Emerald Lessley, DMA

Emerald Lessley, soprano, began studying music and performing at a young age in northern California. Dr. Lessley has enjoyed roles such as Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Rusalka in Dvořák’s Rusalka, Eurydice in Glück’s Orphée et Eurydice, Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni, Suor Angelica in Puccini’s Suor Angelica, Calisto in Cavalli’s La Calisto, Semele in Handel’s Semele, Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Second Lady in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Gasparina in Haydn’s La

Canterina, Geraldine in Barber’s A Hand of Bridge, La Ciesca in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Pauline in Barab’s A Toy Shop, Estrella in Offenbach’s La Perichole, and Belisa in the U.S. premiere of Maderna’s opera Don Perlimplìn. In addition to traditional operatic repertoire, Emerald is an active performer of avant-garde musical styles, including recent performances of vocal works by Crumb, Berio, and Schoenberg. She also loves premiering new works and has enjoyed collaborations with composers on concerts in both the U.S. and Europe.

Emerald has been teaching voice for more than ten years and specializes in classical, musical theater, contemporary styles, and voice for transgender singers. She earned her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 2017 from the University of Washington, with her dissertation entitled Teaching Transgender Singers. Because of her research and experience, Emerald has been an invited speaker at the Northwest Voice Conference, the Vocology in Practice Conference in London, the London-based BAST webinar series, and NATS Chat. She was also honored to author the “Musicians” entry in the Encyclopedia of Trans Studies.

Dr. Lessley is the head of Vocal Music at Olympic College in Bremerton, Washington, where she resides with her wife, Josslyn, and two dogs, Adrian and Stella. 

Practical Application: Applied Voice Teaching for Transfeminine Singers

An area of voice pedagogy that requires much attention is that of teaching transgender singers. As more people are able to live as the gender congruent with their identity, voice teachers will be teaching more trans students. However, vocal pedagogy is in its infancy with regard to addressing the needs of transgender singers. I want to provide a scientifically informed studio application workshop so that voice teachers who might be unfamiliar with transgender singing voice work will leave with information, resources, and ideas on how to be the best possible teachers for their trans students.

The goal of this workshop is to provide an informative and fact-based session on applied voice teaching for a transfeminine singer. Though still rare, workshops with transmasculine singers exist, and conversation around issues teaching transmasculine singers are much more frequent than are conversations about transfeminine singers. During the workshop, Dr. Lessley will work with a transfeminine singer who has been in voice lessons for approximately one year. They will explore her voice and discuss the process they have taken in her year of voice lessons.

The current literature on teaching transgender singers is extremely limited, which can be frustrating to well-meaning voice teachers who are looking for answers about the experiences of their trans students. In this workshop, Dr. Lessley will attempt to answer some of the most important questions and share teaching experiences that have proven to be successful with her transfeminine students.

Financial Disclosure: Dr. Lessley has no financial relationships to disclose. 

Non-Financial Disclosure:
 Dr. Lessley has no non-financial relationships to disclose.