Tag Archives: foundation

Anne LaBella

Teacher Feature: Anne L, Part 2

We wrote a Teacher Feature about Anne almost 2 years ago, but so much has happened in the last couple years we thought it was time for another one. In the last 2 years, Anne has helped us expand our nonprofit into schools and community centers throughout the county, developed and run our annual Pop Star Camp, opened her own home to a Molly’s Music studio in Riverside, and performed with notable opera companies throughout Orange, Riverside, and LA County. We’re very thankful to have her with us.

MM: Tell me about your musical training!

AL: I started taking guitar lessons when I was 8 years old. I started playing clarinet in 4th grade, and then violin in 6th grade. I started voice lessons when I was about 12. I played violin up until 8th grade, when they no longer offered it (but have taken private lessons afterwards), played clarinet and took guitar lessons up until my senior year of high school, and went on to study voice in college. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in vocal performance. I have since studied with multiple teachers who have very extensive performance resumes in opera.

MM: What are your current musical projects?

AL: Currently I am working on learning the role of Adina for a production of The Elixir of Love for the winter and the role of Musetta for a production of La Boheme in the summer. I am also involved with Riverside Lyric Opera’s production of Amahl and the Night Visitors and Independent Opera’s production of Werther, as well as working with teachers and coaches in the Southern California area.

MM: What kind of music do you listen to?

AL: I only really listen to opera when I am studying it. When I am studying a role, I listen to it while driving and mouth the words, which I’m sure is very comforting to the other drivers around me. When I am not doing that, I listen to a lot of rock, heavy metal, blues, things like that. I like driving rhythms, a lot of percussion, and really tight instrumental playing. I also like songs with interesting words.

MM: What’s your teaching philosophy?

AL: Every student is different, and therefore they all need to be approached differently. I try to find different ways to explain things to help them understand the concepts I’m trying to teach them. I also feel it is important to make them laugh, or at least I try. Laughing makes some feel more at ease, and that is important because music is very personal, and also it is a good way to open up when singing.  I am probably not as successful at that as I want to be.

MM: What do you do to motivate your students?

AL: I want to work on what they are interested in. I want to know what they want to be working on and the things that they are concerned about musically. If students are doing music that interests them, they want to work on it.

MM: What’s your favorite performance you’ve ever done?

AL: That’s tough. I think it is a tie between when I learned the role of Bastienne in two weeks and performed it and a performance of Aleko that I did. The first one was cool for the rush of having to learn a lead role so fast and being able to perform it. In the production of Aleko I was in the chorus, but the music was so beautiful and the whole opera had this aura of strangeness and beauty that I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic for it when it was done.

MM: Tell me about your experience running Pop Star Camp.

AL: The Pop Star Camp is one of those things that as long as I hit the ground running, I am okay. I have a basic outline of what needs to be done, and a basic idea of what to do to get it done, and then sort of fill in the details when I meet the kids who we are working with and go from there. Then I take it a day at a time. This is the point that we got to today, so this is the point that we need to get to tomorrow. The plan is flexible.
*In another post, Anne shares a more detailed explanation of her thoughts on Pop Star Camp and its importance.

MM: Now that you have a few years under your belt, what direction do you want to take the nonprofit?

AL: I would love to really create a performance-based program where kids can come in and really feel like they nailed their performance, not by being stressed and worried about it, but by being caught up in the joy of doing something and creating something and feeling like they have accomplished something. Getting up in front of people and singing is a big deal for a lot of people. I want them to feel proud about it when they do.

MM: What are some of your other hobbies?

AL: I like to go hiking in the desert, going to the movies, and reading. Also sitting in traffic on my way into Los Angeles.

MM: If you were stranded on a desert island, which album would you have with you?

AL: One of Mozart’s operas. Not only is the music good, but there would be a lot of things to try to memorize, analyze, and listen to.