Study Contemporary Voice at NYU Steinhardt

The Vocal Performance major at NYU offers a new concentration in contemporary voice

Students majoring in Vocal Performance at NYU have a new concentration they can choose to pursue. In addition to concentrations in classical voice and music theatre, NYU Steinhardt now offers a concentration in contemporary voice. According to Professor Ana Flavia Zuim, the academic director of the NYU Steinhardt Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions, “Helping our students find their voices—both literally and figuratively—is one of the key components of our program.”

Student on stage singing with a microphone in their hand.
Student on stage singing into microphone while playing the guitar.

A Contemporary Focus

While the classical voice concentration teaches students to sing in the classical style required to perform operatic roles and the music theatre concentration equips students to thrive in the competitive field of musical productions at the Broadway level, the new concentration in contemporary voice will provide singers with the tools needed to pursue a career in the contemporary commercial music scene or the skills to become a background or ensemble vocalist.

One student wearing headphones listen to music, while another student plays the piano.
A ballet class with a group of students following the professor’s instruction at the front.

What You’ll Study

Contemporary voice students explore movement, acting, and dance and practice voice training with working industry professionals. You’ll take classes in speech and diction, auditioning and business skills, and stagecraft. Every semester, the program offers a series of contemporary vocal workshops in areas such as performance skills, vocal production, song analysis and interpretation, and microphone and recording techniques. You may also take electives in music business, music technology, and music education, or add a minor in another area of interest based on advisement.

And you’ll have the chance to participate in NYU’s ensembles led by some of today’s top contemporary vocalists, including Janis Siegel of The Manhattan Transfer and well-known singer-songwriter Janice Pendarvis. This semester, vocal performance star Vanessa Williams joins the program as a dean’s scholar-in-residence, a role in which she will provide counsel and feedback to students in the program through events and Q&A sessions. And because of the hybrid and cross-stylistic nature of Steinhardt’s vocal performance program, students have the opportunity to audition for a number of staged productions and ensembles throughout the semester.

During their final semester, all students perform in a fully staged concert. They also perform in a showcase attended by New York City’s greatest music industry professionals.

Throughout your degree, you’ll build a strong foundation in vocal technique so that you can prepare to enter whichever area of vocal performance you wish to pursue.

 

Times Square with numerous billboards.
Aerial view of New York City’s skyline.

Find Your Voice in New York City

“Our students not only learn from the most renowned professionals in the city, but they also get to be in New York,” says Professor Zuim. Students often get the chance to work with professional composers—from New York City cultural institutions like Broadway or the Metropolitan Opera—who provide mentorship and give them professional exposure, as well as professionals with remarkable careers in the contemporary music industry.

By approaching the study of voice from every angle—from anatomy and physiology to functionality and acoustics—students gain a complete understanding of how the human voice works. They also learn how to make theirs sustainable—whether they are performing in a demanding operatic role or in several shows a week. Through acting and dance classes, they discover how to integrate their vocal performance with these art forms.

“This is one of the few programs in the country where you’ll find a place not only to develop your ability to use your voice sustainably and efficiently but also have the opportunity to train as a hybrid vocalist, crossing over different styles and genres.”—Professor Ana Flavia Zuim

Practice and Perform

All three concentrations in the BM in Vocal Performance provide a liberal arts core, with courses in the humanities, social sciences, and quantitative reasoning, that you can apply to a variety of fields. And all give students numerous opportunities to audition for fully staged productions and concerts, including musicals, operas, and smaller-scale productions in which they receive guidance from experienced directors, choreographers, conductors, and designers. By the time they graduate, students are confident and prepared to succeed in the industry.