Michelle Murray Fiertek, Voice
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Michelle Murray Fiertek

Voice

Michelle Murray Fiertek, Voice

In her early years Connecticut soprano Michelle Murray Fiertek opened “The Voyage of the Little Mermaid” for Disney’s Hollywood Studios as one of the original Ariels. She went on to work as the lead singer aboard the S. S. Discovery I and, in 1995, became the first American singer to be invited to perform both Japanese and American music in Minakami, Japan. She has released two albums on the Summit Records label: Blue: The Complete Cabaret Songs of William Bolcom and Arnold Weinstein, described as “exemplary” by BBC Music Magazine and named “CD of the week” by the Arizona Republic and KBAQ-FM, and The Juliet Letters.   Michelle made her Carnegie Hall debut in December 2005 with a solo performance described as “First rate – engaging and authentic” in New York Concert Review. A continuously active performer, this year has seen her singing the roles of Miss Pinkerton/June Jinkins in Hartford Opera Theater’s double bill of “Old Maid and the Thief” (Menotti) and “An Embarrassing Position” (Shore) in addition to giving solo recitals in Cape Cod, MA, Winchester, MA, Kensington, CT, and at The Hartt School. She has been a faculty and guest recital artist at venues across the country, and the featured soloist in many large-scale choral works, including Fauré’s Requiem, Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Mass in C Minor, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Bach's B Minor Mass and Handel’s Dettingen Te Deum and Messiah. A champion of Spanish Art Song, Michelle has studied under such famed musicians as pianist Miguel Zanetti and mezzo-soprano Teresa Berganza in Granada, Spain as part of the celebrated Interpretation of Spanish Song program, as well as returned to the program in subsequent years as a guest artist. She holds two B.M. degrees from Arizona State University, an M.M. from California State University, Long Beach, and a D.M.A. in Vocal Performance from The Hartt School, University of Hartford, where she currently serves on the voice faculty. www.michellemurrayfiertek.com

Teaching Philosophy

I teach because I am so excited by the process of starting that fire and keeping it lit that I don’t want to do anything else. I am passionately curious about history, pedagogy, communication, repertoire exploration, and artistic creation. Each day I spend as a music professor combines them all. Starting any fire is so much more than simply presenting information—it is being passionate about a process.

Build a tinder nest. Personal investment in a relationship with each student is vital. The relationship I strive to build and nurture with each student is one where each student is appreciated, every voice matters, and diversity is celebrated. I work to learn about each student as an individual and to foster a tone in the classroom each day that is open, supportive, and motivational.

Make a notch in your fireboard. I am voracious in my own learning. Whether the topic is history, pedagogy, or the craft of creating music, I never stop being a student. I am open with my students about how continuous growth is my goal as an artist, and that it informs my teaching every day. Because of my own continuous professional development, my approach to teaching continues to grow and metamorphose throughout the year. 

Place the tinder nest beneath the fireboard. Even the most interesting topic can make for a frustrating learning experience if information is not presented in an organized manner. I strive to present relevant information in a clear, concise, and exciting manner. In the classroom this means a connection to the personal life of each student and the greater present-day world. I want them to understand the facts of the subject but also to understand how it applies directly to their life and the choices they make as a musical artist. In applied lessons this means using a blend of pedagogical/anatomical terms along with the use of imagery to solidify physical and vocal concepts. I know that I have had a successful class or lesson when students tell me they can’t believe how fast the time went by, and they are excited for the next session.

Place the spindle in the notch and begin spinning. Friction is the intersection of clear communication, trust, and infectious enthusiasm. In applied lessons I use an integrated method that includes vocal technique (body alignment, breathing, phonation, resonation, articulation, audition, register transitions, range extension), repertoire development (the right songs for the student’s voice, personality, and looks), and performing skills (stage presence, fear management, audition skills, actor/singer coordination). I encourage students to discover and cultivate their own creative resources and to modify technical and behavioral traits that interfere with artistic expression. In the history classroom I weave together composer and poet biographies with annotated scores and listening examples and open the floor to discussion about not only the composer or piece being examined, but how they relate to larger social and artistic movements.

Fan the flames. My ultimate goal as a teacher is to inspire each student to sustain their inner fire. I strive to model being a lifetime learner. One of my greatest pleasures as a teacher is when a student seeks me out to tell me about a new discovery they have made or a new passion they have decided to pursue. They do not wonder if I will be interested because they know me as an artist and a teacher; they know I will always be excited to learn and to share. I am most driven as a singer and teacher by research and conversation, and I want to show learning as both infinite and invigorating. 

My goal for all students entering my classroom or studio is not only that they become successful singers—it is that students are able to place their vocal study within a holistic context of history, music, artistic expression, and most of all to know where they fit into this grand tradition. I dedicate myself each day to inspiring students personally, academically, and artistically; and I believe that we educate the whole person, not just the musician.