and cute communities all around the Bay Area.

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


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.