Joanna is a warm, honest and knowledgeable teacher of voice. Her understanding of the voice stems from years as a professional singer-songwriter, as well as study and experience in a wide range of disciplines related to Vocal Health. Joanna holds a BFA in Music & Composition, a Bachelor of Education, and she is certified through the The University of Iowa’s Summer Vocology Institute, Jeannette LoVetri’s Somatic Voicework™ teacher-training program, and Meribeth Bunch Dayme’s Core Singing™ vocal pedagogy course.
When I was younger, I enjoyed considerable success as a singer-songwriter and musician, but for many years my own singing was technically very limited. Beyond foundational choral training, I had largely taught myself how to sing by singing along to my favourite artists and practicing my own songs in my room. I wrote around what my voice could already do, and though my material was “rangy”, there was so much about vocal training I had never learned.
When I got a gig straight out of school as a dance accompanist – improvising vocal and instrumental music to the moving score of dancer’s bodies – I was in heaven. I was singing for 30+ hours a week. Inspired to use my voice in new and expressive ways, I put more strain on my instrument than it was used to. I was just starting to tour in folk bands and theatrical shows as well. My voice-use continued to spike with each new week that went by, and I still had no technical training.
The day came when I decided to audition for Canadian Idol. That was the day where everything started to go wrong. Thousands of singers gathered and spent whole days socializing and waiting to be called to sing in front of various judges. I had bought my first book on singing a few days before, so I spent my time trying out many of the exercises in the book at full volume, and trying to stay “warmed up” for when I was called, as the book seemed to suggest. Unfortunately, I only sang myself into trouble, inflaming my vocal cords from overuse and causing some of the muscles in my neck to become sore. By the time I had made it through three rounds of auditions, and stood in front of the celebrity judges and cameras, my voice was tired, inflexible, and dull.
That experience was a wake-up call for me, and the months that followed were life changing. I had never stressed my voice so completely, and I had no tools or knowledge about how to recover. Intuitively, I stopped singing, to allow my voice to heal. When I went back to use my voice, each time the voice was less conditioned. Soon, singing became a constant struggle, though it had always been easy before. Dedicated to finding solutions, I stopped speaking altogether and started to seek help. It took me eight months, and several false starts, to find a qualified Laryngologist (an ENT doctor with special training in voice). That doctor referred me to Shelagh Davies, a Speech-Language Pathologist also specializing in the singing voice.
Shelagh Davies gave me information and exercises that were highly technical, had clear principles behind each one, and I found her instruction more satisfying than any voice teacher I had ever tried. She became my gateway into the world of Vocology, and science-based vocal pedagogy. In the years since, I have researched Vocal Health from many angles. I have studied with Dr. Ingo Titze in person to learn about the biomechanics of the voice. I have also studied with master teachers such as Jeannette LoVetri, Cate Frazier-Neely, Meribeth Bunch Dayme, Marina Gilman, Mary Enid Haynes, and more in order to develop a thorough understanding of functional voice training and practical vocal pedagogy.
A life-long learner, I continue to study the developments and breakthroughs of voice research, and the current “best practices” for vocal pedagogy. I am an active member of several Vocology groups such as The PanAmerican Vocology Association (PAVA), The Somatic Voicework™ Teachers Association (SVW), The National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), The Speakeasy Collective, and Vocology in Practice (ViP). I have been lucky to find information and methods that make use of my artistry as a professional musician and performer, and which chime with my personal values about vocal ease and freedom.
These days, I work to support my own voice students to use and discover more about their voices, in whatever styles they wish to sing. I share exercises, advice and knowledge to help singers to achieve their vocal goals, such as extending their vocal range, getting a stronger, more confident and more expressive sound, or being able to sing notes for longer. I also guide singers who find themselves in vocal trouble to get their voices and their careers back on track. I am most satisfied when I can help a student to connect to their voice in healthy and satisfying ways.
Joanna teaches private lessons from her studio in Toronto, Canada. She also offers voice clinics and online lessons.
“A year after a voice injury (sustained through thyroid surgery), I was disheartened by changes in my voice and unsure how to improve. Doctors considered the changes permanent. But Joanna’s expertise pinpointed the functional aspects of my voice that had been impacted, and she had not only solutions to recover the capacity of my voice, but gave me manageable and clear steps to follow to get there. Her guidance included exercises to restore my voice, the reassurance of restoration she gained through lived experience, and referrals to other voice team specialists to round out my recovery. I’m exceptionally grateful for her insight and skill.”
“I’ve been doing a series of voice lessons with Joanna over Skype, and she has helped me with finding different aspects of my voice to use, as well as helping me expand my range and being more comfortable and confident using my higher registers and head-voice. It’s been super helpful and exciting to expand my emotional voice palette! Joanna is a great, super supportive teacher, and the Skype format has worked really great for us. Highly recommended!”
“Joanna is a wonderful vocal teacher who works together with you to discover your singing voice. A very accomplished artist, she also has the requisite education and experience to expertly guide you through vocal technique and musicianship. But, what really makes Joanna stand out is her ability to adapt the lessons to each student based on their needs and interests. Ultimately, she understands that singing is a brave pursuit and thanks to her, I now have the confidence to sing my heart out.”
“I just had a lesson with Joanna and it was wonderful! Don’t let the idea of it being over Skype throw you off, she has a fantastic ear. But importantly, she made me feel welcomed, not judged, and that it really was possible to sing after not singing for a decade. Our session was fun, informative, and so encouraging. I ended up singing to myself all day afterwards – part of that was due to the 90’s earworm we grooved to at the end, I’m sure! Thank you Joanna!”
“Joanna is a wonderful teacher and had the unique way of working with my voice from its current state and helping me build from there. I discovered my range, my strong areas and where I can improve. I found her teaching style accessible, encouraging and simplified for a beginner. I also was challenged in the right ways to find my next level of development.”
“Joanna brings a wonderful mix of knowledge, experience and warmth that I think makes her a fantastic choice as a vocal teacher. Through a supportive environment she will help you reach those important vocal insights as a singer and yet still provide the appropriate encouragement to keep reaching for your absolute best. I highly recommend her to any who wish to improve their voice as a singer and to just have a great time doing so!”
“Joanna is a pleasure. She has so much enthusiam for voice and her joy is infectious! When exercising my voice she takes the time to explain concepts that are new to me while simultaneously flowing through the class time to allow as much singing time as possible. She gives me space to bring out what is naturally inside me, while gently guiding me to be aware for myself of the differences in tone I’m producing for each sound. I’m very grateful for the space she holds for me in her listening and her application of what is very obviously years of experience and expertise in this field. Thank you Joanna!”