in their own words

Hannah Reich, class of 2018 / Reinhardt class of 2021

Delaney Graham, class of 2018 / Duke University class of 2022

Mary Martha Wiggers, class of 2014 / Brown class of 2018

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In the three years I had the joy of studying voice with Erin Shepherd-Murray in high school, she introduced me to the beauty and joy of classical music. It is because of her that I am now pursuing my undergraduate degree in vocal performance, with the aspiration to sing in professional opera companies and eventually teach voice— like Erin. When I first came to Erin I sang with an airier, girlish tone and was convinced from years of singing in choirs that I was a soprano because I could “sing high”. Erin taught me how to sing with core, using a complete breath to create a full sound. She led me to discover that I had a rich, warm mezzo-soprano voice with more color to it than I ever thought I could access. It is evident in all the years I have studied with her that Erin has a love for the art of voice pedagogy. She is constantly learning and coming to lessons with innovation in her teaching. Her use of straws helped me navigate my upper passaggio without overblowing air, and her understanding of facial structure and the zygomatic arches helped me discover the “ping” or “cut” of my sound. Her understanding of vocal science and the physical vocal mechanism is an important part of her teaching, and I could not be more grateful for the healthy vocal foundation she built for me as I went into my years of studying voice in college. Throughout my time studying with her, Erin introduced me to countless opportunities at competitions and summer programs, and she always went the extra mile to help as I navigated the college audition process. Erin teaches the whole person with a kindness and patience that frees not only our voices, but ourselves from whatever fears are holding us back from performing at our best. Her joy and enthusiasm in every lesson is contagious, and she has given me a love for opera, classical music, and voice pedagogy that has shaped the trajectory of my life.  

Mary Martha Wiggers, class of 2014 / Brown class of 2018

Delaney Graham, class of 2018 / Duke University class of 2022

Mary Martha Wiggers, class of 2014 / Brown class of 2018

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I started taking lessons with Erin the summer before my senior year, just months after having surgery on my vocal folds [for nodes]. Erin and I were essentially starting from scratch. Erin always emphasized that singing is a skill, not just a talent that only a select few are born with. Through working hard on technique and singing healthily, I went from barely having a singing voice to getting the lead several months later in my high school production of South Pacific.

Erin not only emphasizes technique; she also stresses that each voice is unique and therefore needs to be treated differently. Sometimes we’ll try five different exercises until we find one that makes my voice sound the best it can. She is always looking for the most brilliant sound produced in the healthiest way possible.

Delaney Graham, class of 2018 / Duke University class of 2022

Delaney Graham, class of 2018 / Duke University class of 2022

Cate O'Kelley, class of 2018 / Washington and Lee class of 2022

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My past six years with Erin moved incredibly fast, but every moment I spent with her helped me grow into the singer and adult I am becoming today. Lessons with Erin taught me so much about music, but also so much about myself. Erin is always kind and supportive of everything I do, no matter what. While I may not be majoring in music in college, I know that I will carry everything I've learned from her with me throughout my future. 

Cate O'Kelley, class of 2018 / Washington and Lee class of 2022

Cate O'Kelley, class of 2018 / Washington and Lee class of 2022

Cate O'Kelley, class of 2018 / Washington and Lee class of 2022

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I will always be grateful to Erin for teaching me about so much more than voice. She made me not just a better singer, but a better person. 

Laura Coe, class of 2015 / SCAD class of 2019

Cate O'Kelley, class of 2018 / Washington and Lee class of 2022

Laura Coe, class of 2015 / SCAD class of 2019

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Over the years that I have learned under Erin’s guidance, I have noticeably improved as a singer and become more confident in my technique. Erin is very friendly and open: the best one-on-one teacher I have ever had!

Layne Smith, Adult Student

Cate O'Kelley, class of 2018 / Washington and Lee class of 2022

Laura Coe, class of 2015 / SCAD class of 2019

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Knowing and working with Erin Shepherd Murray changed my life! I have gone from someone who at one time only dreamed of singing as a child, but was too afraid to do anything about it, to someone who now records and is frequently invited to sing at different events. I know for a fact that I owe an amazing amount of gratitude to what I have learned from Erin. She has an incredible depth of knowledge in her craft, and an uncanny ability to explain and “get across” techniques that are sometimes vague and difficult to explain.

For example, I struggled endlessly for quite some time with breathing techniques and actually having “enough” air at times to complete phrases.  One day while working with Erin and again suffering the same inability to have adequate breath, she looked at me and simply said, “Let yourself become fat with air.” Instantly I knew exactly what she meant!! It was a moment of pure joy, freedom and clarity.

I have been “under Erin’s wing” now for seven years, and I will happily continue learning and gleaning every tidbit of knowledge, inside information and support she can give me. I highly, most highly, recommend studying with her. If you are passionate about singing, eager to learn, and dreaming of overcoming anything that could possibly be holding you back, your time spent studying with Erin will be a reward that you reap for many years to come.