Jody Kidwell

The Academy of Vocal Arts brought Jody Kidwell to Philadelphia. A desire to teach, and to better understand the processes behind singing, brought her to Settlement.

After studying piano for many years, Jody took up singing during high school and went on to study at Ohio State University in her hometown of Columbus, Ohio. Even after completing her studies there, she says, “I felt I still didn’t know how to sing.”

She was spurred along by studies in Austria, where she met a teacher, Sheila Harms, with whom she connected right away. Gradually, the physical processes that make singing possible became clearer to her, and she moved on to AVA, Philadelphia’s famed school for singers, to continue her development.

“It’s unnatural to do with your breath what it takes in order to sing,” she says. “The physical structure of your body—that’s the instrument. I like to say that your voice is in a case and that you have to open it up.”

Imagine encountering a strong smell, or visualizing a circus’ high-wire extending out in front of you: those are the kinds of mental tools Jody connects with physical actions and movements in order to break down the physical process of making sound with the voice. This makes singing easier for her students, and simpler for her to teach and explain.

Still an active performer, it’s not uncommon for her to take on vastly different repertoire in a short span of time: earlier this fall, over one weekend, she performed both Beethoven’s Missa solemnis and jazz songs by Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, and others.

The repertoire she’s chosen for this month’s Karin Fuller Capanna Faculty Recital is similarly eclectic, combining opera and artsong with jazz and cabaret tunes drawn. The program draws from years of performing with piano faculty and Lillian Kraus Felber Distinguished Faculty Chair Jeff Uhlig, her accompanist for the November 19 concert.

Regardless of the material she’s performing, she applies the same lessons on stage that she unfolds during her lessons.

“It’s all about staying in ‘the zone’ getting focused—and then staying focused.”

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Jody L. Kidwell
Voice faculty at the Mary Louise Curtis, Wynnefield and Willow Grove Branches
Faculty member since 1990