Teaching & Pedagogy

Freedom is at the heart of why we study singing. A singer may feel their body is resisting their intentions, or a singer may sense that a certain knowledge or mastery is what stands between them and the ability to transcend where they are right now. As a teacher, I aspire to see the full potential of every singer and to draw out what it is that will free them as artists.

I started my academic career at Lawrence University as a student of eminent pedagogues Ken Bozeman and later Karen Leigh-Post. I pursued graduate degrees at the University of Minnesota with John De Haan and coached closely there with pianist Margo Garrett and privately with early-music specialist Ellen Hargis in Chicago. I’ve benefited from intensely acoustic approaches, as well as the study of style as rhetoric, traditional bel canto training, and neuroscience conditioning.

With my own students, I listen and observe first. Good alignment and finding where muscular response is undermining intention are both fundamental. Alongside vocal technique always is a concern for decision-making. It’s my conviction that a singer who intends to have a long performance life will be stronger by learning to be their own teacher, and part of my process for bringing singers closer to that ideal is to create an environment where students are increasing sensitivity for how their body and voice work together and what tools they have for expression and when and how those tools support the music that they sing.

While I teach the full range of classical vocal repertoire, from Hildegard von Bingen to Kaija Saariaho, I particularly specialize in Renaissance, Baroque, and contemporary classical music. I encourage students to study improvisation of all kinds, electronics, and music in languages and from traditions outside the typically strict western European canon. Exploration is at the heart of everything that I do.

Coaching at Quincestitute Summer Residency, 2023

Academic Courses Taught

Vocal Pedagogy

This course introduces undergraduates and graduate students to the fundamentals of physiology, psychoacoustics, and voice instruction from scientific and experiential perspectives, providing practical techniques for addressing voice function throughout the human life cycle.

Beginning Vocal Repertoire: Italian and English Song Repertoire

Students explore the history of vocal music for solo voice in Italian and English, beginning with lute song through the present day. Students will learn about resources for finding and exploring music and research ideas for concert programming.

Advanced Vocal Repertoire: Pre-19th-Century solo vocal music

Students perform in class while learning about pre-19th-century perfromance practice, the expressive language of Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo musical forms and ornamentation.

Advanced Vocal Repertoire: 20th/21st-Century solo vocal music

Students perform in class while learning about key innovations in vocal music, including graphic notation, aleatoric design, crossover between popular and classical styles, and more.


Grantwriting introduces students to the world of grant funding for musical projects and the key skills needed to successfully seek funding for one’s artistic endeavors. Topics covered will include how to find grants, how to read Requests for Proposals (RFPs), how to find common ground beween your artistic vision and funders’ visions, and the basics of selecting work samples.

Original Interpretation

In the course of a musician’s career, we are sometimes faced with the challenge of interpreting a work that has never been recorded – or perhaps performed – before, whether that be a premiere of a newly composed work or the revival of a forgotten work from the past. In this course, students will learn how to establish an exploratory process for interpretive choice and end the course with an archival recording of an unrecorded or rarely recorded work.

Private Instruction

Dr. Shaw works with all voices types in degree programs including undergraduate voice performance and music education, and master’s and doctoral candidates in voice performance and choral conducting.

Dr. Shaw is available for coachings and special projects. Contact her here.