(pronounced BARThee SOmun)
Our June NVMTA Spotlight is Bharati Soman who teaches voice lessons. She is a member of NVMTA since 2016. Bharati currently manages the NVMTA teacher referral program, is a member-at-large, and helps organize the Musical Theater Competition. She holds a Bachelor of Music from James Madison University. She earned her Master of Music and Performance Diploma from Indiana University, Bloomington. For about 20 years, she has taught privately. Additionally, she served on the voice faculty at UC Davis for three of those years.
Bharati is also an active performer. Past credits include leading roles with companies throughout Northern California. As a concert soloist, Bharati has performed works with Choralis, the UC Davis Symphony, Kensington Symphony Orchestra, and given recitals for Oakland Lyric Opera and ArtScape in Baltimore. Currently, Bharati can be seen performing with Maryland Lyric Opera Chorus and Sopranessence (for which she also serves as Co-Artistic Director) throughout the DC Metro Area.
Music Teaching and Preferences
What was most challenging in your career during the pandemic? What was something you learned during the pandemic?
It was challenging to recalibrate my ear to teaching remotely (over Zoom, and more recently, Muze – a new web-based teaching platform). Rhythm is tricky to teach online, with the internet lag! As challenging as it is, I think it’s made me a better teacher. Online teaching forced me to think of clearer ways to articulate my instructions.
Another challenge AND learning opportunity: Over the last two years, I have learned new skills in audio & video editing! Sopranessence, the ensemble with which I perform and serve as Co-Artistic Director, has been fully virtual. As challenging as it’s been, it’s wonderful to be able to have more online content available to our audiences.
What do you like most about playing your instrument?
I love expressing a story through song! The voice is the original instrument, and it’s amazing to experience and experiment with a wide range of sheer sound, as well as how strong, yet sensitive, and sturdy, but flexible, the instrument can be.
What music do you like to listen to?
I listen to a variety of music from opera to pop/rock, indie, and some R&B, hip-hop/rap and country. My students introduce me to all sorts of new music, and it’s fun to take a trip down the rabbit hole once I dive in to check it out!
How do you like to spend your time when you aren’t practicing or teaching?
I enjoy cooking & baking, spending time with friends, and volunteering for activities in which my children are involved.
Participation in NVMTA and Advice
What have you learned by participating in NVMTA programs?
I really enjoy the camaraderie that comes with participating in NVMTA. As teachers, even though we work with people all the time, the business/administrative side of teaching can feel lonely. Having the opportunity to talk with fellow music teachers has been invaluable, especially through the pandemic. I have appreciated knowing there is a community of other teachers you can turn to for advice, or even just a good venting session!
What is your best advice to new members?
Get involved! I know adding extra things to your plate can seem overwhelming, but even if you take on one “small” task, it can make a huge difference to the organization, and the students participating in an event.
What are some ways you have participated in NVMTA?
- Attended in-person NVMTA meetings,
- Attended NVMTA zoom meetings (general meetings, TAT, or LATTE),
- Entered students in an NVMTA competition,
- Participated on an NVMTA committee at any level
What positions have you held in NVMTA?
I currently serve as a Member-At-Large, as well as the Chair for Find-A-Teacher and the Musical Theater Competition.
Musical Goals and Thoughts
What music projects are you working on now?
I recently sang in the chorus with Maryland Lyric Opera for Don Carlo in mid-May, prepared the video release for Sopranessence‘s Spring Concert, Dreamland, which premiered on May 14th, and prepared a workshop presentation with a colleague for The Voice Foundation Symposium (running June 1-5, workshops on June 3rd).
What is a musical goal (or musical goals) you have?
I have been working toward recording new demos to add to my website – ones that show a couple of styles other than classical. Yes, it’s my passion, it’s what I spent years training for, and it’s largely what I still perform. However, since I teach a variety of styles, I think it’s extremely important for me to continue honing my own skills and expanding my repertoire.
Looking back, is there anything you’d do differently in your profession if given a chance?
There are probably several things I *should* have done differently, but I feel like I am where I’m supposed to be. While studying for my performance degrees, I never really planned to teach. This was probably because I didn’t feel like I knew enough or had the skills to be able to impart knowledge to anyone else. As my skill set grew, I realized that I COULD teach, and as I began teaching, I loved it as much as I love performing.
Thank you Bharati for you service to NVMTA. We are happy to have you as our June NVMTA Spotlight teacher!