Mary Jane Knight has been teaching private voice lessons and coaching singers for over twenty years. Her vocal students have studied Musical Theatre, Classical, Folk, Country, and Pop styles and have received roles both professional and educational, received top ratings in competitions, become All-State Choir members, recorded albums, and earned music scholarships for collegiate music study.
She believes firmly in the healing power of music and singing, and that finding your true voice can be transformative. She approaches voice lessons with a great amount of care and respect for the whole person and believes that everyone possesses the ability to learn to sing if given a safe space.
Mrs. Knight teaches older children, teenagers and adults from beginners to professionals, and has a great deal of experience playing and coaching Musical Theatre and Opera. She was an Adjunct Professor in the Theatre Department at the University of Memphis where she taught voice to musical theatre majors. She has also taught voice at Kirkwood College. She has extensive classical singing experience both performing and teaching. She also has experience performing and teaching belt and a wide array of vocal styles. Her piano skills are especially helpful if a singer is interested in preparing for auditions etc. as she is able to play the full accompaniments with singers. She offers weekly/bi-weekly, single or short term sessions. If preparing for an audition she can make audition accompaniment recordings, practice tracks and help student select and prepare 16/32 bar cuts.
Mary Jane teaches from her lovely home studio in Iowa City just three blocks north of downtown in the beautiful historic Harvat House. Please contact Mary Jane if you are interested in finding out about her rates and policies. A free 30 minute introductory lesson is available.
“I hadn’t sung in decades when I started working with Mary Jane to get my voice back in shape. She’s been so supportive helping me re-discover the joys of singing, and she’s introduced me to new vocal techniques I never knew about, much less thought I’d master.
I love the breadth of musical styles Mary Jane has introduced me to, from Handel to Patsy Cline!”Marie
“Gratitudes Day 17: Singing
Some backstory… I was born with hearing loss due to nerve damage and so have worn hearing aids since I was 4. Pretty much my whole life I’ve been lead to believe I couldn’t hear pitch or was tone-deaf. In school a friend in choir convinced me to try out for it. I went for a one on one with him and the music director tried having me sing “Silent Night” and I wasn’t getting it and he dismissed me. So, that reinforced that belief.
I mean, I liked to sing along to songs and stuff but was resigned to not doing it well or just by myself. I enjoy karaoke but one time out with friends someone in the group who meant well picked up a second mic to assist me, I decided that I should just stick to songs that were more spoken than sung or were more in my limited range.
I did try out for musicals and have actually been in some ensembles because while my singing may not have been the best, I can learn a dance routine. During the songs, I’d hold back almost to the point of lip syncing, so that I wouldn’t drag down the quality of the ensemble or be the one who was standing out.
So this past summer, I thought, well, maybe there’s some techniques I could learn that would help not be so sucky and at least not ‘hide’ on stage. I had one of Mary Jane Knight’s cards that she’d left in the City Circle green room while we were both in “Scarlet Pimpernel”, and it’d been sitting in a pile of other things around my desk. I reached out to her and explained my situation.
She agreed to meet with me and after some exercises and such, she informed me that not only could I sing, but I have a good voice.
So I started getting regular sessions with her, keeping it to myself until I was sure that maybe the first session wasn’t a fluke or something. We began working on some songs that I might be able to use in auditions. We used one early on until we decided maybe it wasn’t quite right for me yet. Now I have a couple that I feel comfortable with using for auditions.
Now, usually when I’m driving, I’m constantly looking for songs on the radio that I know and will try to sing with them, even if maybe they’re a bit out of my range. But I keep trying and pushing. Sometimes I just queue up some karaoke tracks on YouTube and try those. Now when I karaoke, I try to step out of my comfort zone and do songs that I don’t think I’d have been able to do before.
I’m very grateful to have a vocal coach like MJ, who has given me techniques and feedback and most importantly, confidence in singing.
A few weeks ago I joined the Eastern Iowa Quire, to get more practice with singing and boy, choirs are a whole new thing, but I’m learning a lot!
Earlier this week I auditioned for a show that I was pretty sure I didn’t have a shot at, but wanted to keep pushing for experience and getting out there. Lo and behold I was cast in “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”! So, I’m excited, terrified and all the feels and I owe a great deal of gratitude to MJ for everything she’s done. I’m grateful for her and vocal coaches who work to bring out voices in people. I’m only sorry I waited so long, but here’s to the future! “Brian
“In over 30 years of studying and performing, I have never had a better voice teacher than Mary Jane. From her ability to convey in plain language how to work with my instrument, to her thoughtful choice of repertoire, to her fantastic accompanying skills, Mary Jane is the entire package. I literally cannot recommend her highly enough and wish I had met her many years ago!”Adam W.