In the village of East Sandwich is a place where singers, young and old, are learning music from a man who has devoted his life to singing and teaching voice. John Murelle is the real deal. He hosted an Open House last weekend at his studio, a cozy, inviting room on the second floor in East Sandwich on Route 6A.
John extended a warm greeting to his many visitors, who were entertained by John Salerno playing lively tunes on the piano. At one point, pianist Lucy Banner joined him for an impromptu duet. A drawing for two private voice lessons was offered along with homemade cookies.
Several years ago I met John through the New Church in Yarmouth Port, where we led summer services for the Swedenborg Church that were arranged by Walter Chapin. John sang solo baritone and sometimes a duet with soprano Joan Kirchner. The magic of their music remains in my memory, though sadly these summer services are no longer held. Later I heard his students sing at First Night in Chatham and was impressed by the caliber of their voices and the variety of music they sang.
John’s passion for teaching comes through in his words that illuminate the process of developing vocal proficiency. He bills his studio as “Vocal Instruction for the Serious Student.” “It’s not that we don’t laugh or have fun during a lesson,” John explained, “but that I believe whether they are children, young adults or retirees, that there is a lot to study and to learn. For the first 30 minutes we practice breathing and vocal exercises to create volume. My students learn to project their natural voices without a microphone. I also teach ear training, sight reading and all the key signatures, major and minor.”
John showed a picture of his students, posed in formal black dress, naming each one and speaking proudly of their futures as they pursue musical careers and training in conservatories and universities. Not only does he keep in touch with his students in their continued studies and professional careers in places ranging from New York to California, he also maintains relationships with potential schools, many of which look forward to hearing his students audition.
The Voice Studio’s students sing in numerous venues on Cape Cod including Falmouth Chorale, Cape Cod Chorale, Chatham Chorale, The Academy Playhouse in Orleans, Falmouth Theatre Guild, Cotuit Center for the Arts, Barnstable Comedy Club and Cape Cod Opera, as well as high school theater productions, local churches and nursing homes.
John’s philosophy of teaching is a balance between enjoyment and commitment. “Everyone has a right to sing. Everyone comes with a unique personality so I teach to the person, focusing on what they need to grow as a singer and which pieces of music will help them improve. I believe in giving them an aesthetic feel for what is good. There is an audience for every voice. You don’t need to copy or recreate another’s voice. You must find your own, whether you are singing jazz, classical or Broadway.”
There are many opportunities to hear John perform on the Cape. He is on the staff at St. Mary’s Church in Barnstable where he sings at the 10 a.m. Sunday liturgy. He has been performing for 20 years and has a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Michigan, a master’s in vocal performance from Boston Conservatory and a diploma from the Opera Institute at Boston University.
“We are all on the same road. I am just further down the road.”
Upcoming Performances: A Night of Jazz, First Night Sandwich, 5 p.m. Dec. 31.
First Church of Christ, Sandwich, All-Italian Recital, 3 p.m. Jan. 18, First Church of Christ, Sandwich.
The Voice Studio of John Murelle can be reached at 774-313-9012 or at www.jmurelle.com.