"Dann Mitton was a malevolent Norimo; his rich bass thundered in the lilting 'Roll it off the Deck,' but he was equally compelling when he used his pianissimos to dramatic advantage." (Opera Canada)
"Dann Mitton was effective in his role as narrator and pulled off his folk ballads convincingly." (Ontario Arts Review)
"As the cowardly 'Hard-Boiled' Herman, bass Dann Mitton displayed his huge, rich voice..." (Stage Door)
Eight years teaching singers of various ages and levels of experience in classical, music theatre, jazz, and folk in one-on-one voice lessons, coachings, and master classes.
Research interests include applied vocal acoustics, motor learning theory, low male voice development, voice habilitation for the aging elite singer, and trans voice pedagogy.
Classical bass singer (seriöser baß) for 25 years performing as a concert soloist, recitalist, professional chorister and opera singer in Canada, the US, Europe, and the UK.
My business has migrated online! I offer 55-minute voice lessons from my home studio in east end Toronto via an online conferencing platform. After you book with me, I will send you easy-to-follow instructions for connecting. I look forward to hearing from you!
Whether you're new to me and looking to book a discovery session, or you're one of my repeat students (welcome back!), you can book with me right here.
Do you need help with English, French, German, Italian, Latin, or Russian lyric diction? Tell me what you're working on and I'm sure I can help.
Are you looking for a voice expert to lead a master class for performers or teachers? Do you need an expert opinion to evaluate at your festival or student showcase? Let's talk.
The Low Male Voice: A Pedagogy Primer
Low Males Voices (LMVs): Development, Technique, and Repertoire
Demystifying Sung Russian (in 50 minutes!)
Sing Through the Change: The Male Expanding Voice
The Singer’s Anatomy and Physiology
Applied Vocal Acoustics: The Basics
Applied vocal acoustics
Habilitation for the aging elite singer
Historical voice pedagogy
The low male voice (LMV)
The male expanding voice
Motor learning theory
Queer and trans voice pedagogy
World lyric dictions
Are you qualified to teach voice?
I am an experienced performer and teacher. In addition to my 25-year performance career, I have four degrees in voice including a Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance (Voice) with a specialization in voice pedagogy from the University of Toronto. My research explores the intersection of Russian lyric diction and low male voice development. (You can find a copy of my dissertation here.) Earning a doctorate meant many hours of teaching and observing. I also learned about various historical traditions in voice instruction, alongside cutting-edge information on how we currently think about the voice and how we can use our voices to make good art. I am actively engaged in continuing education as I expand my knowledge of how to sing CCM (pop/rock/Music Theatre) technique.
Do you only teach low male voices?
Low male voices are my primary interest, and they are the focus of my current academic inquiry. I've also taught sopranos, mezzos, countertenors, tenors, baritones, basses, and singers of various ages and levels of experience in various styles (classical, golden age music theatre, jazz, and CCM).
Can I book a midday lesson on Tuesdays?
Probably? Weekday voice lessons are optimal and work very well for my home studio. Adult learners who are available during the day are some of my favourite clients. :)
What's a formant? Why would I ever want to know about this?
When it comes to the singing voice, people tend to think of formants as resonances of the vocal tract. Some of these resonances help our brains to figure out which words we're singing, and some of them have a big impact on how we experience a voice in terms of ring, registration, and quality. If you're interested in formants, harmonics, sound waves or any of the other cool and interesting stuff that makes up our current model of how the voice works, get in touch.
Does it matter if I don't know X (<-- insert skill, repertoire, voice-related factoid here)?
Whatever you don't know right now can be learned with time, effort, and reliable instruction. I'd love to be part of that process, so let's talk about how I can help.
Can you teach me this Russian song in one lesson?
That's a tricky question. Are we starting from scratch? Or do you need a little grounding in the International Phonetic Alphabet and Cyrillic before that's possible? I've successfully helped many people to prepare their Russian art songs and opera arias, and I can probably help you too. Let's figure out what you need first.
How long does it take to get good at singing?
Another tricky one! Some singers are just naturally well-coordinated. Others (like me) weren't so well-coordinated to start, and that's ok. We just have to work at it diligently with reliable instruction, and be persistent. Depending on the individual skill you're targeting, I think it's reasonable for most people to expect noticeable improvement inside of two months? Current motor learning literature tells us that with compliance to an efficient practice protocol, we can expect to see real improvement in certain coordinated tasks even within two weeks. So it all depends. I can suggest some metrics to track your progress so that you become aware of your successes.
Can I hire you to lead our workshop/present on topic X?
I'd be delighted to help if I'm available. Did you see something in my Presentations topics that you liked, or are you interested in another topic that will take me some time to research? Get in touch and let's talk, especially if you're contacting me from someplace warm ;) .
Do you still perform?
Yes! While performance isn't my main focus, I still enjoy it and continue to work on projects that interest me. Last year I premiered a song cycle written for me by Canadian composer James Moffet, seven gorgeous art songs in English called Sheet Music (2019). Outside of my teaching and researching, I'm still available to sing. Listen to some of my audio clips below to see if we're a good fit, and then tell me about your project?
Tracks in English, French, German, Italian, and Russian posted on Soundcloud.
My June 2020 conversation with Jonathan Ten Brink and Russell Gartner on their The Actor's Voice Studio channel. We chat about teaching voice, online considerations, and some personal connections to singing and teaching singing in various styles.
An early 2018 interview on the low male voice and voice lessons that I did on my colleague Karyn Lane O'Connor's Singwise channel.
Another 2018 vid I made to model the steps for creating an original singers' IPA transcription of Russian text.
We live in a lucky time where voice teachers can draw information from a wide array of sources that range from the historical voice pedagogy texts that encode centuries of tradition, to modern evidence-based resources and motor learning theory. Recent publications and today’s market agree that stylistic cross-training between classical and CCM offers clear benefits. Modern vocal instruction needs to respond to this shift, even as we look to the past for its tested approach to skill-building through strategic vocalises. I am particularly inspired by Garcia, Miller, and Cornelius Reid. If our singers understand how pitch, intensity, and vowel work together, they are in a very good position to sing sensitively and well.
We learn by doing, and I believe that singing well is largely about self-discovery and self-knowledge. Ultimately, we own our vocal discoveries most deeply when we teach ourselves how to sing. Pedagogical efforts to influence posture, imagery, the breath, the shape of the vocal tract, diction, or even a tonal goal, must be motivated by a desire to get the singer closer to their own authentic delivery: to their best, most coordinated, most sustainably communicative self.
The historic Italian school teaches an important connection between how we speak and how we sing: si canta come si parla. When we approach singing texts as heightened, musically elongated speech, we can recruit important neuromuscular patterns that obviate a preoccupation with technique. I am committed to the primacy of the text in most repertoire, and I teach that prosody facilitates style, musical contour, and dramatic impact.
I also teach an active awareness. This can mean simply having the student use a tool such as a mirror or a spectrogram app while they sing, then describe what they saw as we discuss how to improve it. In this way, I hope to engage them in reflexive thinking that will foster the student’s independence.
As a performer, I have participated in a great many master classes at some of the world’s premier artist’s programs with some of the finest singers and coaches of our time. I am fortunate to be part of a robust network of professional voice colleagues. We are constantly reading, singing, collaborating, and exchanging ideas as our pedagogy evolves. These mentors and colleagues inspire my own desire to continue to gain experience, to listen more effectively, and to achieve deeper insights as I open myself to new possibilities in my own music-making and in my teaching.
317 pages, paperback. Helding has written a tour de force on how music-making changes our brains. It combines the latest information on neuroscience and performance practice to produce a very readable narrative. Interesting side interests pair with enough real-world application to keep even the most fickle reader enrolled.
Lynn Helding, The Musician's Mind (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020)
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