Student Of The Month, December 2023

Voice Student, Branden M.

The voice as a musical instrument is extremely complex. Although every human being possesses and exercises their ability to sing, gaining control over the sounds you make takes years of training. All instruments are made up of two basic components: a vibrating component and a resonating component. The vibrating component is where the sound originates from. For the voice, this is vocal folds that produce the sound. The resonating component is the element that projects the sound. This is the vocal tract. Unlike any other instrument, a vocalist can manipulate these elements in real time. This enables a singer to change the quality and color of sound they produce, giving them endless possibilities when compared to, say, a violin.

Another unique quality about the voice is the fact that it’s an instrument you cannot see. Training the voice involves a lot of “feeling” and a lot of trial and error. A singer is continuously moving from technique to technique in order to condition, train and recover their vocal chords. Then there is pitch placement-the ability to hit the right note. In order to do this well, vocalists need to spend time ear training to develop their sense of tuning. Needless to say, it is an involved instrument. But with time, patience and persistence, anyone can learn to sing heart out (like countless other SMMC students have)!

Branden, one of our young adult students, has been taking voice lessons since February 2023. When Branden first came to the Center, he had not taken voice lesson before but had always aspired to do so. He took the plunge and has been consistently at it ever since. We are excited to share his accomplishments and debunk the dogmatic belief that you can only learn music as a child. SMMC has a number of adult students actively registered in weekly lessons-all making incremental progress and improvements week after week! When it comes to Branden, his instructor notes that he consistently practices, consistently attends lessons, actively listens and is always looking for ways to improve.

In His Teachers Words

Branden takes lessons from SMMC voice instructor Jullanar Gamboa. Ms. Gamboa is a jazz vocalist who attended Berklee College of Music where she received her B.A. in Vocal Performance. Of Branden, Jullanar writes:
“As a vocal student, Branden has made a number of accomplishments. They were all achieved through dedicated practice and consistent lesson attendance. Since working with Branden, he’s improved his ability to breathe with ease and hold notes out for longer periods of time. With healthy breath support and good technique, Branden has shown his ability to have a great deal more control over his instrument. Together, we’ve worked on his vocal mix, blending from head voice to chest voice. This is no easy task and although it’s still a work in progress, he’s able to belt using his upper register with more confidence and ease! As his vocal instructor, he’s been a joy to work with and I’m so proud of how far he’s come!”

Branden During a Recent Lesson

Here is a short video of Branden performing during a recent music lesson.

Congratulations on the award Branden. With all your dedication and hard work, it is a recognition that is well deserved!

Meet The Instructor

Voice Instructor Jullanar

Jullanar Gamboa is a jazz vocalist in Los Angeles. She attended Berklee College of Music where she received her B.A. in Vocal Performance back in spring of 2017. Since then, she’s worked as a freelance voice teacher and performed at various venues around town that include Pasadena’s Jones Coffee Roasters. In addition to performing, Jullanar had the opportunity to co-write and sing on the revised soundtrack for the Damien Chazelle film Whiplash. As a vocal instructor, she believes in a technical approach to teaching voice, combining vocal technique exercises with the ability to encourage, empower, and help her students attain the confidence they need to be great vocalists. She brings empathy and support to her practice and believes that anyone who wants to sing can do so!

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