Leo Academy Vocal Arts

Leo Academy Vocal Arts

2 employees
4 years in business

About this pro

Drew is a voice instructor and audition/performance coach, father of three and the founder of Leo Academy Vocal Arts. He teaches primarily out of his Manoa Valley Studio. Drew is also a member of National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) and the International Voice Teachers of Mix (IVTOM) where he proudly serves as assistant director of education. He teaches a variety of styles ranging from classical art songs to pop, and he specializes in Musical Theatre performance.

The focus of Drew's teaching is on strong but relaxed singing - his students learn to sing through their entire range with a strong sound, eliminating the very notion of a "break."

Since earning his B.F.A. degree in musical theatre at the University of Michigan, Drew has earned numerous credits as a professional actor and is a proud member of Actor's Equity Association. He was honored with Po'okela Awards for his performances as "Che" in Evita and for "Jimmy" in Nice Work If You Can Get It at Diamond Head Theatre. Before moving to Hawaii, he starred as "Tony" in West Side Story at Sacramento Music Theatre, a two-month run in Basel, Switzerland, and in the Atlanta-based Theatre of the Stars’ national tour. 

Other favorites include "Perchik" in Fiddler on the Roof at West Virginia Public Theatre, "Kenickie" in Grease at the Olney Theatre Center in Maryland. At North Shore Musical Theatre in the Boston area, he played "Lucas" in The Student Prince, and also appeared in productions of Miss Saigon and Victor Victoria. A true highlight of his early career was appearing as tenor soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Savannah Symphony Orchestra in Georgia, and he also appeared in (abridged) opera productions of Carmen and The Marriage of Figaro at the Crested Butte Music Festival in his original home state of Colorado.

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Honolulu, HI 96822
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What is your typical process for working with a new student?

I tailor my teaching style to fit the needs and goals of each student. Some just want to learn to sing for the first time in their lives. Others are recovering from vocal problems like polyps or nodules as a result of straining and bad habits. Many of my students are actively working toward a career in musical theatre, so a good deal of time is devoted to performance and audition technique. We start with simple scales and will work to establish strength in the student's upper and lower range, and then put it all together with one, strong sound (rather than a full "chest voice" and an airy "head voice"). The techniques learned in exercises are then applied to a song. I also work with students to develop a mindset that builds them up and helps them perform at their best, with confidence, free of anxiety. 

What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?

I hold a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Department of Musical Theatre at the University of Michigan. I have greatly bemefitted from years of work in musical theatre and am a member of Actors Equity Association. 

Do you have a standard pricing system for your lessons? If so, please share the details here.

Regular weekly 60 minute lessons are $80, 30 minute lessons are $45. The first lesson, or "initial audition," is discounted to $70, with no further commitment is required. Tuition for on-demand, one-time vocal coaching and audition prep is $90. 

Services requiring additional work outside the one-on-one session are also available: Sheet music discovery and preparation is $125 The fee for this service includes your consultation session and offline time to search for appropriate material in addition to any editing, printing, and audio for rehearsal. In cases where multiple songs are needed. Audio/video recording and editing is $80 per half hour. This includes an equal amount of time "behind the scenes" producing the final product. 

How did you get started teaching?

My background as a professional actor prepared me with practical experience and techniques that I began to share with young colleagues as they prepared for auditions and college applications. In late 2017, I made the decision to make a leap of faith and built a studio that is attached to my home in Manoa Valley on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. I conitnue to study and learn, and am fascinated in the science of the voice. 

What types of students have you worked with?

My students range from a 6-year-old girl who was born deaf and now hears with the aid of cochlear implants, a wide variety of performers from elementary and middle schools across the island, and others that "visit" via Zoom. I also teach young professionals and a few mature adults who sing for the joy of it. I take great pride and care with my high school students who are preparing to apply for the top theatre schools in the country.  

Describe a recent event you are fond of.

I had the honor of performing alongside my students in a holiday recital in December. The event was held at the Castle Performing Arts Center, a 650-seat theatre with excellent acoustic design. Each singer performed without any amplification, which was a "first" for most of them. Proceeds from the concert benefitted the theatre directly. 

What advice would you give a student looking to hire a teacher in your area of expertise?

Singers benefit when they have a teacher that has her/his best interests at the forefront. Vocal health is the top priority, but that does not mean that one has to sing only classical music. Any teacher who refuses to teach the kind of music that a performer desires to sing does the student a major disservice. Singers should seek out a teacher that teaches healthy techniques in the style of music they are most drawn to. 

What questions should students think through before talking to teachers about their needs?

What are my goals for the next few months? Do I need someone that can help me with the next audition or two? What do I want to do with my voice in the long term? Do I want to be a professional singer, or am I doing it all because it feeds my soul? Do I want a teacher that has practical performing experience, or one simply with an education degree? Is the teacher making promises like, "I'll make you a star," "you will land a role in...," "I will ensure that you will get into a top-5 college program." (I do not offer promises except that I will work as hard as my students are willing to work to achieve their personal goals, and that I will support their vocal health and keep the focus on the student, not myself.)