Jennifer Madsen is a prized fixture on performing stages of the West. A lifelong singer and actress, her early career included being a cast member of Brigham Young University’s famed performing group the Young Ambassadors. That experience founded her love of the art and afforded her the chance to sing, dance, and act for audiences across the globe. Using her strong foundational understanding for the craft, Jennifer left BYU and began to formally instruct students in all areas of performing. Her students from these early days have gone on to lead successful careers as Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award-winning artists. She has had several students on American Idol and its predecessor, Star Search. One such student even went on to become a Star Search season finale winner. Her celebrated instruction continues to this day, as a former voice and musical theatre instructor at Utah Valley University and currently as part of Snow College’s award-winning music department. Jennifer Madsen studied voice with Jeri Clinger and big band vocalist from Stan Kenton’s orchestra, William “Smiling Bill” Stoker. Her recent studies include spending several summers in New York City completing her professor’s certification in the Margolis Method for Acting. Her continued studies in this methodology infuse her vocal performance studio with techniques and tools for helping musicians and performers to connect viscerally with their music, lyrics and performance.
Jennifer’s accomplishments run deep as a producer, director, studio session singer and choreographer. Some of her more recent productions include The Sound of Music (Musical Director/Choreographer) at Robert Redford’s renowned Sundance Summer Theater; Inside the Outside (Music Producer) with Grammy award winning saxophonist, Jeff Coffin of the Dave Mathews Band (partially recorded on her musical tour to Cuba,) Don’t Look Down (Music Producer); the award-winning independent film Masque (Music Production); and various projects with BYU Broadcasting (Music Producer). Jennifer’s recognition for such work includes multiple Downbeat Music Awards and several Utah Best of State awards for her work with Caleb Chapman’s Crescent Super Band. She recently participated in the Essentially Ellington competition at Jazz at the Lincoln Center where her long time student, Isabella Johnson, was awarded outstanding vocalists. Aside from her many lauded achievements, Jennifer has never lost sight of the passion rooted in all of her life’s work – performing what she loves for the people she loves. She’s had the privilege of doing so with the Spokane Jazz Orchestra, the Timpanogos Symphony Orchestra, Salt Lake Choral Artist, the Utah Valley Symphony, and on numerous albums including work with Kenneth Cope. Recently, Jennifer completed a lifelong goal of performing at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City where she sang at the famous Dizzy’s Jazz Club to the delight of fans, friends, and family. Jennifer is a sought after clinician and presents vocal and performance workshops all over the world.
I am in my 40th+ year of teaching. I feel passionate about the craft of teaching, performance and singing. I want each of my students to retain the uniqueness of their individual voices and at the same time, embrace universal truths of technique that transcend style or genre. I help each student to build the singer/performer from the inside out, helping them to understand how to connect emotion, physicality, technique and musicality into one organic whole. It is all interconnected. Some simple concepts will be revisited on the same day that your mind might be blown by a new concept or connection. I like to revisit concepts on deeper levels and take things to higher levels each week. I call this “spiral learning.’ I love a student that is thirsty for more, eager to learn, willing to risk, and wanting to explore areas of weakness. Recognizing where your weaknesses are, we can build a repertoire to address areas that need improvement and spend time singing passages of music that will eventually bring you more vocal confidence. I like to attend performances of my students and…… I take notes. These notes become the springboard for future lessons. In performance, students reveal where they need to build a more solid foundation.
My vocal students hear about the “spinning plates of singing.” In the old vaudeville days, there was an act called the spinning plates. A man would have several sticks that were mounted and he would start spinning china plates on top of these sticks. One by one he would start a new plate spinning, but had to keep the other plates spinning at the same time. When we are learning to sing well, and even after we have become accomplished, we always have to pay attention to the skills that are at odds with each other, e.g. proper inhalation without constriction, breath support without neck strain. This is how the vocalist becomes like the vaudeville ‘spinning plate’ artist. During your lessons, it is my job to remind you of what plate is about to fall and needs some attention. Your job is to become self aware of your facility to the point that you recognize what needs attention and you can start self correcting as you move through your songs and performances. (Analogy about life can be inserted here!)
Having an extensive background in jazz, my students will be exposed to a repertoire of music that is near and dear to me. Learning to improvise, building a jazz repertoire and creating unique vocal arrangements will be a part of the contemporary singers expected outcomes in my studio. Students are challenged to create a repertoire book of 100 songs. Whether you are a student of mine or not, you are invited to attend Tuesday night’s Jenn’s Jazz Jam which will feature new songs each week to learn and to add to your jazz repertoire.