"I have been a professional singer for 40 years, living in both Europe and the US. I have almost always studied voice to further my technique. Each of the teachers have taught me something, some more than others. Dana Varga is the best teacher of them all. She is not only a superb singer herself but she is fascinated by vocal technique and has made a comprehensive study of it her life’s work. She understands the workings of the human voice and how it applies to different voice categories and Fachs and individual singers. She has a lovely demeanor and is a delight to work with to boot. I highly recommend her to anyone in the Boston area."
- Peter Halpern, Tenor [written May 2019]
“Studying with Dana Varga has completely changed my voice for the better. I had not taken lessons in many years before I studied with her and felt as though my voice had 'peaked' and I would never be able to make improvements. Not only have her clear, analytical teaching style and detailed technical approach completely redefined my sound, but her career coaching, objective advice, and warm encouragement have all given me newfound faith in my career as a professional singer—all without encouraging unrealistic expectations. I walk into each audition room with both confidence and pragmatism, and thanks to Dana I am performing more often than ever before. It is impossible to overstate how much she has completely transformed my vocal health and stamina. She is a world class teacher, performer and human being.”
- Laura Intravia, Soprano [written May 2019]
“I have worked with Dana for a year and a half. From the first lesson I had with her she diagnosed and designed the perfect route to the transformation we’ve accomplished. I came from a musical theater background outside of the US in which very unhealthy phonation and messy diction had been not only customary, but also encouraged. She has helped me change that. She has also helped me notice when I regress, and how to address the concept or concepts that need attention. I met Dana when I was applying for an MM in Opera Performance. I could not be going through that degree without her instruction. Her insight and experience truly are a beacon in my journey as a singer. Every lesson with Dana feels like success.”
- Eduardo Gonzalez, Tenor [written May 2019]
While I was Director of Choral Activities at Mount Holyoke College, I noticed that teaching was taking a toll on my singing voice. I could not model for my students as easily and my speaking voice was becoming more easily fatigued. I had also suffered a vocal injury in my early 20s, so I was concerned about causing irreparable harm. That is when I sought out a new voice teacher. Since beginning my studies with Dana in 2013, my singing is more consistent, easeful, and beautiful. Her mastery of vocal technique—rooted in both traditional treatises alongside the latest science—and her ability to explain technique in a no-nonsense, creative way has empowered me with the tools to develop my instrument. The sign of a truly great teacher is their ability to give their students the foundation to succeed on their own, and that is certainly how I feel about studying with Dana. In my mid-20s I never thought I would sing professionally, and now in my mid-30s I am singing with professional choral ensembles across the country and as a soloist. I also use Dana's exercises and technical cues keep my voice healthy on teaching days and to improve the group sound of my choral ensembles. Dana keeps me curious about new ways to think about singing, and this passion keeps me invested in my own practice. I am indebted to Dana for my success as a teacher and as a singer.
- Lindsay Pope, Mezzo-Soprano [written May 2019]
"I have been working with Dana for 6 months now and I am so incredibly happy she was recommended to me through several people including a well-known coach in Boston and a mutual friend. I have been studying voice for almost 20 years and most recently finished my Master of Music in Voice at the prestigious Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. I have studied with many accomplished voice teachers, several of which have had careers at the Metropolitan Opera, and I mention this only to say that I have found Dana to be more pragmatic and direct in her approach to teaching technique and building the voice from the ground up than any other teacher I have studied with. Dana has empowered me with knowing how to practice and train my voice so that I can achieve a level of artistry and vocal health that is sustainable and rewarding. I hear richer texture and more freedom in my voice and though I still have a few months to go before I feel secure in this natural, open technique I really trust her instruction and foresight into where my voice has the capacity to go. I find Dana to be very steady and dedicated to crafting a plan for each student no matter what their current education or ability. It means so much to me to be able to study with someone who I feel listens to what I have to say and comes to the table with solutions and ideas all while staying cognizant of the deeply sacred value singing has in my life and in the relationship between student and teacher."
- Kirstin Olson, soprano
"After pursuing an undergraduate degree at Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, I took 13 years off from singing. When I made the decision that I was ready to sing again, I had absolutely no idea where to begin. I tried a couple of teachers, but technically speaking I was looking for something specific. A trusted friend and colleague of Dana's recommended that I try a lesson with her. Going on two years later, I have never been happier. Not only is she a masterful technician who delivers precise and relatable information, but I feel that she has a genuine interest in her students. Because of my lengthy hiatus, I have many questions about language, repertoire, audition choices, etc. Dana never hesitates to provide me with the answers and guidance that allow me to make well informed decisions. Technically speaking, we have done quite a bit of deconstruction. Although there is more work ahead of us, I am thrilled with my new, freer technique. Returning to the field as an adult singer, I have notes in my range now that did not exist in my early twenties. Dana is teaching me how to use these ’new‘ parts of my voice. I have also gained greater dynamic control which is extremely exciting. I am entering auditions with a new level of confidence due to Dana’s extraordinary instruction, and I know that I will be successful if I stick with her!"
-Shaunna Lucas, soprano
"Since starting lessons with Dana less than a year ago, things have really started picking up for me. After taking a couple of years off after grad school, I've just started auditioning and performing again in addition to a full time career teaching and directing a church choir. In the past few months, I've performed Bolcom cabaret songs and select German lieder in a local fundraiser gala, sang the roles of Benoit and Alcindoro in MetroWest Opera's production of La Femme Boheme, will be appearing as the mezzo soloist in the Choral Art Society of the South Shore's performance of the Saint-Saens Christmas Oratorio, and then have a solo recital coming up later in December. On top of that, my knowledge of pedagogy and voice science has deepened, I'm a better teacher than ever, and my voice studio is thriving!"
-Alaina Calloway-Bolton, Mezzo-Soprano
"When I met Dana Varga, I wasn't sure I still wanted to pursue performance as a career. I was very insecure about my voice and struggling with technique. I’ve now studied with Dana Varga for two years and she has truly been a vital part of my growth and development as a singer and a person. My singing and technique have improved, along with my language and dramatic skills. Specifically, as a coloratura, I struggled to sing melismas cleanly and sang with a lot of tongue and jaw tension. Dana helped me sing more freely in my lower registers and used creative imagery to help me rethink the way I approached melismas so I could sing them accurately with ease. Dana has helped me become a more well-rounded performer. She has also helped me get past some psychological blocks I developed while in school. She is a balanced scale; understanding yet firm, empathetic without helping you throw a pity party, and eager to celebrate victories while still staying focused on areas where improvement is needed. I’ve also taken a career coaching with Dana, where she helped me assess my goals. I am currently auditioning more than ever before, which is a testament to Dana’s commitment to me and my well-being as a person and a performer."
-Jasmine Robinson, coloratura soprano
"I have studied with Dana Varga for 2 years. I came to Dana seeking a voice teacher after many years of performing and not taking voice lessons. In my time with Dana, I have worked out many technical imbalances that I had developed through years of tense singing. Dana is a technical master. Her ability to hear and recognize where my tension was and then explain it to me so I understood was life changing. I am a graduate of the New England Conservatory and have taken voice lessons since I was 14 years old. I am now 37. I have learned more in 2 years from Dana than in all my years of voice lessons. She has mentored me with my career as a performer and as a voice teacher. In my time with Dana, I have built a part time voice studio that is steadily growing to a full time voice studio. She has taught me much about teaching singing in addition to my own solo singing. Her expertise and her attitude that we all can create our own path has inspired me not only in my musical career but in other areas of my life. Dana Varga is a world class teacher."
- Katie Jillson, Soprano and Voice Teacher
"I have worked as a professional organist and choir director for well over two decades, earning two music degrees and taking some voice lessons along the way, but in that time I only learned a fraction of what Dana has taught me in the past year about healthy vocal technique and production. I am always impressed at how well she balances hard work with fun and laughter, always knowing just how hard to push me. She has improved me as a singer by leaps and bounds, but the place where I see the greatest difference is with my choir. Dana has given me a wealth of tools to pass along to the singers under my baton; they went from being a good choir to no longer sounding like volunteers. I learn something new in each lesson, and my singers now tell me that they learn something new in each rehearsal. Dana has changed my life: she has made me a better singer, a better director, a better coach, a better musician, and I am much happier for it!"
-Cathy Meyer, Professional Organist
"I was recommended to Dana after 7 months of voice therapy (after being diagnosed with a vocal paresis), when I was declared ready to re-enter the singing world. Both my voice therapist and my collaborative pianist recommended Dana independently of each other. Needless to say, I walked into Dana's studio with wobbly legs, trusting their recommendations. Two years later, I am so grateful for taking that chance to work with Dana. She comes from a school of solid vocal technique, and helps me to focus on finding the ease of the voice. She is both warm and encouraging, as well as no nonsense. The work is intense and gratifying, and the bar is set high for each lesson. I truly accredit my ability to sing with confidence again to my lessons with Dana. She empowered me to find that spark within myself to be a working artist again. I found myself on the verge of quitting when I first met her, and now I have started gigging more, and am starting my own voice studio."
-Jessica Trainor, Mezzo-Soprano and Voice Teacher
"Dana has been the best thing to happen to my voice. She is honest, cares about her students, and works hard to improve technical issues. She is always pushing me to keep improving, keep working, keep auditioning. Without her hard work with me to fix the vocal issues I had coming out of undergrad and grad school, I would have given up on singing entirely. She is creative when it comes to working with the individual needs of her students, and is meticulous about exercises. Her students work hard because she works hard to show us that each practice session, each lesson, each audition makes us just a little bit better each time. She is an inspiration as a professional singer, and the fact that she performs often makes her an excellent voice teacher and career coach. She is always encouraging and willing to answer questions or approach a problem from a different angle. She is never harsh, but she will always be blunt and honest with you about the problems she sees and hears. I am grateful to her for igniting the love of singing in me again, and I can't imagine a more dedicated, hard working person than Dana."
-Kimberly Coleman, Soprano
"After years of vocal study and many teachers, I found Dana Varga, whose knowledge, skill, and teaching ability were so vast, deep, and clear that I felt like I only began to learn once I began studying with her. Between career coachings and voice lessons, she has armed me through her technique teaching and insight into her active career to start building my own music career. Dana has provided me with objective opinions, realistic expectations, and an incredibly supportive environment."
- Victoria Hamilton, Soprano
"Dana is a fantastic voice teacher and mentor. Her teaching is always very clear and simple, and that has allowed me to understand vocal technique more deeply. Dana is an expert at explaining vocal technique misconceptions and always offers new ways to approach her students' struggles. The most inspiring characteristic about Dana is that she truly tailors her lessons to each student and never falls into the trap of comparing or underestimating her student's potential."
- Fanny Lora, Mezzo-Soprano
"As a career singer, finding a voice teacher that could continue to help me grow and be inspirational was very important to me. Dr. Dana Varga is both of these and more. Her passion for teaching and knowledge for the human voice shows in every lesson. Though I had a career in music, there were fears and vocal issues that held me back, and Dana, with her firm and understanding teaching style, has helped me conquer these fears. Any singer understands that breathing and breath management is so important....but to really do it correctly is not easy. I was a heavy, high breather without a solid technique and got away with this for DECADES. Dana worked long and hard with me to understand my past singing experiences, my body type, and many techniques on how to breath and manage breath correctly. Her firm and knowledgeable guidance is 100% amazing. Another personal issue and fear was foreign languages. I studied and practiced, but was always being corrected at coaching and auditions. I almost gave up. Dana pushed me out of my comfort zone (which was what I needed), and got me to truly pronounce foreign languages correctly. I have been with Dana Varga for two years now and she has changed my life. As a fellow voice instructor, Dana has taught me so much about the art of teaching and the uniqueness of each student. As a performer, my recent auditions have resulted in more role offers than ever. I'm planning recitals, colleagues comment on my all around improvement, and I enjoy singing more than ever. DANA IS A GEM!!!"
--Mauri Tetrault, professional mezzo-soprano
"After getting my Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance, I took several years off from singing entirely. When I came back to it, I thought it would take me a year to get back to where I used to be. With Dana’s help, within months, I was accepted into the grad school of my choice. She was exactly the right teacher for me. Her technique is solid, her explanations clear and precise, and her guidance and mentorship invaluable. I would wholeheartedly recommend her as a voice teacher to anyone."
---Kathleen O'Reilly, Graduate Student at Boston Conservatory
"Dana Schnitzer is, by far, the best thing that ever happened to me as a singer. I came to Dana with a lengthy list of vocal problems that needed to be fixed. I had been previously taught how to sing incorrectly, and was singing repertoire way beyond my years. I also came to Dana at the beginning of my senior year, with college auditions approaching in the winter. I was told by many professionals that I would not have enough time to "re-learn" how to sing, and reach my goal of getting into a renowned music program. I came to Dana at a time of severe frustration and anxiety, and from my first lesson, I knew that I had the found the best possible person to help me attain my goals. She was everything one could wish for in a voice teacher; tough, inspirational, talented, and compassionate. She inspired me to work harder, raise my standards, and set higher goals for myself. Dana’s way of teaching was so clear and articulate that it was simple for me to understand her, and apply her teachings. She has unique ways of explaining the human voice and of conveying musical concepts. Dana not only worked on my voice, but on my overall presentation as singer, performer, and artist. In a matter of a few lessons, I could already feel and hear major improvements. I ended up getting accepted everywhere that I applied as a voice major, something I never dreamt I could accomplish. I am so thankful to Dana for everything that she did for me. If it weren’t for Dana, I wouldn’t be here."
--Natasha Nassar, Voice Major at Northwestern University
"Dana is both an incredible voice teacher and an incredible mentor. Not only has she helped me to work though specific technique issues, but she has been, and continues to be, an invaluable resource in navigating what it means to be a young artist in the collegiate and pre-professional classical voice world. As a young soprano, I am very grateful that I can bring up any specific questions I have from "Which type of dress is appropriate to wear in a master class?" to "Which type of summer program should I attend?," because Dana always comes up with helpful answers based on her years of experience."
--Katherine Early, Voice Major at Oberlin College
"Working with Dana Schnitzer as my voice teacher and mentor has been the most beneficial experience of my life and music career. When I first began lessons with Dana, I came as a young singer with a gift for singing, and a package of tension issues from a previous technique. As I began lessons with Dana, my voice and musical mind developed immensely, while my tensions began steadily to decrease and my musical confidence grew. Now, with Dana's guidance, I am pursuing a vocal career; all thanks to her fantastic teaching methods! Dana is always flexible to adjust to my needs, goals, and desires for the future. Her positive reinforcement alongside her willingness to always strive for improvement in her students provides them with the tools they need to succeed in whatever venue they choose. I always look up to Dana as a role model and respected, high-achieving professional with an absolutely unparalleled gift for excellence in vocal instruction"
-–Theodora Nestorova, voice major at Oberlin College
"I came to Boston from China over my winter holiday to study intensively with Dana for two weeks. It was such a great honor and a pleasure to get a chance to study with her. She has been one of the most important teachers in my life. Dana not only had a great influence on my voice, but also on my career development. She helped me to understand how to realize my dream of singing. During the two weeks of intensive lessons in Boston, I was addicted to her creative ideas and the amazing methods she employed to solve my problems. Dana used plenty of vivid imagery to help me improve my voice more quickly. She helped me a lot with the French and German text, and assigned many art songs, which I had rarely done before (I used to sing mostly arias). The addition of art song to my repertoire makes my goals more clear. I have become much more confident about achieving my goals in the future, thanks to Dana's advice and encouragement. Furthermore, I really like Dana's personality. She is always full of passion and patience. I have been communicating with her regularly for follow-up since I came back to China. Dana has opened my eyes to the whole music world. She is not only a talented singer, but also one of the most admirable artists I have ever encountered.
--Bizhou Chang, graduate voice major at Boston Conservatory
"I have had the pleasure of working with Dana for the last two summers at Tanglewood and am pleased to say that she is the best voice teacher I‘ve ever known. Beyond being such a great role model, Dana uses several tricks/ games to improve vocal technique and knows exactly how to fix my problems. I left both summers at Tanglewood feeling confident in my abilities as a performer, in large part due to Dana’s genius in the practice cabin. I hope to find a teacher in college as fully qualified and patient as she is."
--Amy Weintraub, Boston University Tanglewood Institute Alum 2011 and 2012
"This past summer at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, I received music that presented me with many new challenges. By the end of six weeks, thanks to Dana’s creative imagery, ability to divide and conquer vocal issues, and deep commitment to helping not only me but any of her students with any problems we encountered, I was prepared for the final recital, an honors recital, and an audition for a radio program. Dana continues to be a role model for me; her can-do attitude and professionalism are a great example to young singers who hope to enter her field in the future."
--Hailey McAvoy, Mezzo Soprano: BUTI Alum 2011 and 2012
"I had the pleasure of studying with Dana Schnitzer for six weeks at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Vocal Program, and I learned more than I ever thought was possible in such a short six week period. Dana is compassionate, creative and communicative. She was able to explain complex and abstract concepts to me in ways that I could comprehend and apply to my singing. Dana has been very pivotal in my development as a singer and truly helped me to be more than prepared for voice study at a college level"
--Emily D’Angelo, Mezzo-Soprano: BUTI Alum 2012
"I first met and had the opportunity to study with Ms. Dana Schnitzer in the summer of 2010 at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. Throughout my studies with Dana, she shared with me her knowledge of vocal technique and artistry. Dana also helped me understand what it means be a working musician in today’s competitive environment. I know that Dana’s insightful teaching and wise advise have helped shape who I am as a performer and as a person."
--Betsy Pilon, Soprano: BUTI Alum 2010
"Dana is not only a great voice teacher, she is also a really great person. She was there for me when I needed someone to talk to about anything. I could trust her with my feelings and my voice so it was more than just a voice teacher-student relationship. She helped me open up my sound and helped to prepare me for the beginning of my college process. I’m so grateful I got to work with her even though it was only for a summer. I also got to see her perform, and it was probably one of the most moving performances I have ever seen. Dana is so full of life and excitement and talent: very admirable qualities in a person."
--Former BUTI Student, name undisclosed