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Student Spotlight

Brendan C.

Meet Brendan, this month’s Student Spotlight, a vocal student of Michael G’s, who’s motivated, multi-talented, and hardworking. Not only is he a singer active in the Newport Harbor Vocal Ensemble, but he’s also a trumpet player and a member of his school’s Jazz Band. Brendan hopes to one day go into the music education field, and with his wide-ranging taste in music and unique skill set, we know he’ll be a positive force in the lives of his students.

Q & A with Brendan

MM: How did you get started with music, and how long have you been singing? What made you want to start lessons?

BC: I got my start with music in the sixth grade when our music teacher, Mr. Squyres, offered the opportunity to join the choir at our school and have practices on Wednesdays at lunch. Ever since then my love for singing and all music has grown tremendously since then. Once I promoted from elementary school to middle school I kept with the choir and in seventh grade I learned much more about singing and how to use my voice in Mrs. Grenier’s choir elective. Eighth grade year I wanted to take Spanish so I was not in choir for that year. But once freshman year of high school came around I signed up as soon as I could. This year I also joined the band which helped to improve my musical knowledge. I have continued to have choir at Newport Harbor since. I actually hadn’t though about taking lessons at all until my sixteenth birthday when I did not know what to ask my parents to get me so they surprised me with a vocal lesson to see if I would enjoy it and maybe consider continuing the lessons.

MM: Who are a few bands/artists that have inspired you, and why? Are there any singers that really influence the way you sing?

BC: Some bands that have inspired me throughout my life have been The Beatles, Queen, and Coldplay. These bands have all inspired me because of the amount of emotion and inspiration with which they create there music and the way they perform it.  I have always, always been influenced by all of John Lennon’s music and have always wanted to be like him and have a voice like his.

MM: What ways do you share your music? Do you like performing? I don’t have the video on me, but there was one part of Good Grief where you were speaking through it – I really like how you pulled that off! Can you tell me about how preparing for that went, and how the performance itself felt? Hope you got some pizza!

BC: The ways that I share my music are with performances and solos in the Newport Harbor Vocal Ensemble and any other performances I get the chance to sing at. While public speaking and plays and other things of that nature are not my forte, music always has been. I love to perform and although something else might make me nervous, sharing my musical talent and ability has always been something I enjoy, love, and aspire to do.

While practicing and preparing for the performance I was only able to get one session in before the actual performance with Michael, so I made the most of it and practiced as much as I could at home. At the performance, I knew I was ready. I was fully prepared and knew I wouldn’t choke. So when it was my turn to sing I just walked onto the stage and sang my heart out.

MM: You’ve been with Michael for six months now – congrats! What techniques/things were you two focusing on at the start, compared to now? Any particular skills or song that were a particular challenge you can share about, and how you’ve been overcoming them?

BC: When I first began practicing with Michael before anything else he wanted me to learn the most beneficial way of breathing for a singer. He showed me all the techniques and I learned some other very valuable information about creating a more open sound as well. Now after warming up we usually just hop right into whatever song that I want to practice that day and he helps me find better ways of singing the song with my own voice.

I have had trouble with keeping my tongue back and using it to enunciate my vowels. To help improve that I just constantly think about it and practice it whenever I get the chance.

MM: What advice would you give to other students just starting out? Any tips for performance anxiety, or practice habits?

BC: To anyone who is just joining I would say they’ve made a step in the right direction and will gain a lot from the experience. I would say to remember never to give up and to  keep their head held high. Performance anxiety is only bad if you let it affect you. To anyone who has trouble with that I would recommend practice, and I would recommend that if they are confident in what they do outside of a performance then they should be confident of what they will do in one.

MM: What makes you keep up your practice? Are you involved in music outside of the songs you do for lessons? What would you like to achieve during lessons, or any bigger goals?

BC: I keep up my practice because I am always trying to improve and grow as a singer. And they only way to do that is practice. Outside of my lessons I am entirely involved in music at my school. I am in the marching and concert band and the choir. I also just recently joined the jazz band at Newport Harbor. Music is my passion and it is what I love more than anything in this world. During lessons my only goal is to improve. Whatever I need to improve I will tirelessly work until I have it perfect.

MM: Obviously, you’re more than just a singer. What kinds of hobbies do you have? Any favorite classes, or thoughts about careers that you’re curious about? I know you’re over at Newport Harbor, what grade are you starting this year?

BC: My hobbies consist of playing and practicing my trumpet skills and playing League of Legends. In school my favorite academic class is AP Physics: Mechanics, and my favorite non-academic class is Jazz Band. Since freshman year I have known that I want to be involved in music education whether that be teaching and directing a marching and concert band, teaching choir, or both. This year I started my Junior year, and I am excited to continue my journey into learning more and more about all kinds of music.

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