2013 International Congress of Voice Teachers, Brisbane

Other Presentations

Keynote Speaker-Music Theatre

July 10 to July 14

Brisbane, Australia

8th International Conference of Voice Teachers

Mary was in Brisbane July 10-14, 2013 with the keynote presentation:

Farewell to Fach: The Future of Musical Theatre Singing

for the nearly 600 voice teachers assembled from 28 countries.

Recent MFA grad Christy Turnbow participated in the opening session

performing in a wide variety of vocal styles from Mozart to Jason Robert Brown.

Mary also presented two Musical Theatre Master Classes

and joined a round table discussion of musical theatre singing.

More information at http://www.icvt2013.com/

Here is Mary's abstract printed in the Congress Journal (pictured above)


Farewell to Fach:

The Future of Musical Theatre Singing

In May of this year, Penn State University's School of Theatre graduated our first Master of Fine Arts in Voice Pedagogy for Musical Theatre. The event bears a very special significance for me personally as it marks the realization of a long-held dream.

When I arrived at Penn State 14 years ago, I was surprised to discover that almost all of my colleagues teaching musical theatre in other universities were classical voice teachers, who had little or no experience in the techniques specific to musical theatre singing. It was my great good fortune at Penn State to land among classical colleagues who accepted me with open arms. Together we have become a community of voice teachers who teach and learn together. Nothing is held back and everybody benefits.  These colleagues introduced me to the National Association of Teachers of Singing, which in 2001 offered the second of two groundbreaking workshops entitled “Music Theatre and the Belt Voice.”  It was the first time I had had the opportunity to teach at one of these events and I was then and still am, amazed by the rapt intensity exhibited by those hundreds of mostly classical teachers. A public affirmation of belting as a legitimate vocal use began to build a bridge between classical, musical theatre and contemporary genres, which in my view, marks the beginning of a new era of voice training. We need each other!

Those of us who teach singing for musical theatre know we are training vocal athletes in the same way we would train a runner or a football player. Endurance and healthy technique are paramount. The question, “Can you do that eight shows a week” hangs over all we do. The approach I have taken at Penn State is to train “both sides of the voice.” Over the years, I have come to recognize the value of balancing classical vocal technique with the techniques specific to musical theatre singing, an approach I affectionately refer to as “ Bel Canto Can Belto.” The voice pedagogy required to meet the demands placed on today's performers eliminates the concept of fach completely. All girls belt and sing soprano.  All boys sing above the second passaggio. The 22 year old with a musical theatre degree needs to be ready to hit the ground running in a tour of American Idiot and then come back and go out again in Oklahoma! The absence of a formal pedagogy to address these demands pulled at my mind for a decade. The result is Penn State's new MFA in Voice Pedagogy for Musical Theatre. Our first graduate, Christy Turnbow, concluded her two year endeavor with a remarkable comedic cabaret. She included the Mozart aria, Come scoglio, then belted Whatever Happened To My Part? from Spamalot and joyously trotted out her high E flat in Glitter and Be Gay from Candide.

Farewell to fach! This is the future of musical theatre singing.