Jeannie Gagné, Associate Professor
"The voice comprises the most complicated muscle group in the entire body, using more of the cerebral cortex than any other part of the body. Because it's so complex, in a lesson you can't just say, 'change this, change that.' What I do suggest is that in order to get the result you want—and we talk about what that might be—students should try different approaches with my guidance. I'll say, 'This way might be more effective,' rather than, 'What you're doing is wrong.' I believe that if you simply tell someone that what they're doing is wrong, it makes the body tense. A tense body has a harder time singing, and that's counterproductive."
"Singing is about 80 percent mental. You can't see the voice, and the muscles are involuntary. You have to use your imagination. You can consciously change your hand position on a guitar, but you can't just change your breathing. You can't feel it happening. Much of learning voice technique is by trial and error until the body gains new muscle memory that gets the desired result. I will also work with students on what's going on in their minds; it can become a very personal process. Understanding your breathing is key, and so is learning to become very athletic about singing, very aerobic. Good voice technique combines an understanding of what's going on in your body and also being really aware of your mental process."
"I'm fortunate that my own voice is extremely versatile and flexible, so I can help students with many different styles. For instance, I get students who've had classical technique but who really don't want to sing classical music. So they come in trying to sing a Bonnie Raitt tune when they were trained on arias. These styles are apples and oranges, though the body is of course the same. Since I can do both, I can help the student bridge the gap, so they can sing all styles in a healthy way."
"My hope is that the students will open their vistas to new music and sounds, because the learning process never ends. What we're doing here is getting people started and encouraging them to realize we're constantly developing."
- B.A., Wesleyan University
- M.A., Voice and Healing Arts, Lesley University
- Leader of the Jeannie Gagné Band
- Directs the music program and choir of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Middleborough, Massachusetts
- Performances with Penn and Teller, Frankie Paul, Talking Drums, the Poppies (Sony Music)
- Appearances on All Things Considered (NPR) and the CBS Evening News
- Recordings include Passages with Philip Glass and Forbidden Nights for NBC-TV
- Contributing writer for Words and Music magazine; interviewed by People magazine
- Solo CDs Wide Open Heart and Must Be Love on Wizardwolf Music
- Cocreator of and contributor to Singing the Journey, a Unitarian Universalist hymnal resource