About Karyn O'Connor
Like many singers, I enjoyed singing from a very young age, participating in school plays, select small groups as a child and singing solos at church. As a teenager, I formed a quartet at a local church, where we performed special numbers for the congregation nearly every Sunday morning. My interest in and talent for musical theatre began to grow in high school.
For several years during my university days, I was involved in acting with small theatre companies and in a few university stage productions (both musicals and traditional theatre) in the Niagara, Ontario and Greater Toronto regions. In later years, my role at one of the theatre companies shifted from lead acting to directing and vocal coaching for the cast of the productions.
The beginning of university also marked the beginning of my formal voice training. I studied classical voice technique (as a lyric mezzo-soprano, with no desire to perform classical music as a career) for nearly nine years under the private instruction of the very reputable, formerly Toronto-based tenor, Mitch Seekins. At the time, Mitch taught classical bel canto technique, with applications to contemporary genres.
In time, I began to turn my attention to songwriting and performing my original rock music (with a band) throughout Ontario and upstate New York at festivals, concerts, coffee houses and clubs, as well as in the recording studio (demos), before moving to Massachusetts in 2001 and forming another band here. I appeared at various coffee houses and festivals, and also led worship on a weekly and twice-weekly basis for three years at the largest church in New England, until I started my family.
While taking a break from pursuing a career in performance and recording (to focus more of my attention on my new and ever growing family), I discovered my gift for teaching - my true vocation - and began building a career in voice pedagogy. I soon developed not only excellent observation skills, but also an exceptionally fine-tuned ear that allows me to hear many of the acoustic subtleties that hint at technical or articulation errors (e.g., a lowered soft palate, tongue muscles that tense up at the back or sides, etc.) that are often missed or overlooked by untrained listeners and other voice teachers. My teaching approach and style are flexible, as my years of working with many different types of students have enabled me to work well with all learning styles and personalities.
In the meantime, I have continued to be involved in contemporary Christian worship leadership at local churches. I've been an active participant on the worship team (alternating between singing lead and singing back-up vocals for the worship pastor on staff) at my current church for the past four-and-a-half years, and as a guest worship leader and speaker at other churches throughout southern Ontario (Canada), Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Working with my worship bands has entailed leading and directing multiple instrumentalists and back-up vocalists with different ranges, as well as selecting and arranging songs, and playing an instrument (either acoustic guitar or bass guitar) from time to time.
I have also written articles on singing, song selection and worship leading that were published in a nationally-distributed special interest magazine.
Since the beginning of 2008, I have devoted a great deal of my time to writing in-depth articles on numerous vocal topics for my other website, SingWise.com, an information-based resource for singers and voice teachers around the world. SingWise combines researched-based information with 'wisdom' and insight that I've gained through my years of teaching experience, and offers solutions to common vocal technique problems and vocal health concerns. That site is regularly being edited and updated, and there are always new writing and teaching projects (e.g., a much anticipated book on vocal technique to be ready for publishing in December 2012) that I'm working on.
For the first two years of my formal teaching career, I taught students of all ages and abilities at a local music store, before making the decision to begin teaching exclusively out of my private home studio in Pepperell, Massashusetts, which is located about fifty minutes northwest of Boston and fifteen minutes south of Nashua, New Hamphire. (I'm considering opening up a Boston studio in the next year or two, as well.)
Like my former voice instructor, I teach timeless and versatile classical voice technique as a solid foundation for skillful and healthy vocalization, with applications to contemporary styles and genres of singing. My students range in genre from adult contemporary, folk, pop (even Japanese pop!), rock and heavy metal to jazz, classical (including choral singing and opera) and liturgical, carnatic and Bollywood, and everything else in between, and include a wide range of ages and skill levels. Additionally, I have worked with several students on correcting their speaking technique and articulation errors that have caused them persistent vocal health problems, using basic singing skills as a springboard for improved speaking technique.
In November of 2010, after having received countless requests from my SingWise readers, I began offering lessons via Skype.
In addition to my students who take weekly in-studio or video call lessons, I have students who travel from other states and hours away for monthly lessons at my home studio, and others who fly in from out of state or other countries for week-long 'intensive' voice studies, or for weekend 'intensives'.
I am a devoted and passionate teacher who enjoys sharing my knowledge and offering solutions and advice to anyone who seeks my guidance and expertise. (That is how and why SingWise.com was started!) Singers from around the world may submit to me singing related questions and sometimes links to their videos and audio recordings, and I treat them all as my own students, ensuring that they are equipped with accurate assessments of their own vocal abilities and correct information about voice technique. My aim is always to help singers reach their singing goals and have healthy voices.