Music teacher passionate about students learning to read music
Singer Hilary Feldman will teach reading of sheet music in an upcoming Stevenson High School continuing education class. | Courtesy of Hilary Feldman.
Updated: April 1, 2013 2:04AM
LINCOLNSHIRE — Citing musical influences from John Bucchino and Ann Hampton Callaway through Mary Chapin Carpenter and Straight No Chaser, singer and music instructor Hilary Feldman will teach other performers how to read the sheet music they vocalize.
Her “Musicianship for Singers” class, offered through Stevenson High School’s P.R.E.P. continuing-education series, begins Feb. 5.
Q: How did you get involved in teaching this class?
A: As a professional vocalist and private voice instructor, I have been frustrated over the years with the fact that so many singers, even many working professionally in musical theatre or as solo artists, do not read music. It gives all singers a bad reputation amongst musicians.
When a student learns any other instrument, they are taught to read music. I’ve never understood why the same is not universally expected of singers.
Q: What sort of musical talents do you have?
A: First and foremost, I’m a singer. I perform as a solo cabaret artist regularly, around Chicago and throughout the country. In addition, I’m a voice instructor/coach. I play the piano pretty well...well enough to accompany my students. I played flute from age 10 through early college and still dabble with that from time to time. My husband and I have taught ourselves ukulele and have fun with that together.
Q: Sheet music is a universal language — it is spoken around the world, but every culture creates its own dialect. In a world where measurements, electrical outlets, car designs, clothing styles and all types of other universal needs are different all over the planet, how did music come to be written the same way everywhere?
A: I don’t completely know the answer to this, but I expect it is that music, like math, is a language, rather than an object. The need to communicate across boarders required a standardization, which evolved over many years. In the scientific world, the only way to communicate universally is through the language of mathematics. In music, the only way to communicate universally is through a standardized notation. Having said that, musical notation is not as universal as mathematics. There are different musical systems in the world. Our Western, well-tempered, 12-notes-to-the-chromatic-scale system is just one of several. Western music is all notated basically the same way, with small variations. But Middle Eastern music, for instance, uses microtones — musical intervals smaller than our Western half step or, if you will, notes in between the piano keys — and, thus, must be notated differently.
Q: Has the ability to read music given you common ground for communication with someone who you would not otherwise have met? Or, has it not created much common ground with other cultures for you?
A: Not in earth-shattering ways, but yes. My teaching has taken me to the University of York in England, as well as to several places closer to home. When my CD first came out, it became popular in cabaret circles in Australia for a short time, and I communicated with some fans there.
Being able to speak the language of music, a concrete system for something extremely ethereal, has enriched my life.