Guest Spotlight: Who is Aimée Steele?
Vocal Coach for the Broadway revival, West Side Story, Girl from the North Country on Broadway, and collaborator on a multitude of projects including working with the cast members of Tom Kitt’s, The Visitor, at The Public Theater.
Aimée Steele has been teaching in NYC for over 20 years. She received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from The Eastman School of Music and a Master of Music in Vocal Pedagogy from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is a graduate of the Maggie Flannigan Acting Studio where she studied the Meisner technique and has intensively studied the Joan Lader technique with Andrea Green.
It’s All About Confidence
According to Steele, there is often little difference between the seasoned acting veteran and the student starting out in the profession. The seasoned vocal coach notes that when a new student or new professional enters her studio, she takes time to learn how the client learns best. In order to serve him or her with the best support, Steele searches for the unique qualities that the client brings to their performance.
Since acting is considered a highly competitive profession with judgemental environments that often make actors feel lesser than they are, Steele advises new professionals to simply focus on what they love: to sing.
“In this industry, you have to have an immeasurable amount of confidence. We bear our souls.”
Teaching confidence is not an easy task for a vocal coach, but Steele reminds the audience not to compare themselves with others, or even with prior versions of themselves. The best way to achieve a level of confidence that continues to motivate a professional is to focus on the present and the tasks at hand.
Working on Broadway: Maintaining Professionalism When Star Struck
As a vocal coach, Steele collaborated with high-profile named musical directors and actors. She’s only human, so Steele discusses how she manages to work with tenured professionals whom she admired from afar. To avoid getting too star-struck, Steele reminds herself that the client is simply human and they’re here for her services and help.
Often a collaborator on Broadway, Steele has worked with many musical directors on Broadway shows who typically reach out to ask for a collaboration. Oftentimes, according to Steele, the producers will have the final say on whether a vocal coach will be kept on stage throughout the production. The reason being, some productions have very tight budgets, but when there is funding available for vocal coaching, it is recommended.
Vocal coaches grant the bridge of communication between the actors and the musical director. As the most immediate partner to the actor, the vocal coach can provide ongoing tips and reminders to help singers stay on pitch and keep in focus the purpose of their scenes and the entire story.
How to Be Vulnerable
“Voice cracking is ok,” says Steele when considering the performances she’s seen in her work tenure, “Some of the best performances I’ve heard are not by people who are considered real singers.” In fact, the singers who provide the most human energy, Steele reminisces, were the singers that left the most impact. That didn’t translate to perfect pitch.
For those interested in technical advice, Steele notes that while singing solo to the audience, with no one else on stage, you are still singing to someone. Consider in your mind what happened to your character in the previous moment or scene. This should drive the motivation for your singing to achieve the emotional goal. It’s critical to allowing your vulnerability to shine during these moments to give a stellar performance.
Steele teaches both in-person and virtually around the world. Her vocal studio is based in the Upper West Side of New York City and you can learn more about her services and get in touch by visiting www.aimeesteele.com.
About Liz Hinlein and The 20/20 Series
Liz Hinlein is the Creative Director of Filmmaking and Cinematography with the New York Film Academy. During her tenure, she created our popular weekly virtual event, The 20/20 Series.
Hinlein is an award-winning DGA director and graduate of the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Her background in filmmaking and media content includes a robust portfolio of work that spans feature-length films, commercials, and music videos for artists including Mary J. Blige, Britney Spears, Quincy Jones, Incubus, and Fishbone.
The 20/20 Series is a pop-up virtual event that takes us into the homes, hubs, and workspaces of an array of dynamic creative visionaries to allow for relaxed, engaging conversations on craft, creation, and artistic vision.
Each conversation with a creative visionary features 20 minutes of discussion with a moderator and a 20 minute Q&A from YOU, the audience.
This event is open to the public, as a means of promoting global connection and creativity, a key mission of NYFA.
You can catch videos from The 20/20 Series as they are released, here.