My passion is the voice. More specifically, my passion lies in the exploration of freeing the natural voice; guiding your journey, as a professional voice user, toward healthy, sustainable and thrilling performance. Every singer who walks through my door is a wonderful puzzle to be unlocked… an exciting amalgamation of talent, passion, and drive, but also of unique tensions, asymmetries, postural habits, and resonance imbalances. Add to that mix varying backgrounds, personality types, learning styles, and attractor states and you begin to get the picture of the myriad interrelated pieces of that wonderful puzzle. But, quite honestly, that’s why I jump out of bed and race to the studio every morning. The opportunity to work with extraordinary singing artists from the worlds of pop/rock, Broadway, and opera is a great privilege and one that I never take lightly.
I have often been called a “vocal pedagogy nerd”, a label I happily accept, as I firmly believe that great teachers are lifelong students… but technique for technique’s sake doesn’t interest me. It is the intersection of technique, God-given talent and artistry that fuels my teaching. And this intersection makes my job in the voice studio crystal clear: to establish for each student a solid, physiologically-sound foundation that becomes “invisible” onstage, in the audition room, or the concert hall, allowing the artist/actor to emerge. Aesthetically, I am not at all interested in “homogenizing” your voice, removing or altering that which makes your voice distinctively YOURS. What I am concerned with is addressing your individual vocal challenges, meeting your goals as an artist, searching out and correcting imbalance/asymmetries in the body, and freeing your voice to find its unique power, strength and beauty.
As singers, we truly are “laryngeal athletes” to quote Marilyn Horne. And the demands of our sport just keep growing, don’t they? As composers and audiences ask more of their performers, you ask more of your body and of your instrument. Whether you are a Broadway performer who must deliver “vocal pyrotechnics” eight times a week, an opera singer who must perform at their very best a few times a month, or a pop singer who rocks out in a new venue every night, you instinctively understand the necessity of solid technique to see you through.
I remember it well. The uneasiness of singing publicly – something I was supposed to love doing. “I wonder if it’s a good vocal day?” “I wonder if the planets will align?” “I wonder if that high/low note will be solid?” “Maybe, if all goes well, the singing will just happen so I can actually communicate something!” When things went well onstage, it was seemingly sheer luck. It never occurred to me that, even after several well-intentioned teachers, my “vocal toolbox” was very nearly empty. (Mostly cobwebs and a few well-worn adages about “alignment”, “breathing from the diaphragm”, and “keeping an open throat”.) So naturally, when I stepped out on stage, I felt like a handyman without his tools! I had every right to be nervous, and this frustration fueled my desire to find out more and more, and eventually to teach. I swore that no student of mine would ever walk out onstage with fingers crossed hoping for the best. They would KNOW what to do to unlock their potential and to get on with the business of moving the audience.
About Mike Ruckles
Mike Ruckles is a vocal technician and singing voice specialist (SVS) based in New York City. He maintains one of the city's premier voice studios specializing in healthy and transformative technique for Musical Theatre and contemporary commercial singing. His students comprise Tony and Grammy award winners, with clients appearing in leading roles on and off-Broadway, the West End, in national tours, and on concert stages across the world. His methodology incorporates the work of Alexander, Feldenkrais, Lessac, Estill, Stemple, Body-Mapping (Conable), Resonant Voice Therapy, and Fitzmaurice work among others. As an SVS, he works in tandem with some of NYC’s most distinguished otolaryngologists, training and rehabilitating injured voices. Mike is also privileged to work closely with some of the industry’s most successful and respected musical directors, composers and casting directors, and is, therefore, at the vanguard of the latest vocal trends and styles. As a result, he is able to bring this “insider perspective” and wealth of experience to each student, enabling them to be uniquely marketable and savvy. Recently, he served as the Associate Music Director for A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER on Broadway. He is a proud member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, the Voice Foundation, and the New York Singing Teachers’ Association (NYSTA). A frequent lecturer/clinician, Mike was a guest speaker on the topic of vocal rehabilitation for Weill Cornell Medicine’s Center for the Performing Artist, and has lectured on belt voice for Dr. Ingo Titze’s esteemed Summer Vocology Institute.
Mike served as musical director/private voice faculty for the School of Theatre Arts and Dance at the University of Northern Colorado for eight years before heading East. He studied piano at the University of Southern Colorado before completing a vocal performance B.M.E. and M.M. at UNC, training under esteemed pedagogue Dr. Melissa Malde. His thesis, “Aesthetics and Pedagogy of the Belt Voice” was completed in 2002, and has proven influential in revamping the training of Musical Theatre performers, particularly at the university level. Mike has taught on the voice faculty for the New Studio on Broadway at NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, at the New York Film Academy, The Growing Studio (NYC), and the Broadway Theatre Project.
Among past projects, Mike worked as vocal coach/assistant musical director for a demo recording of the rock musical CHESS produced for Sir Tim Rice, and in 2001, sang backup for Sarah Brightman’s “La Luna” tour with Josh Groban. He served as music director/pianist for the 2007 workshop/reading of Frank Wildhorn’s new musical WONDERLAND starring Brandi Burkhardt and the 2008 workshop/reading of Wildhorn’s HAVANA.
In 2008, Mike music directed and composed music for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts premiere of GIRLS ONLY with new productions opening across the country. In 2012, collaborating with playwright Daniel Beaty, Mike arranged/composed the score for BREATH AND IMAGINATION, which tells the tale of Roland Hayes, the first African-American opera singer. Directed by Darko Tresnjak and starring Jubilant Sykes and Kecia Lewis, it premiered at Hartford Stages and at City Theatre in Pittsburgh.
As a pianist, Mike has worked with such luminaries as Hugh Jackman, Patrick Wilson, Tyne Daly, Rachel Bay Jones, Raúl Esparza, Ben Vereen, and Sherie Rene Scott.