Voice studies at VCU Music focus on developing the highest possible level of performance while providing the essential context of a well-rounded music education. We encourage you to learn more about studying voice at VCU.
Degree programs and curriculum
Students who complete the music curriculum in voice can receive a Bachelor of Music with a concentration in performance and an emphasis in voice, a Bachelor of
Music with a concentration in Music Education and a choral emphasis, or a
Bachelor of Arts in Music. For more information on degree requirements, see the curriculum guidelines for the B.A. [PDF] and the vocal performance concentration [PDF]. Once accepted into one of the programs, all voice students participate in weekly master classes, which serve as informal performance laboratories. Music majors also attend weekly convocations that offer students an opportunity to perform in a concert setting.
Vocal coaching is available to all voice majors. The studio voice teacher works principally on vocal technique, guiding the singer toward freer and more beautiful singing while the vocal coach helps singers polish their pieces for performance by working with all aspects of style, language, communication and interpretation.
Performance studies culminate in presenting both junior and senior recitals while music education majors perform a junior recital.
In addition to the core curriculum, vocal performance majors take additional courses in song literature, voice pedagogy, opera theater, lyric diction and foreign language. Choral music education majors study lyric diction and the music education curriculum, which includes choral methods and rehearsal techniques. Music education majors may also take opera theater and additional vocal electives as time permits.
The success of our program is demonstrated by the consistently strong showing of our students and alumni in major regional and national competitions, as well as the number of VCU graduates performing on the international stage. In recent years, our graduates have performed at the New York City Opera, Opera Bastille (France), Vienna State Opera (Austria), Glyndebourne Opera (England), Houston Grand Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, among many others. Many of our graduates have gone on to pursue advanced degrees at institutions such as the Manhattan School of Music, New England Conservatory, Eastman School of Music, Peabody Conservatory and Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music.
Our voice majors in music education successfully take their performing skills into the classroom with at 100 percent job placement rate. Their choral ensembles regularly receive the highest ratings in competitions and state festivals. Many of our music education graduates have taken state and regional leadership positions in VMEA and ACDA.
Guest artists and master classes
VCU’s voice faculty and students maintain close ties with professional arts organizations in the greater Richmond community and beyond. The Virginia Opera regularly conducts seminars for voice students in both a master class setting and in the VCU Opera program. Guest artists with the Mary Anne Rennolds concert series also present master classes. In addition, VCU Opera hosts guest artist workshops and master classes on a regular basis.
Additional opportunities for singers in Richmond are provided by area churches and synagogues, where many VCU voice students hold positions as paid soloists and section leaders.
Interested in auditioning? Please view the voice audition tips.
- Cynthia Donnell, associate professor, area coordinator, voice
- Melanie Kohn Day, assistant professor, VCU Opera, vocal coach
- Kenneth Wood, assistant professor, voice
- L. Wayne Batty, professor emeritus, voice
- Michelle Harman Gulick, voice
- Anne Guthmiller, voice
- James Smith-Parham, voice and vocal coach
- James Taylor, voice