Shannon Mercer Music Studio - Voice, Piano and Theory Lessons

About My Teaching

Contact Shannon to inquire about private voice lessons and masterclasses.

My Teaching Philosophy

My belief is that most people have an innate ability to sing; a natural gift that, through music exposure (especially in their early education), can gradually become a passion and even a career.  For me it was the combination of teachers who passed on their love of music, music theatre and plays that toured my schools, my ability to “parrot” recorded singers, and my family’s strong connection to the Welsh culture, which celebrates vocal and choral music. I know first hand how important it is to have a clear and strong technical approach to singing. I began taking voice lessons at the age of 7 with a local teacher who recognized how quickly bad habits were beginning to develop because of my ability to mimic sound, which, in most cases, wasn’t a healthy way of singing. 


Breath is the basis of all singing. Students will learn how breath control is the key to proper support, resonance, phrasing and legato. How you breathe also determines the tempo and direction of the line.  When breath is used efficiently, the consonants (of any language) can then help guide the vowels instead of being grabbed or muscled, thus creating line or legato. This is not to be confused with enunciation. You can have clear diction but the consonants do not dictate the pitch. Your cords are responsible for the pitch not your larynx and although you can use the voiced consonants for effect, it is important not to pitch them and cause the larynx to rise, especially in your upper register. The jaw is neutral, the larynx is relaxed, and the tongue and lips are soft to be able to form vowels and consonants. 

Uneven range and register issues through the passaggio are addressed by slimming the sound (not widening or spreading) allowing for space in the back (between molars) for bloom in the upper registers.  This is also part of achieving a seamless and even sound with no big or awkward shifts between octaves.

My goal is to provide a concise, solid and clear technical approach to producing sound. 

Masterclasses, Coaching and Teaching Experience

2022-Present Shannon Mercer Music Studio
Private music studio offering in-person and online lessons in voice, piano and theory to students starting aged 7 at Osgoode-Kars United Church (Kars, ON) and Christ Church Cathedral (Ottawa, ON)
March 2023McGill University (Montreal, QC)
Early Music Performance Voice Area Masterclass and Coachings
January 2021 – May 2021Glenn Gould School (The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto)
Taught a course in Historical Performance Practices in voice for undergraduate students, focusing on 17th and 18th century repertoire from the four national schools of Baroque music, weekly Masterclasses
2019-2022Bravo Academy (Toronto, ON)
Taught voice, piano, RCM examination preparation, audition and recital preparation, ear training and theory to students in person and online ages 7-20
Sept 2019 – May 2020Regent Park School of Music
Substitute teacher for voice in preparation for the Regent Park Songbook (collaboration with local composers and poems by students) students aged 16-17
2018-2019Melody School of Music, Toronto, ON
Taught voice and piano
2017University of Toronto
Coached students of the Early Music Department
2016-2021Private Teacher
Voice lessons for Undergraduate auditions, RCM exams and Post Graduate auditions, students aged 16-23
2014Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland – Taught Masterclass
2013Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto, ON – Taught Masterclass in Oratorio
2012McGill University, Montreal, QC – Taught Masterclass in Early Music Voice
University of Toronto – Taught Masterclass in Oratorio
Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto, ON – Taught Masterclass in Oratorio
2011University of Toronto – Taught Masterclass in Oratorio
2010Calgary University, AB – Taught Masterclass in Voice
2009Opera Lyra Ottawa’s Young Artist Program, Ottawa, ON – Taught Voice Masterclass
2008Brock University, St. Catharine’s, ON – Taught Voice Masterclass


It is important that voice students participate and collaborate with as many ensembles as possible, schedules permitting. As part of a larger ensemble, students develop excellent skills in sight-reading, ensemble singing (not “blending” but adding unique colour to the palate) and the ability to learn large works (such as Oratorios or Opera). In my career I sang in many Ensembles at University and after, and eventually I was given the opportunity to solo. I particularly enjoy the Sacred choral repertoire and have sung and recorded major works both as soloist/chorister with many groups.


I want students to be passionate about the wide range of repertoire available to you. I will help you develop the skills to know what is suitable for your voice.

Of course Jury or examination requirements cannot be avoided but together we will find repertoire that both covers any requirements and that you find joy in singing. I urge you to take time in the library and look through and listen to repertoire to find what really speaks to you.  Also, it’s best to model your choices by finding examples by similar voice types to help narrow your searches. I do however stress Canadian Contemporary Repertoire as a required component within my studio. 


An essential part of building a career is creating a network of professionals who will help guide and support young singers in the early part of their careers. Through my personal connections with conductors, artistic directors, and other singers, I can help students start developing their networks.

Final Notes

I guide my students towards a more open idea of what it is to be a singer in today’s world and how versatility is key without vocal compromise. With a strong, clear technique, young singers will feel the confidence required to take the next steps toward a career as a professional singer.

Singing is a constant learning experience. Your voice changes and grows as you experience life and mature. I’m here as your teacher to help you navigate any vocal challenges and changes. I will offer encouragement, advice and words of support whenever you need them. Never be embarrassed or uneasy in coming to me with questions or concerns especially if something isn’t suiting you vocally.  Only YOU can know what feels right in your voice.   I will do my best to be your ears and help you become the finest singer and artist you can be! 

Shannon’s Education and Training

2017Studied with W. Stephen Smith in Chicago and coached with Don Tarnawski in Toronto
(Canada Council for the Arts Private Study Grant)
2012Coached with Milos Repicky in New York, NYC
(Canada Council for the Arts Private Study Grant)
2005January-November: studied 6 German Operatic Roles with Margaret Singer, David Aronson, in Bregenz, Salzburg and Vienna, Austria and Ferrara, Italy
(Canada Council for the Arts Private Study Grant)
2004Queen of Puddings, Contemporary Techniques for Classical Singers, Toronto 
2003 Music Academy of the West, Santa Barbara, California
2002 Merola Summer Opera Program, San Francisco Opera, California
2000-2002Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio (COC), Toronto
2001Tanglewood Music Centre Program, Lenox, Massachusetts
1999-2000University of Toronto, Opera Diploma Program
1999 Bachelor of Music – Honours in Performance with High Distinction in Voice and Honours in Early Music Performance & Literature with High Distinction in Early Voice, McGill University, Montréal

Contact Shannon to inquire about private voice lessons and masterclasses.