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Forte Featured Teacher: Dorothy Gal

Forte Featured Teacher: Dorothy Gal

Katie Hone Wiltgen, Chief Education Officer

April 10, 2024

Today, we introduce a new series called Forte Featured Teachers, which will highlight outstanding Forte teachers and give you the inside scoop on what makes them so fabulous.

We are thrilled to present voice teacher Dorothy Gal as our very first Forte Featured Teacher!

About Dorothy Gal

Dorothy is a professional freelance opera singer and musical theater performer. She focuses on creating a positive and supportive environment for her students, helping aspiring singers of all ages reach their dreams while prioritizing healthy vocal production. Dorothy loves working on all types of music but has extensive knowledge in classical, opera, and musical theater repertoire.

She received her training at the Houston Grand Opera studio, Aspen Music Festival, Des Moines Metro Opera, Ravinia Steans Institute, Marilyn Horne's The Song Continues Workshop at Carnegie Hall, and holds degrees (B.M./M.M.) in Vocal Performance from Mannes College in NYC and Rice University's Shepherd School of Music. Dorothy is the recipient of the Richard F. Gold Career Grant, and she is managed by Adrienne Boris at UIA Talent Agency.

Dorothy’s Forte teacher profile

Dorothy Gal - Houston Grand Opera Studio

Houston Grand Opera Studio

Dorothy’s Teaching Style and Approach

How would you describe your teaching style?

Warm, safe, positive, explorative, and fun

What's the best part of music lessons with you?

Learning to build a solid, technical foundation that can be applied to any genre of music!

How do you encourage and motivate your students to progress?

I encourage students to take an active role in their lessons by reflecting on the sound, sensation, and ease of their singing overall and in specific moments. I love following students' interests, sharing links to inspirational performances and additional materials for continued learning outside of our lessons.

What would your students tell us about you as a teacher?

I hope students would say that I'm encouraging, good-humored, and a confidence booster.

Dorothy’s Unique Skills or Specializations

If you were to select one or two things that you specialize in as a music teacher, what would it/they be?

Helping prepare tweens and teens for upcoming college auditions and performances, building confidence and a healthy vocal technique

What genre(s) of music do you specialize in or most enjoy teaching?

Opera, classical music, musical theater, singer-songwriters

Other than your primary instrument(s), are there additional disciplines or skills that you particularly enjoy teaching?

Sightreading, acting while singing, dealing with performance anxiety, basic/intermediate piano skills

Student Success and Feedback

Can you share a success story of a student you've taught?

A student once came to me the summer prior to starting her undergraduate degree in voice, feeling nervous about taking her sight-singing placement exams and confused about her voice type. We spent two months together, working virtually three times a week on building her musicianship skills and learning how to sight-sing with solfege from ground zero. She excitedly shared that she placed out of her aural training class and felt confident in her voice studio's "sing in" on the first day - switching from coloratura repertoire to lyric soprano music, allowing her voice to sit more comfortably in a lower tessitura.

What feedback do you often receive from your students (or your students' parents) about their lesson experience with you?

I often hear from parents that they enjoy my classes because I not only help students learn how to sing, but also teach them to dig deeper into the acting, interpretation, diction, and context of their pieces. I care about the mental health of my students and believe that fostering self-confidence, imagination, and a love for musical storytelling is just as important as learning technique.

Getting to Know You… Getting to Know All About You

Dorothy Gal - Paintings

Other than being a musician/music teacher, what is your forte?

In addition to the musical side of me, I'm a watercolor painter and recently started selling my paintings, ceramics, and fabric designs. I also am a pianist and love baking! I'd say my forte is making cookies (and I have a delicious almond flour sea salt chocolate chip cookie recipe if you need one).

What are your hobbies or interests outside of music?

Ceramics, reformer pilates, watercolor painting, dancing, baking, traveling

If you could collaborate with any musician or composer (living or dead), who would you choose, and why?

I'd love to perform in a Broadway show with Annaleigh Ashford because I think her comedic instincts are incredible and she elevates all those around her. I also would have loved to have collaborated with Mirella Freni, as she is one of my favorite opera singers of all time and a wonderful model of vocal technique and prowess.

What is the best musical advice anyone ever gave you?

The best way to color a note or phrase is with your imagination. Stay in your own lane - the only competition you have is yourself.

As musicians, we are always learning and growing. What's something you're currently working on?

I'm currently working on a new aria package that fits my voice, temperament, and highlights the skills I do best to offer for opera auditions. Right now I'm working on incorporating music from two dream roles - Rusalka (Dvořák) and Mimi from La Bohème (Puccini)

- as I finally feel vocally ready for their unique demands. As we age, our voice is constantly changing and developing, so even teachers need to check-in with their own vocal mentors during these seasons of change!

If you could learn any other instrument, what would you choose, and why?

I'd love to learn the harp and play Debussy pieces by the seaside! I think it's a beautiful and ethereal instrument.

What music are you listening to lately and really loving?

Lately I've been listening to Renee Rapp and trying to figure out how she can belt so high, haha!

What's your go-to karaoke song?

Bohemian Rhapsody, or a duet from Grease/The Phantom of the Opera

What is your afternoon snack of choice?

Hands down - a smoothie with granola!