Kay began teaching privately in 1996 and coaching became a formal part of her duties at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2003.
“I began to specialize in coaching the singing actor at OSF largely by default,” Kay recalls. “We weren’t really doing musicals when I started, so singing experience was not emphasized in the casting process for actors. Of course, Shakespeare’s plays have quite a few songs in them and many of our composers wanted the actors to sing them. Sometimes the person cast was an experienced singer and only needed a little help with finding the right key, smoothing over a tricky passage, or learning a new genre. Sometimes the person had little or no singing experience at all; those actors needed help with basic technique and regular vocal sessions. Depending on the setting for the play, actors might be asked to sing in a language or style that was new to them and it was my job to help the composer and the singer arrive at the most successful result for the production.”
Her experience singing in the rehearsal halls, performance spaces and outdoor venues under a variety of conditions became very useful to actors who were new to the Rogue Valley. “We do long runs at this theater and actors are almost always cast in two or three shows for 6 to 10 months. Using healthy technique, knowing how to pace yourself and take care of your voice in this allergy-ridden valley can make or break your singing experience here.”
Kay teaches quite a few talented amateur singers as well. “I always tell my students, both amateur and professional, that my real job is to do myself out of a job! I teach a technique that is straightforward, healthy and informed. I am constantly pushing my students to focus on what is happening in their body when they sing, both good and bad, so they can eventually pinpoint and solve their own technical challenges. I don’t use imagery or visualizations very much; I’m more likely to reach for the anatomy book. I’ve found and created exercises to help singers with their breaks, their range, their vowel clarity, and so forth.”
If there is one thing singers should know before they consider contacting Kay for lessons, it’s this: “I don’t play piano well enough to accompany anyone. I can play students through their exercises, individual vocal lines, and sometimes a few chords. If a singer is looking for someone to take them through a lot of literature, experiment with different arrangements, or accompany them for an audition, then I’m not the coach for them. There are a lot of coaches out there that can play piano really well. What I offer is concentrated technical work, a supportive, honest process and nearly thirty-five years of performance experience.”
Kay has sung and/or coached singers in the following languages:
Modern languages: English (American and British), Spanish, French, Italian, Latin, German, Czech, Hindi, Swahili, Welsh, and Portuguese.
Ancient languages: 12th through 16th English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian, as well as Latin.
Kay has sung and/or coached singers in the following genre:
Classical: Early, Romantic, Impressionist, Opera, Operetta, Twelve Tone, Serialism, and Avant Garde.
Early Music: 11th c. Chant, Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque.
Other: Musical Theater, Gospel, Folk (British Isles, European, African, South American), Jazz, and Early Pop.