Higher Voice Instructors

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Hilerie Klein Rensi

Hilerie Klein Rensi started taking private voice and piano lessons at six years old.  She began singing in the Colburn Children’s Choir (formerly The California Children’s Choir) at 10, and at 12 directed her own madrigal group that toured Los Angeles area schools.

She attended Interlochen Center for the Arts, the world’s premiere summer arts program, for nine summers and graduated high school from Interlochen Arts Academy.  She continues to be the only woman in the history of Interlochen Center for the Arts to perform four consecutive lead operetta roles and was also honored with the “Best Female Principle Over 25 Years of Gilbert and Sullivan Operettas” Award.

Driven to help other singers achieve the same success she had enjoyed, Hilerie began teaching private lessons to friends and beginning students in high school.  Hilerie then went on to earn a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance in three years from Cleveland Institute of Music and a Master of Music degree from Binghamton University together with Tri-Cities Opera– the oldest operatic training company in the country.

During the summers, she continued nurturing her private studio as well as teaching undergraduate students full time during the academic year at Binghamton University .  She was an Artist in Residence at Tri-Cities Opera and is proud to say that she has performed over 20 roles on their stage.   At the same time, she was the only classical voice instructor in the area who was also a lead singer in a professional rock band and performing musical theater.  She quickly became the teacher to turn to for musicians of all styles.

Since then, Hilerie has performed over 50 operatic roles and oratorio works all over the country with appearances including: Spoleto Festival USA, Orchestra of the Southern Fingerlakes, Tri-Cities Opera, Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra, Basically Bach Ensemble, Pittsburgh’s Opera Theatre Summerfest, Binghamton Downtown Singers, Lake George OperaNatchez Festival of Music, Orchestra of the Southern Fingerlakes, Resonance Works, Hamilton College and Community Oratorio Society, Undercroft Opera, and Traverse Symphony Orchestra, among others.

She has won numerous awards, continues to perform opera, oratorio, recitals, musical theater, operetta, children’s opera, four part a cappella music, new compositions, and she also tours her cabaret “Alto on the Loose.”  She directs and coaches a cappella groups, choral ensembles, church praise groups, and glee clubs, she gives master classes and she judges vocal competitions.  While enjoying a full time teaching schedule, she is also a guest lecturer at private and public schools across the country.

Most recently seen on Dance Moms and heard on NPR, Hilerie’s current and former students have been featured in Opera News Magazine, performed on NPR’s radio program “From the Top,” showcased on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, shone for Grammy Award Week Salute to Placid Domingo with Los Angeles Opera, sang On and Off-Broadway. Her students have been seen on Oprah, at The Kennedy Center, at The Dorothy Chandler Pavillion, on national tours in Europe, on cruise ships, with symphonies and in regional and community theaters nationwide.  They have performed with Mötley CrüeGavin DeGrawWynton Marsalis, Collective Soul, Thomas HampsonJason Mraz, Jo Dee Messina, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Breaking Benjamin, Brett Eldredge, Rob Zombie, King’s X, Skid Row, Fishbone, Hootie and the Blowfish, Seether, Journey, The Swon Brothers and in clubs, schools, coffee shops, bars, fairs and campuses across the country.

Her students have been accepted to classical, musical theater and contemporary music schools including: Curtis Institute of Music, Eastman School of Music, State University of New York at Fredonia, Manhattan School of Music,  University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Juilliard, State University of New York at Cortland, Penn State University, Ohio Northern University, The Crane School of Music, Ithaca College, University of Southern California, Oklahoma City University, UCLA, Temple University, University of the ArtsBelmont University, Houghton College, Cleveland Institute of Music, Seton Hill University, Berklee College of Music, Mannes School of Music, and summer programs including Interlochen Center for the Arts, Aspen Opera Theater, Aspen Music Festival, Southeastern Summer Theatre InstituteThe Glimmerglass Festival, Binghamton University Summer Youth Musical Theater Workshop, ArtsBridge Summer Musical Theater Program, and Boston University Tanglewood Institute, among others.

Hilerie’s students have won Presidential Scholar of the Arts Awards from the US Department of Education, National First Place prize in the Classical Singer Magazine Competition, First Place in Talent in the National American Miss New York Pageant, First Prize at the Gerda Lissner Liederkranz Competition, earned First Place Grand Prize Finalist at the Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Awards, and participated in the Chapter, Regional and National level of The National Association of Teachers of Singing Competition.

Carmen LoPresti Voice Teacher, Higher Voice Studio

Carmen LoPresti

When Carmen LoPresti was 13, he began singing to find a voice that was unique and different from his brothers.  While singing started as a hobby, he quickly noticed what a positive impact singing had on his voice, yes, but also his heart and his mind.  Eager to share these revelations with his friends in high school, he began giving them voice lessons.  It didn’t take long before Carmen saw how they were having the same wonderful experiences as he was, and that’s when he knew he was called to teach.

While Carmen studied opera at The Cleveland Institute of Music and Duquesne University, he also studied Musical Theater, Jazz, and Pop/Rock genres and is proud to say he is STILL learning and performing. He has most recently been seen as Hero in South Park Theater’s production of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Leo in The Strand’s production of The Producers, and Anthony in Sweeney Todd with Comtra Theater. 

“When you actually take the time to listen to your real voice, it can be the most terrifying but rewarding aspect of your life. It’s taken me years to hear the true voice inside me speaking to me, but I was also stubborn and scared. I’ve finally found the courage to use the true colors and sounds of my voice to my advantage, and I wish for all of my students, to hear who you truly are and accept the beauty in your unique instrument. Then I can annoy you with the technical stuff!” 

The Higher Voice Studio goofball and cheerleader for all, Carmen is dedicated and passionate about helping each and every student who walks through the doors of music. He is excited to be a part of such a wonderful group of teachers and students. Come say hi to his plants in room 304.

“In the few months I’ve been a student of Carmen, I’ve been thoroughly impressed with his knowledge, dedication, and professionalism. He has an ability to identify and introduce corrections that make a significant impact on my voice. Carmen is engaged in helping me to achieve my goals, he genuinely cares about, and is committed to his students. Most importantly, he’s been able to help me build confidence. It’s been a pleasure to study under his tutelage.” ~Scott Snyder

Tiffany Meyers

Tiffany began her vocal study at 10 through West Virginia University’s Community Music Program where she began performing in musicals such as Annie and Peter Pan. Attending Trinity High School, she performed in Wonderful Town and Crazy For You, Joy in Cinderella, and the Cat in the Hat in Seussical. An active member of Old School House Players, Tiffany also performed as Charlotte in Oliver  and as the Star to Be in Annie. while working as an apprentice at Little Lake Theater.

Earning her Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance with a French minor from Lee University, she fell in love with operetta and performed as Pitti-Sing in The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan and Fanchette in Le mariage aux lanternes by Offenbach. She acted in her first play as Miep in The Diary of Anne Frank, served as President and Vice President for the Lee University Chorale and was awarded the Honor Award for the Performance Department. An active member of Lee University’s community, Tiffany worked as the choral librarian for Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in addition to being a member of their professional core and singing for the contemporary worship team at Emmanuel Fellowship Anglican Church.

Following graduation Tiffany moved to France where she performed as Griolet in Offenbach’s La fille du tambour major with the Franco American Vocal Academy. Living and working in Strasbourg, France as an au pair, Tiffany sang with L’Arrache Coeur at the University of Strasbourg and the treble ensemble, Plurielles. Returning to the U.S., she taught private voice and piano at David’s Music House in McMurray, PA. performed as a professional core member of the Bach Choir and as a member of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral’s choir.

Tiffany and her now husband, James Meyers, co-founded and acted as administrator for Artists in Ministry North Performing Arts Center (A.I.M. North PAC), a ministry of Christian Bible Fellowship. This ministry used the expertise of community members to teach acting, dance, and private piano and voice lessons to students. Due to the pandemic the ministry concluded in 2021, however, Tiffany still maintains a presence helping with the Artist-in-Ministry summer intensive at Christian Bible Fellowship where she has taught private voice lessons and performed such roles as The White Witch in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and The Woman in Red in Journey to the Celestial City, a children’s production of Pilgrim’s Progress. Tiffany also sings for Christian Bible Fellowship’s contemporary worship team.

Tiffany received her Master’s of Music in vocal performance from West Virginia University where some of her of her most memorable graduate work performances include the partial roles of Mrs. Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Carmen in Carmen, and Frauenliebe und Leben. Tiffany has also performed with the Pittsburgh Savoyards as the title role in Princess Ida and Constance in The Sorcerer.

I first started going to Tiffany at age 12 and I had no prior experience. She taught me how to use my voice and pushed me to become the singer I am today. 3 years ago the thought of getting up on a stage and singing was terrifying, but now I find it exciting-thanks to Tiffany! She had me sing during open stage by getting me out of my comfort zone. Tiffany has been an amazing teacher in my singing journey and I am forever thankful for her lessons.” ~Ava Kasper

Kate Manuel Voice Teacher Higher Voice Studio

Kate Manuel

Kate is a Pittsburgh-based singer, voice teacher, and music director. She believes that singing is a craft, and every single person has the ability to improve their instrument through practice and guidance. Kate is a strong advocate for vocal health and believes that music is a powerful tool for building confidence and finding joy.

Surrounded by music her entire life, Kate performed in musicals and plays before she could walk! She started taking voice lessons in high school, where she decided to pursue music professionally. She holds a Bachelor of Music from Bucknell University, where she studied voice under Dr. Emily Martin and Dr. Elissa Alvarez. She then attended the Conservatoire Francis Poulenc in Tours, France. Some of her favorite roles from school include Dido in Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas and the Third Knitter in Seymour Barab’s A Game of Chance.

Kate returned to Pittsburgh five years ago, where she began teaching voice lessons in her own practice. She performs locally with professional and semi-professional companies, including Resonance Works, the Pittsburgh Savoyards, and the newly-formed Suspension Theatrical Arts, of which she is a founding member. Kate also music directs for Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School’s theatre program.

Kate’s true passion lies in teaching voice. She knows from experience that when a student becomes comfortable and confident in their own voice, so many other aspects of their life are changed for the better – and she is invested in creating that positive change in all of her students.

 

Carolyn Smith

Carolyn is a versatile performer that has been active for over 15 years with repertoire that ranges from The Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Opera The Magic Flute to Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter’s musical Anything Goes. She holds a B.A. in vocal performance from St. Vincent College.  She brings new life to every performance she gives and takes her audience on an unforgettable journey with every song she sings. Over the course of her career, she has sung internationally as a soloist and opera lead, given masterclasses for several studios, has been a vocal educator for several different studios including Carpelz, J&K Musicians Workshop, Sandra Mesler Dance and Performing Arts, and Mon River Arts. She has also worked as a Music Director for several companies including a Children’s Theatre production for Mon River Arts, and Immaculate Conception’s summer camps.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be a part of the incredible faculty at Higher Voice Studio and so excited for what the future holds.”

“Carolyn Smith is hands down one of the best voice instructors I’ve ever worked with. She’s a great teacher who genuinely cares and believes in her students. Carolyn did not only help me become more confident in my singing but she taught me how to accept the areas in my voice that others may have seen as a weakness to see as a strength. Her guidance has also prepared me for professional opportunities that a year ago I would not have imagined happened. In a little over a year, studying voice through Carolyn’s guidance turned my passion from a hobby to a profession.” ~Maame Danso

 

Caitlin Carlisle

Caitlin Carlisle is a singer, vocal educator, conductor, director and instructor at Higher Voice Studio.  She holds a B.S. in Music Education from Duquesne University.​

At a young age, Caitlin became involved with her school’s chorus and sacred music groups. Under the direction of her friend and mentor at the church, Caitlin developed a love of all music genres, experimenting with unusual musical elements.

She went on to attend Woodland Hills High School, where her vocal teacher fostered her love of singing.  Active in her school chorus, Caitlin was awarded the National School Choral Award for her dedication and commitment to the choral department and for excellence in choral participation and leadership.

​Continuing her music education at Duquesne University, Caitlin spent a semester student teaching in Dublin, Ireland as an elementary Choral Director and musical theater Vocal Director.  Her education at Duquesne revealed a new love of traditional solfege (using syllables to teach pitch and music reading) and folk music.  Her travels, combined with the richness of her teaching experiences abroad, provided her with opportunities to explore the combination of these traditional aspects with more contemporary knowledge.

Back in the states, Caitlin taught concert band at Canon McMillan Middle School and, upon graduation, began her professional work with the Woodland Hills School District marching band as well as served as both Vocal Director & Producer for the Junior High musical. She also went to Jacksonville, North Carolina, where she was the Middle School Chorus Teacher, General Music Teacher and School Musical Director at Northwoods Park Middle School.

Caitlin is truly passionate about working with all students (any age group) and about developing their love of music and their passion for performance. She believes that performance is a main outlet in advocating confidence.

Caitlin is also a firm believer in vocalists being independent musicians and fostering their musical education through solfege and sight reading. She attributes her success in sight reading to her experience in both sacred and secular music.

Sight singing and solfege are the main reasons I have had the opportunities I’ve had. Without being able to read my music, a lot of doors would have been closed to me.”

Caitlin is so proud to be a part of this wonderful institution and gathering of educators, all while following the passion of teaching.

“Caitlin is by far one of the best mentors I’ve had the pleasure of working with on my vocal adventure. She is always making sure that you are given the correct technique, the perfect song for your voice, and she opens your mind to going outside of your comfort zone. Being a student of Caitlin’s for over a year now, I’ve noticed so much growth and strength in my performance and I can’t thank her enough for everything she has done for me. She is also a great person to go to when it isn’t vocal related. I couldn’t be happier to have Caitlin in my life.” – Kaylee Skumburdes

Zach Smith

Zach Smith is a pianist and music director new to Pittsburgh and has earned his bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from Millersville University studying under Dr. Xun Pan. He has musical directed 18 shows, mostly at the Ephrata Performing Arts Center including Ragtime, West Side Story, and Sweeney Todd. He was the music counselor for EPAC Summer Theater camps for three years. He also accompanied piano for Locust Grove United Church of Christ in York for several years. He received his MS and BA in Clinical Psychology from Millersville University and has an interest in studying the link between Mental Health and Music as well as Piano Pedagogical Techniques for students with Mental Health Disorders, especially ADHD, Autism, Depression, and Anxiety. He believes in an eclectic approach to teaching piano and a focus on developing not just pianistic skills by nurturing musicianship through theory, ear training, and music history. In his free time, Zach loves spending time with his Goldendoodle Max, watching movies, and writing music.
Jonah absolutely loves Zach as his piano teacher! Zach has much patience for a 9 year old boy. He talks to Jonah about Jonah’s interests and includes them in his lessons. For example, Jonah was to make up a Zelda video game theme song. Jonah thought that was great!  Jonah has learned so much about piano in the few months he has had Zach. Zach is the best! ~Renee Thornton