Joanna holds a BFA in Music, a Bachelor of Education, and certifications from the The University of Iowa’s Summer Vocology Institute, Jeannette LoVetri’s Somatic Voicework™ teacher-training program, and Meribeth Dayme’s Core Singing™ vocal pedagogy course. Joanna also spent years as a professional singer-songwriter and performer. Drawing on her experience as an artist, she makes creative connections between her training and the art of singing. As a result, she uses a holistic approach to teaching, combining vocal exercises and body movement with creative improvisations and theatrical techniques.
When I was younger, I enjoyed success as a singer-songwriter and musician, performing at festivals, winning awards, and touring around the world. The only limitations to my artistry, were the limits to my vocal abilities. I wrote around what my voice could do, which was quite a lot, and I performed as much as I could.
Straight out of university, I got a job as a dance accompanist, improvising and reading the dancers’ bodies like music. Inspired by their movements, I made all kinds of sounds: I cried out when dancers contracted at their core; I made childish sounds on the offbeats during light jumping sequences; and I sang sweeping, soulful phrases when they performed strong, elegant sequences. At this time, I also started to tour in bands and in theatrical productions. I suddenly found myself singing for 30+ hours a week, and in a variety of styles. Unfortunately, without the necessary guidance, I only sang myself into trouble.
From overuse, my voice become tired, inflexible, and dull. Even worse, singing started to hurt. Worried, I stopped in order to allow my voice to heal. Dedicated to finding solutions, I tried reading books and seeking help. I took lessons from several local voice teachers, and got referred to an ENT doctor, all of whom were unable to help. It took over a year to find a medical vocologist who ended up referring me to Shelagh Davies, an SLP who was also a vocologist.
Shelagh helped me find vocal freedom again, and our work inspired me to begin studying vocology. I wanted to help others avoid the kind of frustration that I had faced while waiting for voice care. Shelagh pointed me in the direction of many renowned vocologists, including Dr. Ingo R. Titze, Dr. Kittie Verdolini Abbott, Cate Frazier-Neely, Mary Enid Haynes, Jeannette LoVetri, Meribeth Dayme, and Marina Gilman, each guiding me towards mastery of the voice in some way. Now, as a certified vocologist, I help others to find their vocal freedom, too.
I still sing and perform, but I devote most of my time to teaching. I support my students to develop and discover more about their voices as they achieve their goals, such as extending their vocal range, getting a more powerful sound, or being able to hold notes without running out of breath. When needed, I guide struggling singers to rehabilitate their singing voices, or connect them with medical experts, in order to get their careers back on track.
My greatest satisfaction comes when my students finally reach a place of vocal freedom, and get “into the zone.” When that happens, they enter a state of flow, everything seems to click, and they connect to a thrilling feeling inside and all around. That’s my favourite. Ultimately, that’s what my work is here to do.
Joanna teaches private lessons from her studio in Toronto, Canada. She also offers voice clinics and online sessions.
“I’ve been doing a series of voice lessons with Joanna… 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 [online] format has worked really great for us. Highly recommended!”
“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 just had a lesson with Joanna and it was wonderful! Don’t let the idea of it being [online] 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 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!”
“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.”