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"Ellen Johnson's abillities as a professional vocalist are outstanding and she sincerely endeavors to help and educated students at the highest level. Ellen really gets to the heart of the music when she teaches. I find this missing in today's jazz educators. She would be an asset to any student or school interested in the wonderful music of jazz because she sings it, she supports it and she loves it."
- Sheila Jordan, legendary jazz vocalist and educator
“Ellen Johnson is an exciting performer, a knowledgeable teacher and an effective clinician.”
- Mary Mackenzie, Former Director of Vocal Pedagogy, San Diego State University and former National Vice-President of NATS
“Over the last fourteen years I have had the immense pleasure of collaborating with Ellen Johnson in a number of professional and educational
venues. I have seen her inspire many students with her passion for, and knowledge of the music. Any serious vocal student under her tutelage will
blossom artistically and expressively.”
– Rick Helzer, Former Professor and Associate Director of Jazz Studies, San Diego State University
"Because we are a classical theater training program, many of our students arrive with little or no formal training in singing. Ellen is an ideal singing
instructor for our students. Versed in a number of vocal genres, she is not only knowledgeable, clear and demanding, but also deeply compassionate
and patient. Her ability to teach effectively at a variety of levels is most impressive. Her careful work with many of our “non-singers’ is often as
fruitful and rewarding as her work with some of the more experienced students. Our students have been unanimous in their praise of her teaching
skills and professionalism, and her faculty evaluations have been consistently outstanding."
– Richard Seer, Director Old Globe Theater MFA Program
“I highly recommend Ellen as a musician, singer, and teacher. She has the skill and knowledge to teach many different styles of singing to students of all
ages and levels. She understands proper vocal technique, and is able to translate her knowledge of vocal pedagogy to all styles of singing. She has
wonderful energy and her teaching is positive, encouraging, and constructive.”
- Christine Helferich, Vocal Chair, Jazz Studies Department at California State University
"Her abilities as a professional vocalist are outstanding. I definitely consider her an artist in the highest sense. Add to this the fact that Ellen is a good
communicator and teacher, one that sincerely endeavors to help and educate the students at the highest level. She knows how to explain what she does,
and her ability to discern what the student needs is significant."
– Kim Richmond, professional jazz musician and adjunct professor at USC
"Ellen Johnson is one of those people I have worked with professionally and she definitely knows how to work with people too! She is a talented and
skilled performer and to be blunt, one hell of a teacher."
– Mark Massey, professional pianist and educator
“Ellen Johnson brings many years of experience and dedication to her craft, whether she’s performing or teaching.”
- John Stowell, internationally acclaimed guitarist
“The fact that Ellen Johnson is also a teacher helps ensure the continuation of the art of jazz singing, an art form to which she has made many
distinguished contributions as a performer.”
- Bruce Crowther, author: Singing Jazz and jazz critic
“Her boundless and unwavering devotion and dedication to assisting, nurturing, and educating others is inspirational.”
- Gerald C. Bryant Esq.
“Incredibly talented, dedicated and creative in her performance and teaching style."
– Linda Castro, professional actress, stage director and producer
Ellen LITERALLY saved my voice in 1990. As lead vocalist for the R&B Band, The Midnight Hour, I was singing nightly at clubs four hours straight. I had no technique and was ruining my vocal cords in the process! Ellen concentrated on strengthening my falsetto and getting my "transitional notes" to full volume! Thanks to her compassion for singers and patience during lessons, I not only improved my vocal quality but raised my range a full octave! Who does that??!! Some twenty years later I am still blessed to be working in entertainment as a singer and an actor. Among the tours I've starred in nationally are AIN'T MISBEHAVIN', ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, BIG RIVER, SECRET GARDEN to name a few. I've sung backup and recorded with such artists as CHRIS BROWN, BARRY MANILOW, HELEN REDDY and POISON. I originated the role of Curtis in Universal Studios Hollywood's BLUES BROTHERS R&B REVUE for 13 years. I now work primarily as an actor guest starring on a variety of top TV shows and films but I owe a great deal of my career to the incredible teaching techniques of this gorgeous woman. Thank you Ellen for saving (and starting) my career. I love you for life!
- Dale E. Turner, actor, singer, voiceover artist
Gary Brumburgh / Nashville Tennessee Feb 15 2022
Ellen’s energy, perseverance and audacious love for the vocal instrument, not to mention her dual gifts of performing and teaching, have added untold confidence in my eagerness to find "the groove" and explore the world of jazz. After a long career in musical theatre, I am now about to release my third jazz CD. It wouldn't have happened had it not been for her. I consider her my mentor."
Margaret de Faymoreau / Grass Valley, CA Mar 1 2022
I have been a student of Ellen’s for several years. First attended vocal jazz workshops that were fun, and challenging, in the best way. Since then I have been taking private lessons, which I have thoroughly enjoyed and have found so beneficial. My voice, range and interpretation continue to improve, as well as my appreciation of vocal jazz. And as my confidence continues to grow, I’m enjoying more challenges! If you love to sing…you want to study with Ellen Johnson.
Arabella Dorth / San Francisco, California Feb 17 2022
Coming from a background primarily in choral singing, I was inspired near retirement to take on solo vocal jazz performance (a "late bloomer!"). Ellen's introductory vocal jazz performance classes enabled me to make that transition and provided me with a substantive foundation in vocal jazz performance. It has also served me well in my exploration of other music genres. Ellen really is a masterful teacher, as well as a gifted performer. She brings wonderful energy, keen insight, creative approaches to overcoming blocks and vocal technique issues and a sense fun to her work with students. In these pandemic times, her online workshops and classes have been providing me with a vital means of staying connected with other singers and enabling me to continue my musical journey.
Stephen Alfonso / Grants Pass, Oregon Feb 16 2022
Ellen has helped me exponentially improve with singing. I had no formal lesson prior to meeting Ellen, and I feel like I've lucked out with the "right" teacher the first try. She is sensible, understanding, insightful and willing to work with your vision and what you see in your mind's eye. I never feel like I don't make sense to her when I try and explain what I'm seeing/feeling/hearing and she gives great advice and feedback back to me. I feel much more appreciation for this art and can see so much deeper into it now, and I have many more colors on my palette to choose from and work with. I absolutely recommend her.
Sheetal Singh / Berkeley, CA Jan 10 2022
I’ve studied with a few vocal teachers, but Ellen was the only person who was able to help me understand a particular handicap I had with my vocal technique and help me work through it. Her lessons gave me the confidence to push myself (in a good way) to try new techniques, which in turn helped increase my vocal range. She knew which exercises I needed to improve my performance. Most of all, she is a kind and gentle teacher.
Emily Blossom / Berkeley, CA Nov 28 2021
Ellen is a master vocal teacher. She has a careful and attentive ear for hearing and diagnosing what a singer is attempting to do, and has a wide range of suggestions, analogies, and imagery to make the vocal instrument real. In addition to her skills, she is a lot of fun to work with. I highly recommend Ellen for singers and vocalists of all levels!
Bob Himlin / Dec 5 2019
I studied voice with Ellen in the late 1980s in San Diego, but she was so instrumental (pun intended) in correcting my vocal problems and steering me in the right direction that I still list her on my musical theatre resume 30 years later! I was having trouble getting cast in anything, but that changed once I was able to incorporate the changes from our lessons. She also invited me to a very informative seminar given by her mentor Roland Wyatt (then vocal coach for Manhattan Transfer, among others) that I draw from to this day. Thank you, Ellen!
Yolanda Johnston / Jan 12 2018
Ellen is an amazing vocal teacher! If you have the opportunity to study with her it will be forever worth it! I'm a former student who studied with her when she lived in Long Beach and now I play large stages like the House of Blues and the Belly Up. Someday soon it will be stadiums. Thank you Ellen! <3 I highly recommend getting her vocal warm up CD as well, so good!!
Tina Bachemin / May 10 2015
It's been really exciting to work with Ellen as my vocal coach. She teaches with a lot of heart and sincerity. I recommend Ellen for students of all ages and levels. She is a very experienced, warm and likable singing coach. It's been wonderful for me to discover the finer nuances of vocal technique, the joy of singing, and my own true singing voice with Ellen. Thank you so much!!
“If I had to guess what Ellen Johnson’s students would say about her as a vocal instructor, I would imagine they would agree with me in that Ellen has
the unique ability to ‘demystify’ the art of singing for her students. The prevailing impression is that singing is only bestowed on the ‘gifted’ or the
‘lucky,’ but the truth is, singing is a physical activity that can be improved upon through practice and repetition. Ellen is able to really listen to her
student, then offer just the right instructive suggestion in plain language that the student can then take and apply to his or her technique in such a way as
to refine it, improve it, connect more easily to the internal mechanisms that produce the sound... To simply improve one’s singing technique is not
Ellen’s goal, however: the art of singing is to facilitate a person’s ability to project his or her own unique self out into the world, to make a connection to
other human beings... singing is the vehicle; the language that makes this ‘emotional communication’ possible. So in thinking about it more closely, I’d
have to say that Ellen is in reality a ‘vocal linguist,’ with each student’s dialect being slightly different from the next.”
– Shirley Downie, voice student
"Ellen Johnson is an Amazing vocal instructor and performer. She has a unique blend of technical expertise in vocal production/breathing; musical
expertise in almost any genre including jazz, blues, scatting, folk, opera, classical, showtunes, and just about anything you could hum; and finally
an artistic expertise an emotional connection to music and lyric that makes a song come to life and touch the listener. She'll push you and make you push
yourself. You’ll grow in skill and repertoire and all the while.... having a great time, because she makes it fun with her joyful and kind spirit. All that and
she's nice too."
- Susan Picking, singer/songwriter (sometimes Irish traditional and jazz dabbler)
"Since I have been working with Ellen, my voice has completely changed. My friends and family have not only noticed a transformation of my singing voice in the last few years but also a transformation in my confidence. which is still growing."
– Julia Rockowitz, voice student
"I never realized how much of jazz was within my reach until Ellen Johnson showed me it was right there. I have learned more from her about the
literature, techniques, theory and sheer fun of jazz vocalizing than I can possibly ever thank her for."
– George Neil, voice student
"Ellen Johnson is an amazing teacher. Since I have been taking lessons with Ellen I have seen a great deal of improvement in my vocal technique and
performance. My skills for auditioning have improved also. Ellen Johnson isthe only teacher I have ever had that can explain something to me in a way I
can understand. For example I had trouble with breathing technique and she is the first teacher I have ever had who has been able to help me correct it."
- Kelsea Scheppmann Circe, High School Student (Finalist in the Grammy Student Jazz Awards)
"Ellen Johnson is a "teacher extraordinaire". Not only does she know her stuff but she knows how to teach it to students of all levels. She makes the classes fun and interesting. Ellen also has great performance skills as well. I have taken classes with Ellen for over 4 years and I can say that it really has increased my knowledge of music and especially of jazz."
- Gale Edwards, jazz workshop student
"I've worked with Ellen both in a group situation, and one-on-one, and she always has valuable input. Not only is she helpful from a technical perspective, based on her experience, but more importantly, her passion for jazz vocals in truly inspiring to those she's around. She's dedicated to helping others, which is the icing on the cake. Thanks for all your help Ellen."
- Richard Winzler, professional singer, musician and composer
"Ellen is an amazing teacher. Her classes are challenging, yet fit for any level of training. She inspires you and is encouraging along the way. Daily use of her vocal exercise tape has helped me be ready for any performing opportunity that may come my way."
- Cami Black, actress and singer
Ellen has the ability to listen & diagnose what is going on with you vocally. She has a gentle, warm Spirit that helps you relax and eventually become uninhibited. She guides you to your vocal creative self and surprisingly, you'll find your way to the stage if you've not gone there before! If you have been there, but not active for a while, she can help you exactly where you are, and encourage you to get back out there! If you're onstage now and seeking a little more, she can help you improve beyond your expectations! I LOVE Ellen's teaching techniques, and have truly missed her regular group sessions, and her private in-person one-on-one sessions. Thanks Ellen... you ARE the BEST!
- Denise Anya, singer
Ellen Johnson brings the best out of any student who loves jazz, is willing to work and wants to grow. She's an incredible resource who can unlock the fundamentals of song choice, feel, form, chord changes, the rhythmic pocket and all that jazz -- so a student of hers gets a solid structure to play on. Then Ellen guides you to your best efforts: the quicksilver freedom within structure that's the hallmark of all the best jazz. All with a passionate, fun energy that you can't help but tap into. Plus she sings like a swinging angel (if a bit of a naughty angel, perhaps, sometimes . . .).
--George Neil (Bass/baritone; vocal jazz student of Ellen's in L.A. in recent years, for several years).
I am so grateful to have had Ellen come into my life. With the time I had with her, she helped open up my voice and we discovered new things that I never knew I could do with my range. She is a very sweet woman and a wonderful vocal coach!
- Harmony Hartley, former student
I took lessons from Ellen when I was living in LA. She is a fabulous teacher and made some things stick in my head that hadn't seemed to take hold in previous lessons, me benig the stubborn person I can be! I can also still feel the influence of what I learned from her in my musical activities now. My time with Ellen made me a much more well rounded musician. Additionally, I have seen her take someone I honestly though didn't have much hope for (although they sure loved singing) and turned this person into a competent singer who turned out some pretty good performances. She is open to all levels of talent and encourages you to be the best you can be while not stressing you out. And finally there is the perk of getting to sing with musicians I never could have if it wasn't for Ellen's connections in the industry. That was just plain cool.
- Mila Pavek, former student
Ellen is an intuitive voice teacher. She takes in what a singer has going on already and then pulls from her deep knowledge of the voice, methods to help the student open up and express. On a larger level, she understands the voice as a metaphor for life. I am grateful for her ability to focus on various elements (technique, emotional expression, improvisation, theory) within each session and I love that she not only works with the jazz genre, but also others (musical theater, R&B, etc...though am quite sure that jazz is her first love). Ellen was also instrumental in helping me and another student prepare for and pull off a shared recital. She has helped me rise to a space that I could only dream of before. So if you are looking for someone to work with, look no further - you've found her!
- Jennifer Firepine
How fortunate it was to meet Ellen Johnson. My songs in her class: Try to Remember/Embraceable you/God Bless The Child/A Change is Gonna Come. Well, a change has come for me and I feel that I can go on because of the wonderful voice lessons and the encouragement she gave to me when I was about to give up. The world would be a better place if their were more Ellen Johnson's in it. Thanks Ellen
- Lady B
Ellen is one of the most energetic, effective, and thoughtful teachers I have ever had. I have taken both "Jamming Jazz Singers" and "The Definitive Jazz Singer" with her at the Jazzschool, and am always impressed with how she is able to give feedback in a positive way and really build each student's strengths while teaching everyone at the same time. I'm also a private lesson student, where she has helped me not only open up my voice and build technique, but also how and why I can work on certain things. She also teaches some theory and history along the way. Many voice teachers try to help you with technique but along the way the student loses what makes their voice special. Ellen is the opposite, truly working with what you have already to make it stronger. I would recommend Ellen to anyone. She is truly a gem!
- Ivy Hest
I love Ellen's vocal warm-up books! They are very useful, both for your voice and ear training! Thank you so much!