Joan Caplan has that rare ability to communicate in teaching what as a singer she was able to bring to her performances: disciplined musicianship, a powerful presence and deeply committed interpretation, and a refined and natural technique. She has taught singing for many years—at Boston Conservatory, Oberlin Conservatory, Suny-Fredonia, Israel Vocal Arts Institute and Centro Studi Italiani—and has been on the Manhattan School of Music faculty since 1993. Many of her students have gone on to successful careers as singers and teachers.

students’ reviews
...“The vocal standout of the evening was mezzo-soprano M.F. as Suzuki. She produced an unforced tone in even her biggest moments. Because she was vocally relaxed her voice was warm and larger than the others on stage.”
Newark Star Ledger

...“Guest soprano C.W. provided much of the spirit. Her voice is rich and resonant...Her control was apparent from the first few phrases...W. sang the opening note of each phrase with a powerful crescendo, as if it were a cry rising and surfacing from beneath an ocean of grief...P.B. who sang both baritone and countertenor, was a close equal.”
The Milwaukee Journal
...“Some glorious singing from coloratura soprano K.B. as the heroine Mabel.”
Denver Post
...“The other main vocal pleasure was in (soprano) M.B.’s rendition of Mrs. Ford. Ms. B. is a student of Joan Caplan and her singing was lovely, lithe and accurate and charmingly Rossinian.”
—New York Times
...“D.G., a countertenor of extraordinary gifts with rare lyricism and flexibility.”
Greenwich Time
...“Of the three countertenors only D.G. ever let fly with something hair-raising. As the treasonous Cleone his last act aria brought the near somnolence of the evening to an abrupt remission.”
Princeton Star Ledger
...“The first, fundamental lesson of operatic singing ‘Bring the words to life’ seemed unlearned by anyone except the countertenor D.G.”
New Yorker
...“L.Y. (mezzo-soprano) was engaging as Xerxes...her voice was strong and sure.”
Milwaukee Journal
...“L. Y. (mezzo-soprano)...offered consistently gorgeous sound delivered with impeccable technique.”
Milwaukee Sentinel
...“Mercutio played by R.S. (baritone) almost stole everyone’s show...strong baritone voice.”
Virginia News Leader
...“Corinna was the role once sung by Giuditta Pasta, and if she was better than big-eyed and big-voiced S.F. (soprano) the Parisians were lucky indeed.”
The Wall Street Journal
...“Farbelhaft Marguerite S.F.”
Die Kölner
...“I cannot imagine a better singer than K.B. (soprano) as the girl, Kelly.”
Opera News
...“K.B. ...singing with considerable purity and zeal”
Philadelphia Inguirer
...“The pure supersonic coloratura of I.D.”
Boston Globe
what students say
Dear Joan,
Your ears must have been ringing a couple of weeks ago...At the end of the first day of rehearsal the musical director asked me where I went to school...[I said] if he was asking where I got my training it was with Joan Caplan. He said that’s why I sound so healthy in every part of my range. We spent a great deal of time singing your praises. Black Water went very well for me...I was continually asked not only where I got my singing training...but also where I got my acting training.

I had to think about it for a while...and finally said that I got that training from you, as well...that, although you like pretty sounds, you teach that singing is not about pretty sounds, but about communicating. People from HOS came to opening night...they flew back for closing night to hear whether I could do as good a job at the end of the run (12 performances in 14 days). They said it was even better at the end - and asked with whom I studied.

I’m leaving for Denver...I’ll call you before I leave, but you don’t suffer compliments very easily, and I don’t want to try to tell you all of this over the phone.

I know that I haven’t seen much of you in the past couple of years. But my technique feels generally solid: I know that I stray every once in a while, but I also know how to get back on track.

Thank you for teaching me to sing. I know that God gave me a pretty voice, but you taught me how to use it, and you did a better job of that than anyone else in the world could have. Thank you for your generosity with me - for always welcoming me fully, even when I was nuts and even when you hadn’t heard from me in a year - and for nudging me into the world when you knew I was ready, even though I was still scared...Love, K.B. (soprano)

Dear Joan,
When I decided to attend Manhattan School of Music for graduate school, everyone told me about all the great connections and training I would receive, that there would be wonderful performance opportunities, and great coaches. That was all true, but I could never have imagined what a wonderful voice teacher I would find in you. Now, after three years of studying with you, not only am I singing wonderfully, but I know HOW to sing wonderfully - I have a real, solid technique that I can depend upon under any circumstances...Most of all, thank you for always encouraging me to be an artist above all else and to trust my own instincts as a singer and performer.
Love and respect,
V.C. (mezzo soprano)
Dear Joan,
Thank you so much...I feel my technique getting stronger and stronger...Importantly I’m starting to have more fun performing. Thank you again.
Love J.J. (soprano)
Dear Joan,
Since I began studying with you two years ago, I’ve made more progress than I had ever hoped to make, and have gained (and continue to gain) incredible knowledge and confidence in my technique. Not only have you helped me to discover and free my own voice, you have also helped me grow as an artist and as a person, giving me the necessary tools for a successful and fulfilling career. I have heard incredible growth in all of her students at every level.
J. Z. (tenor)
It is with immense pleasure that I can tell you a little bit about my teacher, Joan Caplan, and how she is one amazing teacher and person. I first came to Joan while looking for a teacher who could help me. I had developed such tensions with my previous teacher that I had never had before, and I did not know how to get rid of them! My jaw shook on the first A above the staff, I felt a tightness in my throat that did not allow me to practice for long without feeling very tired, and I felt as though I were having to “reach” vocally for higher notes that were never a problem to me before. I took several consultations with teachers looking for what I thought I knew was the “right way to teach.” I needed someone who could tell me how to place the voice and where to place it, or so I thought. This was what I knew and what I thought I needed. I was on a search to find my new teacher.

When I had my consultation with Joan, I sang for her, as I did with the others, and we worked a little together to get a sense of how she could help me. I remember that I sang Mozart’s, “Deh Vieni” from Le Nozze di Figaro. Overall it was pretty good, but there were a few things that needed help and so we began; this is when something new and exciting happened. Without telling me where to put my voice and how to create a better sound, she had me get into the heart and mind of Susannah and all of a sudden, the sound was freer, easier, and all without having to contort or manipulate any part of my mouth or body. It was a new sensation; I was hooked and wanted more.

The next step was to take a full lesson with Joan. I was excited by how well the “Deh Vieni” went, but that was my best and most polished piece at the time. That first consultation I was more concerned about impressing her. Now I wanted her to impress me. I brought my most vocally difficult and frustrating piece at the time, “Je Veux Vivre” from Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. It was a challenge. The piece had a lot of bad habits in it, and I was determined to sing it. By the end of the lesson, she had me singing some of my problem spots without any effort or tension whatsoever. This was a huge breakthrough. I felt as though the words were so easy to say, no matter how high or low they were. I was able to create beautiful words and sounds not by controlling, placing, or manipulating, but rather by allowing, releasing, and letting. It was a very scary feeling indeed...and an exhilarating one at that!

My search was over. I had found what I was looking for and at the same time, it was not what I thought it was going to be. I had found a teacher who had the necessary tools to help me sing with freedom, agility, and ease. I did not find someone who wanted me to “put the voice here” or “place the sound there.” I found someone who could teach me to musically say what I mean and mean what I say and allow a sound to flow forth. I had never had a teacher like this before, and I have also never sung so well before. Now, 9 months later I don’t just sing “Je Veux Vivre” like nobody’s business, I own it! I know it may sound cheesy, but it’s true. I am still a work in progress and still have to keep myself from falling off the right path at times, but I am singing like I never have before.

My voice now still sounds like me, that essential part that is the color and timbre of my voice, but only better. It now carries a warmth throughout the range, is effortless to produce, is now capable of doing so much more—singing with a beautiful piano or a crescendo or decrescendo with ease, and subtle nuances that were not technically possible before. All of this has been possible by studying with Joan. She is a world-class teacher, a fantastic woman, and she keeps the fun in learning to sing well. After all, why do it if you’re not having fun and loving it? My only regret is not having met her sooner! C.B. (soprano)

what coaches say
“...She (Joan) is a master teacher of the highest order and teaches a technique that is as successful with the most advanced, professional singers as it is with undergraduates. She is known for her generosity of spirit with colleagues and students alike.” P.G.

“...I have known Joan first by name as her reputation reaches Europe...she is one of the most extraordinary teachers in New York and has established herself as a leading force in the field of vocal training. She has created a very thorough method of teaching voice which can literally build a singer from scratch...she is equally effective with the budding singer and the star.” P.V.