Just because he’s traveled the world as an accomplished professional musician doesn’t mean Pittsburgh Opera vocalist and music teacher Joseph Helinski doesn’t have a deep appreciation for his hometown roots.

A native of Canonsburg, Helinski received his undergrad degree in vocal performance from Penn State, and his master’s from the prestigious Aspen Music Festival and School in Colorado, where he sang with Renee Fleming, among others.

When he auditioned for the Pittsburgh Opera Chorus, he got quite a surprise.

“I was in the Pittsburgh Youth Chorus as a soprano in my early teens and did all sorts of roles in collaboration with the Opera. I walked into the restroom before my audition and there was a picture of me, right on the restroom wall,” he laughs.

“It was like a little homecoming for me,” Helinski added.

Helinski currently has around 30 students with a wait list for fall. Living in Canonsburg with his wife and newborn daughter, he teaches private voice and piano lessons out of his studio there.

As if performing with the opera and a full teaching load wasn’t enough, Helinski recently launched a voice teaching platform called Maestro Artists with industry professionals John Carpenter and Graham Sanders. In addition to being a professional opera singer and voice teacher, Carpenter is also Helinski’s brother-in-law.

Sanders is Helinski’s former voice coach who had a music career in Europe before returning stateside to teach. The three were closely connected and began spit balling ideas when the pandemic hit, threatening to shut down theaters and the entire global art scene.

“The world seemed to be moving in a remote direction, but there weren’t many cohesive platforms where we could connect students and professional vocal teachers/artists. The sites that did exist seemed to have no real vetting process for teachers and were all over the board. We wanted to make a premium product with our collective, established professional connections,” Helinski explains.

The site goes beyond simply offering voice lessons.

Prospective students from all levels have their choice of classes, audition feedback, mentoring for aspiring professional singers, even a public speaking/confidence building course.

All someone needs to do is log on, book a lesson with their choice of teacher, and go from there. In terms of teachers to choose from, every teacher bio on the site is linked with an audio recording so that the prospective student can hear the quality and tone of the teacher’s singing voice.

“As a voice teacher, it amazes me that there are so many students who choose a voice teacher without listening to him/her sing beforehand,” Helinski said.

Teachers are matched with students based on skill level, voice part, student needs and priorities, and geographical preference.

Lessons are offered virtually as well as in-person depending on what the individual situation allows. The platform is a premium Zoom platform, allowing for the highest quality of sound online.

“Because the voice teaching process is more conversational, it’s a perfect context for voice lessons,” Helinski said. “As teachers, we go by look, listen, and feel. I can tell by looking at a student what their sound will be like and how to improve it without hearing a single note.”

When asked how it’s been going, Helinski is hopeful but modest.

“We really just launched this in the last three weeks, so it’s pretty early days yet, but it seems like it will catch on pretty quickly via word of mouth,” he said. “People have been really encouraging so far.”

It’s fitting that news of this exciting platform that will allow so many people to find their voices will gain momentum through people’s voices as well. In fact, helping others to find their voice might just be Helinski’s raison d’etre.

When asked what his favorite piece to teach is, he says simply, “It’s whatever my student needs, and whatever gives them that ‘aha’ moment. Whatever piece allows them that magic moment of finding their voice. They look at you, wide-eyed, as if to say, ‘Did that just fly out of my mouth?’ It’s a huge turning point, and it’s why I do this.”

For more about Maestro Artists, visit maestroartists.biz.

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