Dale Pfeiffer

Assistant Professor

"In my vocal technique class for non-singers, my students range from people who have never sung before, except in the shower, to people who have taken voice lessons and have done some performing. I tell my students that they shouldn't compare themselves to each other; they're all coming from different places. If someone is very proficient, and you feel that you're not, it's not helpful for you to compare yourself to them. And people who are proficient should be respectful of the other students who are not at the same level that they are."

"Once when I had a teacher who was very critical, that made it difficult for me to learn effectively. She would ask me to do something, and if I couldn't do it, she didn't offer any other ways to get there. So I try to think things through with students if something's not working, to see what's keeping it from working and figure out what else we can do. Sometimes it's simple. Sometimes the body just isn't ready yet, and you have to work towards it."

"I think it was Sonny Rollins who said, 'The better your technique, the more you can express,' so I start there. Singers need to have the freedom to be able to really express what's inside them, and technique is an important part of that."

"You need to nail your technique, but also understand how to immerse yourself in a song and let it work its way through you and out to the audience. I had an international student once who was having a hard time with 'Smile' by Charlie Chaplin. I wanted her to feel that she was singing to someone. We talked about who she was close to, and it turned out she was missing her mother. We talked about the meaning of the words, and she sang it again. It was spine-tingling. She really got the emotion. And that to me—that sense of space you get when someone really opens up—is just so moving."

"I love the interaction with students; I enjoy what they bring, and I learn so much from them. Partly it's just in a human sense of learning about other people and, by extension, learning about myself. But it's also in the sense of having to stretch my thinking about how to solve problems they're having."

Career Highlights

 

  • B.M., Boston Conservatory of Music
  • Performances and recordings of pop, folk, rock, blues, and classical music
  • Experience in club dates, concerts, radio, and recitals
  • Former teacher at the Salle Pleyel, Paris