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Why Broadway star and educator Mary Michael Patterson teaches at Songbook Academy

January 10, 2024

Mary Michael Patterson works with 2-time Songbook Academy alumnus Seth Jacobsen (Indiana University).

Meet Mary Michael Patterson

Mary Michael Patterson is an Atlanta-based performer, director/choreographer and educator who has been seen on Broadway in The Phantom of the Opera (Christine Daaé), Anything Goes (Hope) and the First National Tour of Love Never Dies (Meg Giry). She has been featured in concert work at Lincoln Center and as a lead vocalist with the American Pops Orchestra. An accomplished director on stages from The Green Room 42 to Arena Stage, she also served as Assistant to the Supervisor on Broadway (The Phantom of the Opera).



Q: With your background in teaching at intensive training programs and having a career on Broadway, could you share any valuable advice for young singers on establishing a strong foundation and prioritizing self-care as they embark on their musical journeys?



Building a solid foundation is so important as early in a career as possible.  An eight-show week is incredibly demanding, and there were so many times I found myself feeling under the weather or recovering from illness during the course of a run on Broadway.  My technique always got me through.  Adrenaline only carries you so far - the stronger the technical foundation, the better you are able to navigate the inevitable curveballs that life throws.  


Q: What is your best piece of audition advice for students?



My best piece of audition advice is threefold.  Firstly, don't try to be what the creative team is looking for.  All you really can do is show up as the best version of yourself that day- a good team will know if that is a fit for the show or not.  Secondly, be more prepared than you think you can be.  Only in preparation can we find nuance and specificity in our work.  Thirdly, don't learn a new piece for a specific audition because you think it will land you the part.  The song never lands you the part - YOU do.  So have a strong book of music that you can sing at the drop of a hat, and let the creative team decide if they need to hear something else from you.


Q: What advantages do music students gain from delving into the Great American Songbook and exploring music history?



Knowledge of the Great American Songbook is crucial if you are going to be a Musical Theatre or Jazz performer.  Being connected to the history of the field will allow you to be a truly revolutionary artist - you can't evolve from what you don't know.  And there is great wisdom to be gleaned from those who came before you - look to them for inspiration and guidance.  



The Songbook Academy®

The Songbook Academy® is a transformative summer music intensive that immerses high school singers in America’s musical heritage and fosters artistic identity through song.


Where singers become storytellers …


At the Songbook Academy, we believe that every young singer has a unique story to tell through music. The program is designed for high school students with a passion for singing who want to hone their vocal and performance skills with an emphasis on interpretation. Through access to top-tier mentors and a focus on the foundations of American popular music, we provide a safe space for young singers to explore musical styles, grow in their individual artistry, and take risks in a supportive pre-professional environment.


Program Highlights:


  • Experience personalized mentorship from industry professionals
  • Perform in state-of-the-art concert facilities
  • Develop a strong foundation in American popular music
  • Build lifelong connections in an inclusive musical environment
  • Boost your confidence as a singer and storyteller