Steven Kowalczyk Santoro

Associate Professor
617 747-2944

"My teaching style is based on a combination of things, but mainly, I listen closely to each student to find out not only what he or she is asking me for, but also what I think he or she needs. I like my students to be aware of everything they're doing, not just standing in front of a band and singing, but also knowing as much as they possibly can about how music is made. So I ask them to think about arrangements and their communication with other musicians. Also, I stress technique but not at the expense of expression. It's really important for me to make sure that the singers that I work with don't forget why they're singing and why they became musicians in the first place. I'm for self-searching, for total honesty, but not emotionally negative feedback; I'm not interested in beating people up. A few of my new students this year have said they're happy to be working with me because they can express themselves without being told that they're wrong."

"Everything that I've done comes out in my teaching. Some of the tracks I use in my studio classes literally come from the projects that I've worked on. When I talk about studio singing, it comes from having done it, from being in the business, and I try to gear the class toward what the students may encounter in an actual session. These days, we're all expected to do a lot of things. Very rarely can you just go out there and be a singer and have someone hand you a record deal and suddenly you're famous. There's a lot to be done, and you really have to do most of it yourself. So I try to share these things with my students, everything from home recording to arranging and communicating with the band. I like to be honest about how difficult it can be to strike out into the world as a musician, so they stay on their toes. At the same time, I want to acknowledge that there's some room for magic, you know?"

"At Berklee, I think the diversity and the real-life experience of the faculty is amazing. In addition, you'd be hard-pressed to find truly contemporary vocal instruction at a lot of other schools. We see so many students who have had a casual amount of traditional vocal training or some who've studied traditional voice by default. But they've come to Berklee to dive into contemporary music, which in many cases ignores tradition. It's our job not only to reinforce the traditional kinds of things that will keep the voice healthy, but help them apply those things in a way that's stylistically appropriate. We don't want to turn our students away from the kind of singing they came here for. Last but not least, we have a huge strength in that we're such an international melting pot. It's a huge advantage to our students to be able to learn from each other, from so many different cultures and all the music they come here with. In turn, I learn some things that I didn't know before, and then I'm able to teach it back again to someone else. It's something that's valuable for everybody, not just musically, but culturally, as well."

Career Highlights

 

  • Degree in Afro-American music and jazz, University of Massachusetts
  • Vocalist and pianist
  • Freelance arranger/producer
  • Degree in Afro-American music and jazz
  • Debuted as a solo artist on Atlantic Records with Moods and Grooves (produced by Ahmet Ertegun)
  • Continues to release new albums independently
  • Original songs appear in independent and major movie soundtracks and albums
  • Experienced session singer, including television and radio ads for Olive Garden, Subway, Talbots, Canon, NBC, Nickelodeon, and La Quinta Inns
  • Performs in the New York club scene
  • Specializes in pop, r&b, and jazz
  • Teaches private lessons, vocal labs, and vocal ensembles
  • Background vocalist on Sting's A Winter's Night DVD/PBS special