Educator

Dr. Muñoz currently serves as Associate Professor of voice and opera at the University of Delaware, as Vice President of The National Opera Association (NOA), and as chair of the Sacred in Opera Initiative— a division of the NOA that explores through research and performance, the interplay between music-drama and the ideologies of world religions. Dr. Muñoz is also a proud member of the NATS National Committee on Advocacy— an initiative geared to support inclusion and diversity in the fields of singing. In Fall 2018, Dr. Muñoz was named Associate Artistic and Executive Director at Musiktheater Bavaria (MTB) in Germany, which provides advanced singers and instrumentalists with mentorship from some of today's leading scholars and artists in the field of opera, musical theater, and early music. MTB’s students have gone on to win important competitions and secure positions in prestigious young artist programs, including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the Jensen Foundation Competition, the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, and the Merola Opera Program.

For his ongoing creative activities in education and performance, Dr. Muñoz has been recognized by the American Prize, the National Opera Association, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Delaware Division of the Arts and the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. As a much sought-after educator, he enthusiastically works with a vast array of students- from young collegiate singers to celebrity clients performing in music theatre, opera, and other varied areas of contemporary and classical commercial music. Actively maintaining a busy teaching studio in New York City and Delaware, students of Dr. Muñoz have appeared in opera houses throughout America, in the Broadway and National companies of many shows including, A Chorus Line, Chicago, Gypsy, Oklahoma, On The Town, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Finding Neverland, Jesus Christ Superstar, and on major recording labels including SONY, RCA, Atlantic, and Time Life.

 

Dr. Muñoz is a graduate of the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, and SUNY Stony Brook where he studied with W. Stephen Smith of The Juilliard School. He has formerly served on the teaching faculty of SUNY Stony Brook, The Manhattan School of Music Pre-College Division, the Rollins College Summer Music Academy and the University of Central Florida Summer Opera Institute. Prior to his appointment at the University of Delaware, from 2012-2016, Dr. Muñoz served as Associate Professor of voice and opera at Indiana Wesleyan University. As a guest lecturer and clinician, he has presented workshops on vocal performance for universities and performance programs throughout America and Europe. 

"It is very clear now from his record that Isai Jess Muñoz is an outstanding teacher of singing.  His genuine devotion to those who work with him instills his singers with lasting confidence, as well as with sensitive and important technical knowledge.  His incredible energy enables him to be attentive to a host of details in a student's performance, and his sharp ear makes him  aware of the difference between that which is good and that which is great.  I am proud to be a teaching colleague with Jess."  

Richard Owens
Founding Artistic Director, The American Institute of Musical Studies in Austria
Professor of Singing at Rollins College

Teaching Philosophy

From the recreational singer to the professional vocalist, my teaching is designed to help singers develop a sustainable vocal technique. The nature of the human voice is affected by every aspect of who we are – our physical, emotional, intellectual, psychological, and spiritual state of being. Thus many factors play a role into why one might sing poorly. But rather than complicating matters by focusing on all the 'no's' in singing, I aim to provide students with an unobstructed view of how healthy singing can be achieved.

Realizing that there is no one singular methodology that accommodates the needs or preferred learning style of every student, I present a variety of strategies all working to help singers strip away the entanglements that keep them from accessing their true voice. I partner with my students to remove any myths and confusions concerning vocal production, and to replace them with straightforward concepts that when applied, can lead to honesty and clarity in the singing and overall performance. As a result, the well-informed singer often comments on how happier they are in their personal life simply because they are able to express themselves more effectively through song.

Since music theatre and contemporary commercial music now provides artists with much needed work, for those singers focused on these fields, I present a clear description of vocal technique that allows for much needed flexibility within the many genres and styles found within these areas of music. Having grown up in the world of musical theatre, I thoroughly enjoy working within contemporary musical styles and acting methods.  I believe the ultimate goal of any singing-actor (regardless of genre) is that they be able to produce a free and healthy sound that is communicative and capable of telling the story. Though my instructional methods are founded on classical principals, crossover singers within my studio have found that without compromising stylistic concerns, they are able to achieve greater stamina, range, and versatility with a straightforward and accessible approach to the physiological and psychological components of breathing, phonation, and resonance.

For all students interested in pursuing professional work, adequate support is provided in terms of type appropriate repertoire and career advice.  Although an operatic or music theatre career may be the primary focus of many voice performance majors, it is my belief that a well-rounded curriculum encompassing all periods, languages, and styles will help ensure that a young singer become sufficiently versatile, artistically creative, and technically secure in order to compete in today’s ever changing marketplace. Additionally, knowing that not all music majors will go on to pursue a career in the arts, it is my desire that each student be able to acquire from the teachings of music, cognitive, and language skills that will serve them well in their daily endeavors beyond musical life. I take great pride when hearing one of my students profess to attaining new-found openness and confidence, or simply a greater sense of calm upon studying voice.  It is important that educators never forget that music, if merely for its ability to be expressed, should always carry with it undertones of great joy. This aspect keeps music accessible and is a vital component that I certainly attempt to cultivate in the classroom and teaching studio. Ultimately, whether a student’s focus is on an operatic or musical theatre career, upcoming auditions, or learning to sing for the mere fun of it, I am there to encourage, to challenge, and to partner with them as they work to achieve their goals.
 
The teaching philosophy of Dr. Isai Jess Muñoz stems from his studies with the most renowned, international pedagogues. His teachers of voice include Richard Owens, W. Stephen Smith and Cynthia Hoffman of The Juilliard School, Mary Henderson-Stucky and Barbara Honn of the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and Mark Oswald of the Metropolitan Opera. In addition, his teaching is informed by his long-standing work with such noted conductors and directors as are Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Leon Botstein, Paul Gemignani, George Manahan, and Francesca Zambello.

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