Danielle Cozart Steele
In Progress: Doctorate in Music Education from Columbia University Teachers College
Senior Voice Instructor
Danielle Cozart Steele enjoys a multifaceted career as a soprano, conductor, researcher, and voice teacher. An alumna of Butler University and Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, she is currently pursuing her doctorate in music education at Columbia University Teachers College in New York City. She is an intersectional scholar of choral music and trans/queer inclusivity, and her research centers on peace and social justice themes. She is the founder and organizer of the Transgender Singing Voice Conference.
What makes your teaching style unique?
I am a Constructivist teacher, meaning that I start from the student's place and walk with them in their vocal journey rather than making them come to me. We co-create knowledge together, using the student's life and experiences as the framework upon which to build. I also use mindfulness and yoga in combination with my singing technique to bring a singer to a centered, calm place from which they can access vocal technique and expression.
What is your favorite teaching tool?
The STRAWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!! It's like a magic reset button.
How do you practice?
Moving, always moving. Physical engagement is a key element of what I do and how I teach. The more in the body someone can be, the more deeply they can learn. I might learn an aria by marching the poetry's beat pattern, then choreographing the meaning, then completely staging it. I will practice using scarves, straws, props - you name it. Anything to make the abstract (vocal technique) and invisible instrument (the voice) more concrete and real.
Define a pivotal person/moment from your musical development who has helped you get here.
My parents introduced me to all kinds of wonderful music and poetry. We still sing together around the piano during family holidays.
Talk about why you work with trans and non-binary folx?
I've been working with gender diverse singers since 2013. Helping someone find a voice that feels authentic, emotionally powerful, and healthily sustainable for them gives me great joy. I also consider it an element of my social justice work in the world; so often, my students in the trans community have felt silenced. Giving them voice in the literal and figurative sense so they can have agency in the world and over their own bodies is deeply important to me.