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June 2013 Teacher Spotlight

J. Adam Shelton
Voice Teacher, Heid Music Madison

_MG_4872[1]Dr. J. Adam Shelton, lyric tenor, maintains a bustling private studio at Heid Music with students starting as young as 7 and continuing well into adulthood!  Currently, Adam is finishing his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin while balancing an active performance career!  Adam strives to instill a versatile technique in his students allowing them to sing a variety of styles comfortably while discovering their musical passions from classical to jazz to Broadway.  Group lessons are available for students 6 to 11 (maximum of 3 students per lesson) and private lessons for individuals over 11.  Contact him today for a free 30-minute introductory lesson!


How did you discover your voice, and what made you decide to pursue vocal training?
 Singing has always been my first love!  I took piano lessons, played trumpet, and sang in choirs from elementary school through high school, but none of them made me happier than singing!  During high school, my voice matured late, so I received a recommendation to a voice teacher who, patiently, helped me sort out my voice.  After 18 months or so, she recommended I learn my first couple of art songs (classical songs) and audition for University of TN's music program.  The songs fit like a glove and really opened my voice in a positive way.  The rest is history!  

What got you hooked on opera?
I, like many, thought my teacher had lost her mind when she said things could work out well for me in the operatic world.  My career in opera allows me to combine a myriad of interests:  languages, stories, travel, and, of course, singing.  I have a fascination for languages and learning in general, but operas  in German, Czech, Russian, Chinese, etc.  all fascinate me!  Many cultures share similar stories (Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and the like) but elements are different in each, AND it's great to learn and hear the different languages!  Opera is a mobile career and can take you wherever you want to go, and see whatever you want to see!  I've been to Russia, Italy, sung across the U.S. and made friends all over the world!  
What makes you a great teacher?
I have knowledge, experience, and patience.  I come from a lineage of great singers and great teachers.  At Heid, I am familiar with every vocal music book that is sold, and can find something for everyone.  My motto is, "With a song for every occasion!" for a reason!
What is the best musical tip you ever received?
Never stop learning!!  
The greatest challenge in being a singer is: 
Cold and flu season. Many folks take for granted that as a singer, you are your instrument.  If you feel sick, it affects everything from your brain to your feet.  There are many mind over matter moments in singing, and when you're sick it's war!!

A live music performance you've attended and will never forget is: 
I saw my favorite Broadway singer, Linda Eder, perform in April 2012 in Milwaukee. She sang some of her Broadway stuff, some jazz, some country, even Adele! I had a blast listening to the concert (and being on the list to meet her afterwards!). It's always refreshing and exciting to hear live singing.
What are some of your favorite films?
Christopher Guest never seems to disappoint me, Kevin Smith films too, but if I could only live with three: (1)Young Frankenstein, (2) Clue, and (3) one of the Sister Act movies (I'm a sucker for nuns who sing Motown...)
What are three things you can't live without?
(1) My iPhone - calendar, music, phone, email all-in-one without it I'd be lost; (2) a caramel macchiato from Starbucks; and (3) my immersion blender (you must own one to understand its numerous uses)!

If you could perform with any singer, retired or deceased, who would it be? 
I imagine Beverly Sills and I would have gotten along great, not to mention how phenomenally talented she was!!
If you weren’t a singer, what profession would you be in? 
I actually started undergrad as a deaf education major. I practiced interpreting the radio, songs, and tv in my spare time and decided to switch over to my other passion, music, and lucked myself into a good undergrad music program!

What role do you wish you could sing that you could never sing because it’s the wrong voice type/gender? 
I think Tosca could be fun. Plus you get to jump over the edge at the end, who wouldn't love that??
Describe your favorite moment on stage. 
My favorite moment is when the music stops, and there's that split second of silence. That silence that allows you to feel the electricity of the performance and the audience erupts. Aside from all the other amazing moments that can happen on stage, that moment always thrills me.
One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer).
Where's the coolest place being a singer has taken you?  I have been to Italy and Russia, and they were awesome experiences. Except I was mugged in Russia, that wasn't cool, but everything else in Russia was great!!
What do you like to do in your spare time, outside of music?

I really enjoy playing tennis!  I am not very good but every now and again I pull a great Andre Agassi style play.  I like to cook and am working on several skills and dishes.  I like things full of flavor!  I try to craft things, but my creative gifts were obviously dealt elsewhere!

What one parent said about Adam's teaching:
Adam has taught my eldest daughter Lily (11) for almost a year. We’ve started voice because Lily was always singing in the car to pop songs, but with Adam’s help, Lily is finding she has a nice soprano voice. The lessons give her confidence in her singing and in herself. Each week she looks forward to her time with Adam and she even does all her homework. Earlier this spring, we started my youngest daughter Julia (6) in Adam’s group class for younger vocalists. Julia is also enjoying her lessons. Because she is young, it’s easy to get distracted during class. Adam does a great job of keeping the girls focused and learning. Julia comes out of her lessons with work to do and a smile on her face. We found Adam randomly, but it’s because of him voice is such a positive experience for my girls. The girls think they are just having fun, but all the while they are both growing in self-confidence and vocal strength. I’m very grateful it’s Adam, in particular, teaching my children.

- MaryAnn Knoke, parent to Lily (11) and Julia (6)