Folks, it's my joy to share with you Rachel Nyetam, one of the associate teachers at M.E.T. Studio of Voice and a longtime friend and colleague. She is hilarious, and I've giggled repeatedly as I've read through her answers. She is straightforward, funny, and a fabulous teacher. Enjoy getting to know her.
1. If you could see the vocal folds of one singer, who would you choose?
Leontyne Price or Louis Armstrong
2. What is your best singing moment?
It was when I was singing the Third Spirit in Nashville Opera's production of The Magic Flute by Mozart. The cast was fantastic and had such camaraderie. I was also singing as part of a trio which really calmed my nerves. My oldest daughter also made her opera debut in this show! She was three at the time and played one of Papageno's little chicks. We had so much fun with such great music! And I even did a cartwheel on stage!
3. What is your best teaching moment?
I love it when a simple idea can make a big change and the singer is surprised and impressed with the result. Teaching 10 year old Brian how to sing the high notes in Paradise City by Guns-n-Roses. I made him start by singing it like an opera singer, he hated it but was so excited that he could actually do it. He gave me a signed t-shirt from his band The Black Holes with their tour dates on the back. Which included the 5th grade talent show and Brian’s backyard BBQ.
4. At Thanksgiving, do you prefer the dinner or the dessert?
Dessert, my Grandma’s apple pie is not to be missed!
5. What is the most interesting part of singing to teach?
Formants. I love teaching something highly scientific in a simple way that can totally transform a voice. Most of my students don’t even know when I am teaching them about formants!
6. What is your favorite style to teach?
This is so difficult to choose one! Top 3 are Jazz, Country and Musical Theater.
7. What is your favorite classic music video, like before Youtube existed?
Michael Jackson, Thriller. It absolutely scared me to death as a child but it’s just so good!!
8. What drew you to teaching voice?
I always enjoyed figuring out how things work and fixing things. I also really enjoy science and anatomy. Voice teaching allowed me to combine all of these things with my love of music.
9. What is your favorite season?
It depends on where I am living! In Texas we could have all four seasons in one day. So I would say mid-morning aka Spring.
10. What is your process for working through challenging parts of music.
SLOW DOWN! So many of us try to learn at performance tempo and our muscles just can’t integrate that quickly. Another technique I use for learning melismas is to learn it backwards one section at a time.
11. Do you have a pre-performance routine? If so, what is it?
I warm up earlier in the day and take time to mentally sing through my entire performance visualizing myself doing it the best that I possibly can. I also take time to gather my crew. I got this idea from Maya Angelou. To bring those who support you and have contributed to your success “on stage” with you. Sometimes being onstage can feel very exposed and if I feel as though my mentors, relatives and greatest cheerleaders are there with me it gives me strength and peace.
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