CS Music recently had the opportunity to host a masterclass featuring Dan Micciche, the current music director/conductor for Wicked on Broadway. He offered some wonderful advice that readers can learn a lot from. Here is a portion of the question and answer session, and if you want to listen to the entire class, look for the link at the end of this article.
Question: What is the biggest piece of advice you have for students auditioning for college?
Dan Micciche: It doesn’t have to be the biggest and best program that everyone talks about. Pick a program that speaks to you and that has the things that you want. Personally, I knew I did not want to go to school in New York City, I knew I was not ready for that. But I also knew I wanted to go to school in a city. I didn’t want to be that far away from where I grew up in Connecticut, but I also knew I didn’t want an enormous campus. So I ended up graduating with 40 people! Since eighth grade I would be looking at the bios in programs to see where people who were working went to school. During the time I was really looking there were about twelve people in 42nd Street on Broadway that went to Boston Conservatory.
Back then I wrote them letters at the stage door (now you can just write anyone on Instagram and ask for advice). I picked a program that was really geared towards what I wanted to do in the arts. So there’s no right or wrong, but be picky about what you want! Why is it the program that you want to study at? Maybe there’s a teacher there, or you can reach out to alumni and ask them what the energy was like at that school.
Q: I’m an upcoming senior and I know you went to Boston Conservatory. I have been looking at Berklee School of Music and I know there’s a lot of crossover. Do you have any opinions on the school?
DM: Yeah, I mean, no school is perfect. No one is going to say, “Oh my god, it was perfect in every single way!” I loved my education at the conservatory, granted it was thirteen years ago and that school has changed a lot. The class sizes were much smaller then and there are certain professors who were enormously influential to me who are not there anymore. (Some are not there for good reason!) The good thing about joining Berklee is one now they have the money of Berklee. We live in a technology world and Boston Conservatory was still handwriting, but Berklee is so advanced.
I was there two years ago teaching a class. You can major in being a music director on Broadway under Eric Stern now, and Eric Stern was one of the biggest directors in the 90’s. Over 25 Broadway shows, every symphony in the world, and he teaches there now. They have a musical theatre program now where a normal Wednesday class is singing certain parts of a Broadway show with a full orchestra. So that is incredibly amazing to have that at your fingertips.
I also think Boston is the perfect city to go to college in because it’s a stepping stone to the craziness of New York City. The fact that there’s 72 music and arts institutes makes a plethora of music opportunities. I have mostly great things to say about that school and the education that I had. It was really hard, but there are a lot of things that I learned that are valuable that I use in my career everyday. Something I don’t, but that’s everything in life.
Q: I’m looking into doing a Master’s Program and I’m wondering if you have any advice on where and if there’s any benefit to doing an MFA vs. and MM?
DM: What’s the biggest difference? (laughs) I guess it depends on what you want to do. If you want to perform I would maybe lean towards an MFA. I wish I could just name off schools that have great graduate programs right now. Randomly, there are four people I know that have gone to San Diego to get a Masters in Music Theatre, I guess they have a good program there. I would just google it: Top 10 Masters of Music Theatre. See what they offer. There are a couple master’s programs where you don’t get to work with the faculty that are working with the undergrads and I wonder why. Some programs are really outdated and are teaching things that aren’t really happening in the industry anymore. I think attending a program that has a dance department is extremely important. 99% of people have to move nowadays. Look for a program that is as diverse as possible in what you want to go into and how you want to go into this business.
If you’d like to connect with Dan Micciche, he is offering the following: vocal coaching, song interpretation, audition technique, conducting technique, and Broadway Industry Q&A. Go HERE for more information. Or read more about him HERE.
Watch the full Dan Micciche Online Masterclass in the CS Music Video Library.