Singing Your Truth
Jennifer Mather helps students bring music to life by finding their own voice.
Jennifer Mather believes that in order for her students to successfully perform musical theater and classical singing, they need to know much more than how to hit the right notes and use perfect phrasing.
They need to know themselves.
“When my students do a character study, we sing in different languages, we analyze poetry, and we have to get into the deep psychology of the characters,” says Mather, a veteran singer and choreographer who has been an adjunct faculty member at Elmhurst University for 24 years. “We get into different cultures, the range of emotions, and sometimes that can tap into some very real places.”
Part of her approach is to learn all she can about her students, and get them “to think holistically about who they are.”
“It’s about much more than singing,” she says. “It’s about speaking your truth, and using your craft to find your voice.”
From the Stage to the Classroom
A lyric soprano, Mather has had a diverse professional singing career in opera, musical theater, jazz and commercial singing, and has performed in renowned venues all over the country, including at Carnegie Hall, Ravinia Festival and the New Orleans Jazz Festival.
Mather teaches classes in musical theater, opera scenes and light opera; gives private voice lessons; and works with professional singers and performing groups throughout the Chicago area. In 2018 she received the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, an award based on nominations from students.
While she has juggled performing and teaching for most of her career, in recent years she has decided to focus on teaching.
“Teaching has always been my first love,” she says. “There’s no greater joy than helping someone develop to their full potential and express who they are as an artist.”
Lauren Carr ’19 has been taking voice lessons with Mather since she started at Elmhurst. She says she’d never taken private lessons before, and saw improvement and growth right away. Carr recently took top honors at the National Music Theater Competition, a showcase for emerging professional music theater soloists.
She credits Mather with giving her the skills and confidence to persist, even at times when she was filled with self-doubt.
“Jennifer’s not one of those people who just let you get by,” Carr says. “Because I dreamed of becoming a performer, she said, ‘All right, you need to press on and be smart and positive and believe in yourself.’”
“You got that mother vibe from her, and you also got a teacher and a friend.”
Stories like Carr’s inspire Mather to continually seek ways to improve as a teacher and performer.
“I want students to know that they can create a vision for their life, and if they love what they do and live their truth, they can always make a living doing what they love.”