“I love nerding out about voice science.”
Scottsdale’s Dr. Lauren Berman pokes a lot of fun at herself, but her “nerdiness” helps her provide the highest level of vocal training to her students.
And it’s why her new business – Authentic Voice Music Studio – is filling a need among the region’s young performers.
A lifelong singer and performer, Berman earned her doctorate in vocal performance from Arizona State University, a master’s degree in vocal performance from the Chicago College of Performing Arts and a bachelor’s in music education from Loyola University in New Orleans.
She also has completed numerous certificate programs in voice science, health, technique and general pedagogy – like Vocology in Practice, somatic voicework and even vocal yoga.
“There is nothing I love more than helping students unlock their potential,” Dr. Berman said. “Youth performers, especially, often try to imitate other singers. They think that’s the key to landing bigger and better roles on stage. I am so passionate about helping them discover and learn to master their own unique voice. That is the real key.”
“I’ve been working with Lauren for almost seven years now,” said student Katie Orrett, who started lessons with Berman when she was 18 and now works as a music therapist. “I had very low self-esteem in regard to my singing capabilities.
“Lauren not only helped me become a stronger singer, she helped me become more confident. Because of her genuine support and kindness, I no longer felt the need to constantly prove myself to others.”
For Berman, confidence is a big focus – as is good technique.
“We’re focusing on breath control, tension release and evidence-based vocal instruction,” she said. “So many kids and teens think they need to be the loudest or sing the highest belt, but without the right technique, there are real risks of injury. I’m here to help them create exactly the sound they want, but in a healthy and holistic way that ensures they’ll be able to sing now and forever.”
Berman began teaching at the university level in 2016 and has served as adjunct vocal faculty at Glendale Community College, Arizona State University and now at Scottsdale Community College.
“As her direct supervisor for five years, I was able to see and hear the progress of her students very directly,” said Carole FitzPatrick, voice area coordinator and associate professor of voice in the School of Music, Dance and Theater at Arizona State University. “She was trained originally as a classical singer but has since educated herself on all sorts of styles and teaching methods.”
Berman balances her faculty role with teaching students at her new studio. Indeed, her work in college vocal departments – not to mention her own undergraduate and post-grad education – helped inform the teaching model of Authentic Voice Music Studio.
“I have a real soft spot for the 13-18-year-old crowd,” she said. “These kids are working incredibly hard to nail auditions, land roles and compete at the highest levels. The work we do at Authentic Voice incorporates the very best aspects of high-level university and conservatory training programs to help students reach these lofty goals. It’s a proven model for growth.”
But Berman is quick to point out it’s not only about landing the role.
“Every single person is capable of learning how to sing. We all have the same physical structures; we just need to learn how to use them,” she said. “Whether you want to sing on stage or at home with your family, it is a powerful and beautiful skill – and sometimes it’s worth doing just because you love to do it.”
Adds Rachael Mikaksy, mom to 13-year-old Grace: “Lauren is such a gift. She really connects with my daughter and they have a lovely relationship. During teaching, she is gentle with corrections and guides her in the right direction with everything from pitch to song selection.”
Authentic Voice Music Studio, which opened in Tempe earlier this year, offers customized programs for youth and adults ages 5 and up. Young singers take weekly 30- or 45-minute private lessons with Berman.
Teens receive a 60-minute private lesson and a weekly group class modeled after studio classes in university vocal performance and musical theater degree programs.
“These weekly classes make all the difference,” she said. “Here, they work on their slating, try out new songs, practice performing their audition pieces and really develop their characters. When it’s time for a high-pressure audition, they are well prepared and can own the performance rather than fumbling with the words or feeling less than confident.”
Berman has done her share of auditioning and while she has some impressive credits to her name – like The Phoenix Theatre Company, Arizona Opera, New Orleans Opera, Chicago’s /kor/ productions and Arizona Regional Theatre – she also understands the difficulty of rejection.
“I have been down this road. I’m still on this road, in fact,” she said. “I walk alongside my students as they navigate their own journey. It’s so important that they know their lives are about so much more than one audition or one show, no matter how important it feels at the time. Healthy perspective is everything.”
Added student Stephanie Orrett, “I’ve taken singing lessons with Lauren for more than five years, starting when I was a sophomore in high school. I was incredibly nervous due to severe social anxiety and not really confident in my singing. It didn’t take long for Lauren to get me out of my shell while simultaneously improving many aspects of my voice.”
Today, Berman is performing with Valley theaters, continuing to teach at Scottsdale Community College and training budding and seasoned vocalists at Authentic Voice Music Studio.
“I don’t think I’ve slept in a year, but all of the training and work I’ve done to open this studio is absolutely worth it,” she said. “This is what I was born to do.”
“There is nothing I love more than helping students unlock their potential. Youth performers, especially, often try to imitate other singers. They think that’s the key to landing bigger and better roles on stage. I am so passionate about helping them discover and learn to master their own unique voice. That is the real key.”