who have studied with Michael
names for complete quote in a PDF file)
(cellist/recording and touring artist with Les Claypool)
"I feel very grateful for the time we got to spend together.
You opened my ears and mind to the next logical steps
in jazz and other types of improvisation.
My ability to explore more interesting harmonic
and melodic concepts has expanded into larger,
more interesting melodic leaps plus
more effective use of altered and whole-tone scales.
As I come to terms with the role of the cello in a jazz setting,
I feel like everything we worked on
is very present in my improvisational endeavors."
"I have only been studying with Michael for a few months,
but have already seen dramatic results in my piano playing.
Michael's attention to detail and focus on building
an extremely strong foundation have totally altered
my approach to the piano, and I feel confident that
I am now on the path to much more accomplished playing."
I am in a much better position as a performer
after working with Michael Smolens. I originally contacted
Michael to learn vocal technique, but what I am learning
from him goes far beyond that. From the finer points
of bandleading, to marketing myself as a teacher,
to discussing more effective practice strategies,
Michael is helping me develop every aspect of myself
as a career musician. As hard as it is to make a living
as an independent artist, the skills and tools
that Michael is arming me with give me confidence
that I can make it work!
(touring vocalist/multimedia composer)
"After years of touring, recording and performing
I have worked with many vocal teachers and coaches.
Michael was extraordinary at quickly identifying
and moving me through my current set of limiting constraints.
In a short period of time, my voice improved greatly
and I gained an excellent education and ability
that I had not previously gotten from my formal training.
His expertise of the voice was apparent quickly
and his ability to personally pinpoint and apply
the right techniques to my needs was very impressive.
is always insightful, meticulous, and draws from
an exceptionally broad palette of musical knowledge
and experience in addressing each area of concern.
Not to be understated is the fully supportive
and inspirational working environment
he has created in his personal studio.
Michael is a teacher of unsurpassed skill and dedication...."
(vocalist/multi-instrumentalist/ composer/arranger/teacher/recording artist)
"This has been such a fun process,
and drawing on all the musical skills I’ve got!
From soloing on the keyboard, to comping various rhythms
with the B3, to arranging three voices in harmony,
to jotting down rhythmic ideas in rhythm notation,
I owe a lot to your guidance. Not to mention
all the ‘other’ stuff of a musician’s life,
like posting Craigslist ads, maintaining an email list
with concert announcements, keeping the plants
in my studio healthy... ;)
So... Thanks! Really appreciate your sharing
all that knowledge and experience..
And enjoying putting it to use now."
with Michael] has meant encompassing
areas such as more confident performance,
more productive practice, and a more positive approach....
I've been able to fill in gaps in
fundamental skills while concurrently learning how
to achieve the more advanced contemporary sounds
I wanted to incorporate in my guitar and band playing.
The ability to study vocals and arranging with Michael
also adds to my versatility and value in
professional situations. He continues to give me
very helpful coaching on the delivery of my
stand-up comedy, and provides a number of
excellent resources for study."
always gave me a lot of insight on my pieces.
I was very impressed that he is comfortable in
the realms of jazz, classical, rock and world music!
He introduced me to a lot of great
contemporary composers I had never checked out before.
Each lesson was filled with musical information
and new and different ways of approaching my compositions.
(voiceover artist/script editor)
provided me with training for both
the writing of scripts for very complex software tutorials
and recording the accompanying voiceovers
for Bio-Rad Labaratories, Inc. His experienced direction
during the recording brought us to
a highly-polished final product.
The recording was well-received by the Marketing Department
and was the forerunner to subsequent projects.
I look forward to many years of future collaborations between
over eight years Michael has helped me
expand my 'palette' of composition tools to a
dramatic extent, suggesting creative ideas
I wouldn't have come up with on my own.
With his coaching I now have a
much broader understanding of vital concepts such as
creating contrast, melodic development,
and several others. I receive many compliments on
my songwriting, and I attribute a significant degree
of that to the instruction I have received from Michael."
Tess Kelly (pro vocalist/recording artist)
"I came to Michael as a 51 year old, high soprano -
trained in the bel-canto method –
and a jazz singer looking for my natural voice.
Michael helped me incorporate my voice
with my whole body and overcome
my tendency to sing sharp. My middle and
lower range are coming more naturally now
and my body has evolved in unexpected ways.
His coaching goes beyond singing
and his passion for his work is contagious.
I feel more relaxed and confident
and I am getting rave reviews
from the audience as a result.
Thank you Michael!"