Anyone who’s met our Teacher Feature Michael or seen him on stage knows that he’s not only extremely charismatic and likable, but he’s also an incredibly gifted singer and performer. He sings everything from classical, to Great American Song Book, to musical theatre, to singer-songwriter and has an impressive YouTube channel to prove it. Michael’s played a variety of roles on stage, and he’s also our beloved studio teacher in Costa Mesa on Monday mornings and afternoons. We’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about him from our students, so it’s no wonder his teaching schedule is packed. Listen to him sing this gorgeous, haunting song from Jason Robert Brown’s Parade.
MM: What instruments do you play, how did you get started with each one, and how long have you been playing them?
MG: I play piano, guitar and SING! I have played piano for over 20 years and started guitar lessons in middle school and have been singing for as long as I can remember.
MM: Who has inspired you musically?
MG: Growing up I was inspired by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Celine Dion. I was particularly inspired by a Christian singing group called Avalon. They had such amazing voices, and their harmonies and songs were incredible as well. I still remember listening to their vocal riffs over and over again and practicing along with them as a kid. These days I also find musical inspiration from a lot of musical theater and classical singers including Steven Pasquale, Kristin Chenoweth, and Luciano Pavarotti. I love their versatility, their artistry, and how much command they demonstrate of their instrument!
MM: What are some of your favorite instruments, and why?
MG: I love listening to the cello and to someone who can play mean jazz piano! I love the cello for its beautiful rich timbre and the expressiveness of string instruments, and I love what jazz piano can accomplish with harmonies and unique rhythms.
MM: What are you current musical projects?
MG: I am currently working on several classical projects, including various opera arias, and working on the role of Rodolfo in La Boheme for personal study. I also am working on developing my own unique style for some covers of songs that I like to work on and seeing how they turn out!
MM: How do you practice, and how do you balance music with some of your other life goals? How do you help your students practice?
MG: I try to practice every day, and I practice by first warming up with some vocal exercises and then applying some of my current technique focus to specific songs and repertoire. I currently work as a teacher, singer, church leader and am in graduate school, so I definitely have to work at how to balance my time and focus. I try to look at practicing as something that can be really helpful even if I only can do it for 15 to 20 minutes at times. I think that some practice is better than no practice, so I try to carve out even a little bit of time even if I don’t have time for a full 2-hour practice session each time I sing.
MM: What are some of your favorite roles that you’ve played?
MG: One of my favorite roles I played is Curly in Oklahoma, and Danny in the musical Baby. Both of these roles are very different, and one is very classical or legit in nature while the other is mostly pop singing. I like that both challenged a different part of my voice, and I also loved the score and the story for both shows!
MM: You’re pretty versatile vocally. What genres are you most comfortable in, and what would you say your favorite vocal genre is?
MG: Well, thank you. : ) I grew up singing pop, country, Christian music and R&B, so that is where I really first cut my teeth singing. I transitioned into singing more musical theater repertoire, which encompasses a wide variety of styles, so that helped me grow a lot vocally. Over the years though I have grown more and more comfortable (after much practice haha) with classical singing and I would say now that I love singing Great American Song Book, classical, theater music and singer-songwriter stuff the most. For my own music, I often think of my personal style as influenced by a combination of Michael Buble, Josh Groban, and Stevie Wonder.
MM: What are your top music goals?
MG: My top music goals are to record music more that I can share with others, perform one day with symphony orchestras around the U.S. and the world, and to sing for everything from churches to operas. (Maybe even at the Met!)
MM: If you were stranded on an island and could only have one album with you, what would it be?
MG: Yikes! That is a tough question. Can I say a mix tape? haha The first album that comes to mind is actually the soundtrack to the musical Big River. It is such a great score with a great variety of songs and styles, but I would have to say that a close second would be a recent live album by Kristin Chenoweth called Coming Home or Michael Buble’s album It’s time! I love both of those albums as well, and they are albums that I enjoy almost every track of and are both singers/artists that I really enjoy listening to.
MM: Anything else you want to add?
MG: Thanks for asking! Keep singing and/or playing and be patient with the process! Musical growth is a journey, so let’s all try to enjoy the ride!