One of my fondest memories growing up was going to my weekly voice lessons. Always wanting to sing for a living, I started lesson with Chris quite young, around 12 or 13. She taught me how to use my voice properly, breathing and shaping my vowels, not pushing and even lying on my back to understand how to hold my body. I still use these techniques today! When I was in middle school and high school, I had dreams of going to school for musical theater and one day starring on Broadway so most of the music we sung together were Broadway tunes though we also sang Italian & French arias, especially when preparing for college auditions. Thinking back, my favorite tunes I remember singing were Meadowlark and Lion Tamer. I loved music by Stephen Schwartz! Once I saw Chris play The Bakers Wife in "Into The Woods" in a community theater performance and it was one of the greatest things I had ever seen. I knew I was so lucky to be taught by such a pro who not only knew how to talk the talk, she also knew how to walk the walk. I realized through going to school that with limited dance ability Broadway may not be in my future but I started writing my own tunes in college and recorded my first CD during my senior year. The rest is history!
Joanie Leeds is an early childhood music educator at several NYC nursery schools and a singer songwriter leading the national touring kindie rock band, Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights. For her original music, Joanie has won an Independent Music Award, a Gold Parents' Choice Award, NAPPA Gold Award and she has been a John Lennon Songwriting Award Finalist, USA Songwriting Competition Finalist and an International Songwriting Competition Finalist. While she is mostly heard serenading families in NYC, over the past year she has played concerts in dozens of cities across the country and had been written up in People Magazine, Parents Magazine, New York Times and Washington Post for her newest CD, What A Zoo. Her tunes are played on many radio stations nationwide such as XM's Kids Place Live and WXPN's Kid's Corner. Joanie graduated from Syracuse University's Musical Theater department in 2000.
For videos, pictures or more information about children's concerts, please visit www.joanieleeds.com
BFA in musical theatre from Syracuse University Erica has been living and performing in New York City and regionally (Florida, Boston) since graduating from Syracuse in 2006. Off-Broadway credits include Circe in "Odyssey" and Jingle Girl in "National Pastime". Other favorite credits include Hermia in "A Midsummer Nights Dream", Audrey in "Little Shop of Horrors", Connie in "Come Blow your Horn" and Columbia in "the Rocky Horror Picture Show". Most recently, Erica is touring internationally with "HAIR" the musical. When not performing in musicals, Erica works in the New York City piano bar scene.
Chris was my very first voice teacher, and I owe so much of what I do to her! To this day, after all of the different teachers I've trained with, Chris' warm-up is still the one I use before every performance! Along with being a phenomenal and knowledgable teacher, she is also the warmest, kindest person I have ever met. Every lesson with her is not only a chance to work on great material but also, a safe place to receive the warmest hugs and smiles of your life, and connect personally with a wonderful woman.
I grew up in Miami, FL and started dancing when I was 2 1/2 according to my mom. Since then I discovered my love for Acting and singing which has led me to pursuing a career doing just that! Since graduating from Florida State's BFA Acting Program I have been living in NYC. Favorite Credits to date are: IN THE HEIGHTS (1st National Tour) Ensemble, u/s for Nina, Vanessa & Carla; FLASHDANCE (currently on 1st National Tour) Dance Captain, u/s for Alex Owens & Kiki; A CHORUS LINE (Berkshire Theatre Festival) Diana Morales; and ROMEO AND JULIET (Endstation Theatre Co) Juliet. I look forward to getting back to NYC this fall and continuing to do what I love!
About our time together!: I discovered singing with Chris Arroyo. I had never had a voice lesson and she just gave me the tools that are at the root of what I do as a vocalist. It was the beginning right in that living room!! I remember being given the confidence to trust my instrument and my gut. I was encouraged to sing all styles, all voice types, and so... now when people ask me "well, what do you sing?" I think "well, what do you want?!" That started with Chris!!
Kelly was born in Miami, Fl. She studied dance from the age of 3 in styles including ballet, contemporary, tap, jazz, and hip-hop. She also studied theater at New World School of the Arts and received a BA Theater degree from Marymount Manhattan College. Credits - Broadway: Wicked. Film: "Step Up 2: The Streets", "Step Up 3D". Television: "Glee", "Bones", |How I Met Your Mother", "Dancing With The Stars." Tours: Eve, Donnie Klang.
I have such fond memories of my lessons with Chris. I always felt so comfortable and supported. She made me feel a part of her home and a part of her family. I even remember looking forward to having Waldorf salad that she would make after school. I was nervous starting out with her since it was my first time training with someone. I was immediatley put at ease by her warmth and she always made me feel confident in my voice.. I believe that first positive experience is what helped me throughout the years. To this day I still implement things she taught me like using certain physical movements to help make specific sounds. Playing an imaginary violin and lying on the ground are just a couple of examples. I still use her exercises when I warm up my voice. Chris was such an amazing teacher to me. She helped start me on my path to becoming what I am today and I will forever be grateful.
Joelle Platt was born and raised in Miami, FL and started singing at age 2. Upon showing talent and major interest in voice, she began vocal lessons at age nine with Chris Arroyo. She studied with her until age 17 when she enrolled, on scholarship, at Berklee College of music in Boston, MA. Upon graduating, Joelle began pursuing her dreams of becoming a recording artist. She moved all over the country to work with some of music's top producers and writers. Eventually she settled in Nashville where she transitioned from recording artist to vocal teacher at a popular music store. This was a very natural transition because she adapted the amazing method she learned from Chris to teach her students pop/rock/country and other modern genres. Joelle became one of the most sought after vocal coaches at the store and she credits a lot of that to Chris's method because it is so effective on so many levels. " I tell my students that this method will allow them 3 things most importantly: Power, Control, and the ability to sustain that control. And I assured them that even though the method is classically based, I don't teach classical music..but that they should appreciate the technical aspects of classical music and its teachings because of how competent the classical singer is..there's no reason a rock singer can't be just as competent."
Joelle is currently on hiatus from teaching so she can be a new mom to her twin boys but she definitely plans to teach again in the near future. "Out of all the musical ventures of my life, teaching has been the most fulfilling one of them all. I feel that way not only because of my personal teaching experiences, but also because of my relationship with Chris..it is one that has changed my life forever!".
Casey Anne Craig is a Miami native who currently teaches theater at Gulliver Academy. She is also the Musical Theater Instructor for Danceworks of Miami. Casey recently returned to teach weekly workshops at Danceworks, having served as the dance studio’s musical theater director and acting coach from 2005 to 2007.
Casey attended New York University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Literature, Theater History and Cinema Studies in 2010. She also earned a Minor in Irish Studies, with a concentration in Irish Theater. Casey received her postgraduate degree from Trinity College Dublin in Ireland; she holds a Master’s degree in Philosophy of Theatre and Performance, with a concentration in Comedy. Her postgraduate thesis topic was Nationalism and Iconography in the Signature Theatre Company revival of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America by Tony Kushner.
Casey worked as a Customer Care Representative at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County from 2011 – 2013. Casey was also hired as Conference Coordinator for the National Jewish Theater Foundation, Inc. (NJTF) in 2012. Under the leadership of NJTF President and Founder Arnold Mittelman, Casey served as an independent contractor for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation-sponsored Holocaust Theater Archive Conference. The conference took place in Miami in May of 2012 and encompassed a distinguished gathering of Holocaust scholars, theater practitioners and academicians from universities across the United States. Finally, Casey’s previous internship experiences include: 321 Theatrical Management (the production management company responsible for Broadway shows including Wicked and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee); Ford Model and Entertainment Agency (New York Offices); and The Creative Coalition (a not-for-profit based out of HBO). Additional interests include: gardening, sailing and volunteer work through her children’s charity, Birthday Fairies (www.birthdayfairies.org). Reflection / Testimonial on being Chris Arroyo’s student: I can still recall my very first voice lesson with Chris Arroyo as if it was yesterday – even though it was actually ten years ago! I already knew Chris personally from my time as a drama magnet student at Southwood Middle School. However, I had just entered into the competitive theater world of Miami Palmetto Senior High, and I knew I needed further vocal training if I ever hoped to be cast in a musical production.
At the start of my first lesson, Chris asked me two questions. First, she asked what I already liked about my voice. And second, she wanted to know where I saw room for improvement. For anyone who knows me, I am loud, loud, LOUD, so I told her that I was very confident in my projection capabilities! That being said, I revealed to Chris that I really wanted to work on developing vibrato, so my performance would sound more rounded, refined and reflect outstanding technique. I told Chris I had always been envious of young women who had “natural vibrato,” and I wanted to be able to emulate that skill. Fast-forward to 2013: Although I have chosen to pursue a career of academia rather than acting, I am happy to say that Chris Arroyo helped me achieve my goal: my vibrato is brilliant! A solid decade later, Chris is still my teacher as well as my friend. I have formed close bonds with her entire family; her two daughters are truly the little sisters I never had. I tell people frequently that outside of my immediate family, Chris Arroyo is one of the most important and special people in my life. She is a genuine, passionate and inspirational individual, both artistically and personally. There is no one in this world that I would recommend more highly.
Nina Lafarga was most recently seen on the NBC show "Smash" as a recurring member of the Bombshell cast. Her Broadway credits include: Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown where she originated the role of Ana (Melissa/Paulina u/s), the original cast of the Tony Award winning musical In The Heights (Nina u/s), Sweet Charity and Aida. Off Broadway: In The Heights (Original Cast, Drama Desk Award), The Capeman (The Public Theater), Fanny (City Center Encores!), Aida (1st National Tour). Film: Friends With Kids, Sleeping With The Fishes, Music and Lyrics, Louis. TV: "Blue Bloods", "30 Rock", "All My Children", "As The World Turns", "Saturday Night Live", "Dancing With The Stars", "America's Got Talent", "The Today Show", "American Music Awards", "The Tonight Show", "World Music Awards", and "MTV Video Music Awards". Nina has also performed all around the world on multiple tours and television shows with many artists such as : Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Alicia Keys, Rickey Martin, P Diddy, Mya, and Black Eyed Peas to name a few. Nina was Broadway.com's Gypsy of the month and she is a graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts where she received a BFA.
I remember in one of our lessons we worked on "Where Am I Going?" from Sweet Charity. At the time I hadn't heard of the song and wasnt sure how i could relate to it but because I trusted you, I put my heart into it. It turns out that this moment with you set into motion my love for the show and a couple of years later I was performing on Broadway in Sweet Charity! And now, as I contemplate whats next for me in my life from time to time the lyrics of "Where am I Going" play in my head and I couldnt relate to them more. Thank you for believing in me and choosing the perfect song for me on that day. You knew it was right for me somehow and I am so grateful for the faith you had in me then and the support you have given me throughout my career as my teacher and friend.
Andréa is a Drama Desk Award winner having delighted Broadway audiences as the saucy “Daniela” in the Tony Award-winning musical, In The Heights. Broadway credits also include, The Nance, Beauty and the Beast, The Full Monty, and The Ritz. Off-Broadway credits include: Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World and Stephen Sondheim’s Saturday Night. National Tours: Parade (National Broadway Award nomination), The Full Monty, Company. A versatile actress, Andréa has played a variety of roles across this country ranging from Dot in Sunday in the Park with George (Joseph Jefferson Award nomination) to Eva Peron in Evita to most recently, Diana in Next to Normal. Television credits include The Electric Company, Law & Order: SVU, Rescue Me, and Smash. Andréa’s debut solo album, A Deeper Shade of Red was described by Playbill.com as “superb on all counts” and is available on itunes.
"Chris Arroyo was the gentle genius who freed my voice, introducing me to exactly the kind of singer I was meant to be. With tenacity, great skill and incomparable loving way, Chris was instrumental in creating the Broadway vocalist I am today."
Cantor Hollis Schachner was born in the Bronx, New York and raised in Miami, Florida. She was a musical theatre major at the New World School of the Arts where she first began to study with Chris Arroyo. From the very first moment Chris became so much more than Hollis's voice teacher--Chris became a loving mentor, role model and dear friend who is to this day a touchstone of Hollis's life. went on to study in the jazz and vocal performance departments of the University of Miami, where she graduated with double majors in Music and Judaic Studies in 1996. After deciding to become a Cantor she served as the Cantorial Soloist at Temple Israel of Greater Miami, where her voice was heard weekly throughout south Florida on a live Shabbat radio broadcast. She left to begin her training at the School of Sacred Music of Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem and New York, serving as the Student Cantor of Temple B’nai Israel of Woodbury, Connecticut for three years. Hollis married her classmate Cantor Jeffrey Stock, and following their ordination in May, 2001 they moved to the Boston area where Hollis became the Cantor of Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland, Massachusetts. She has been a member of the clergy team at Shir Tikva ever since, leading worship services, directing the Temple's music program, teaching Torah, sanctifying life-cycle events, serving as a pastoral counselor to the congregation, and innovating creative programming. Hollis and Jeff are the proud parents of Gavriel (budding drummer) and Liat Stock (budding singer/pianist), and the family resides in Waltham, Massachusetts.
On her relationship with Chris Arroyo:
My first lesson with Chris began with her sharing this philosophy of music: "Why do we sing? We sing when we feel so much that we can't possibly express it with mere words alone. We need to break free of the words, and singing takes us above and beyond them to a place where we can say what we feel, fully."
What struck me then, and continues to move me still, is that this is not only a musical philosophy, but a spiritual philosophy. Chris gave me my voice, and when I speak of her to others I’ve always called her my "voice mother" rather than my voice teacher because she was the one who nurtured into life that which God implanted within me. But along with a technique that allowed me to sing clearly, confidently and consistently, Chris's example taught me that singing and praying are fruits of the same tree of faith. Both can be a struggle, but both can also be a foundation for a rich inner life and for healing the world around us. While Chris's spirituality is informed by Christianity and mine by Judaism, I recognized in her an urgent and restless kindness, a passion for using her voice to bring more love into the world. I wanted to find a way to be like her. By being a Cantor I believe I am following in her footsteps.
Alex won a Tony and a Grammy as the music supervisor, co-orchestrator and cast album producer of In The Heights. In 2005, he served as the Music Director of Wicked on Broadway, for which he also contributed music arrangements. Other credits as music director, arranger and/or orchestrator: Bring It On; the current revival of Annie; Working (59E59); The People In The Picture; 9 To 5 (Drama Desk and Grammy nominations); Legally Blonde; High Fidelity; Bat Boy: The Musical (Off-B’way), and the 2001 National Tour of Godspell. Alex recently began composing music for Sesame Street on PBS.
"Chris is a wonderful teacher who wants nothing but the best for her students. She is a warm and encouraging presence, and these qualities are essential for a teacher to have in order for a student to learn and grow in a safe and nurturing environment. Through her mentoring and her belief in me, I was able to hone my skills as an all-around musician. She's great!"