About Martha Howe - Teacher

A warm welcome to my website. I believe that healthy singing is paramount to a long and enjoyable singing-life, and in my experience, when singers understand their breath and their individual instrument, they will grow into the style that best fits their musical personality. My studio includes a wide range of students who are interested in classical, opera, early music, musicals, R&B, jazz, popular, new-age, Christian contemporary, Latin and mariachi.

Working with a breath-based technique grounded in both performance experience and vocal science, I enjoy integrating a wide range of styles and helping students bridge between varied and sometimes competing vocal demands. We can fully express our artistry once we enjoy a solid technique and have an understanding of how the voice is produced, so I work with my students on vocal technique, breath, and how to fully express text and emotions while singing.

My own performance arc began with church then folk music, becoming a baroque specialist in my twenties. I then moved to New York City and began building my list of over a hundred concert and opera roles performed, specializing in 20th century music, Wagner and Strauss. While performing across the United States and Canada, in regional houses up through the top houses and orchestras, I repeatedly worked with exacting conductors and demanding stage directors, learning first-hand what is expected musically and technically of active performing artists.

After an extensive career in opera that took me to the Lyric Opera of Chicago for twelve roles over five seasons, plus San Francisco Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Kennedy Center, Santa Fe, Carnegie Hall, and the Chicago, San Francisco and Minnesota orchestras, along with opera companies throughout North America, I moved to Europe.

While living in Vienna, Austria in 1998, I began teaching at a private college for musicals performers, and thoroughly enjoyed diving into Broadway, pop and jazz literature, teaching healthy belting that enables the singer to perform eight shows a week, or a seven-hour Viennese Ball jazz gig.

At the Vienna Musical School I was the only teacher who could claim that every one of my students graduated with a professional contract in hand, and many are still performing throughout Europe. While concurrently teaching individual lessons, Acting While Singing, Understanding Breathing, and Audition workshops, I staged scenes and productions, and presented workshops to performing cast members in Stage Entertainment productions in Hamburg and Berlin, and was the vocal coach for productions of Hair and Footloose! in Güssing, Austria. My students performed in major productions of Les Miserables, Mamma Mia, Cabaret, Tanz der Vampire, Elizabeth and Cats throughout Germany, and Lion King on London’s Westend.

Since returning to the U.S. in 2007, I have continued performing and teaching full time, including Skype lessons to Vienna, Chicago and Japan. In the summer of 2014, an actively performing Viennese Skype student will be taking the role of Gaston in Gigi at the prestigious Bad Ischl, in Austria, having debuted there in 2013 in Hello Dolly! and Lehar’s Wo die Lerche singt.

Repertoire and Vocal Literature: My opera, orchestral concert and oratorio work, along with preparing and performing over fifty major recitals, have given me a wide knowledge of the repertoire, and I enjoy putting together cohesive, interesting recitals that inform while they entertain. Along with the classical repertoire, I have also been working with musicals performers since 1999, and have a broad knowledge of “classical” and contemporary musicals repertoire.

Diction: I am continually teaching singing diction to students with varied “mother tongues”. Along with singing extensively in the major languages, including Russian, I lived, taught and performed in France and Vienna. When I was a young singer, people would say to me that the vowels weren’t quite right, but couldn’t tell me what to do to change them. So I have made a study of the physiological differences in the pronunciation of the major singing languages, and how to produce those vowels while singing. Working for twenty years with the top opera and diction coaches has been invaluable to this process.

Interpretation: All singers communicate and interpret text. Learning roles and individual songs can be a fascinating investigation when a student looks at the text in its historical and cultural context, then observes how this composer set the text. What are they really trying to say? What is the composer’s opinion as found in the accompaniment and vocal line? Exploring these levels of communication is an essential part of stagecraft, and at the root of a believable performance.

Teaching History

Private Studio - presently based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Teaching private voice lessons to a wide variety of students, including Skype lessons with students in Vienna, Japan, San Diego, and Chicago
In classical, opera, early music, musicals, R&B, jazz, popular, new-age, Christian contemporary, Latin and mariachi styles

Private Studio – San Diego – 2007 to August 2013
Teaching private voice lessons and presenting Voice Studio Recitals. Using Skype to teach at a distance to several students in Vienna and one in Hawaii.

Grossmont College – El Cajon – August 2007 to June 2013
Adjunct Faculty
Performance Studies
– a juried class for music majors which includes weekly performances for peers, workshops, written concert reviews, and in-class recitals.

Private Studio – Vienna – 1999 to July 2007
Teaching private voice lessons, conducting master classes, and regularly being invited to teach students performing in major productions in Hamburg and Berlin and present Workshops to cast members.

Musicals Güssing -- Güssing, Austria
Production Preparation Workshops: Workshops on style, vocal technique, rhythm, expression, and role building in August 2005 for Footloose and August 2006 for Hair.

Vienna Musical School -- March 1999 to July 2004
Four year college for musicals performers

Individual Voice lessons: Full studio of 9 to 12 students, each with two lessons a week.

Acting While Singing (A one semester course, taught for three years): Developing the inner structure of a character through work on the text as monologue, the messages and information in the music itself, and how to access and convey emotions without impairing the voice.

Audition Preparation Workshop (Taught once a year): What are you projecting in your auditions? Addressing the performers vocal, physical and emotional images – are they congruent or at odds with each other? Are the songs and/or the presentation appropriate for an audition? What impressions do the CV and photos project? How do you prepare for and interact with the pianist?

Understanding Breathing (Taught once a semester): Examining the actual physical structure of breathing, the voluntary and involuntary control muscles, and the physiognomy of breathing with simple exercises to strengthen and expand the lungs, unblock the breath, and explore breath support.

Stagings: Individual song stagings for each student, twice a year for Juries (over 120 songs)

Scenes from: Carousel, Jekyll & Hyde, Titanic, J.C. Superstar, Glöckner, Sunset Blvd., Frühjahrsparade, Company, La Mancha, Fame, Weihnachtsmedley, J.C. Superstar block, Glöckner von Notre Dame, Martin Guerre

Full Shows: Trilogy: Rocky Horror Show (block), Oklahoma (one hour)
Weihnachtshow – concept, full production responsibilities
Divided Hearts: Aida (one hour), Café Memphis (one hour)
-- concept, staging, and full production responsibilities

Biondek Gymnasium – Baden, Austria – June 1999 to July 2003
High School, working with 15 to 17 year old students

Individual Voice lessons: 7 to 10 students, one lesson a week

Production Preparation Workshops: Producing and organizing one week workshops on style, technique, rhythm, expression, and role building, followed by individual coachings and scene stagings through the school year:
September 1999 The Wiz
September 2000 Big
September 2001 Premierenfieber (revue)
September 2002 Bugsy

Audition Preparation Workshop: Preparing for auditions for University programs and making sure that the performers’ vocal, physical and emotional images form one package. Choosing and finishing the songs to be presented, and putting together materials to be presented. Preparing the music for the pianist, and practicing with mock auditions.

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