Since its inception, Marquee Youth Stage of St. Charles has had a goal to ignite creativity in youth through performance. Through singing and performing, kids are able to garner the confidence they need to lead inspiring lives.
Mara Dale, voice teacher at Marquee Youth Stage, knows the benefits of performing. Since an early age, Dale aspired to be on the stage, and her passion has followed her throughout the entirety of her life.
Fast-forward to today; Dale is now a vocal instructor at Marquee Youth Stage, where she teaches everything from vocal lessons to sight-reading music to music theory. Dale recently took the time to sit down with freelance writer Violet Marquardt to discuss her position as a voice instructor.
Violet Marquardt: How long have you been in the world of performance?
Mara Dale: When I was 5, I saw “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in theater. I just thought, “I want to do that.” I did musicals and plays in school, I was in choir; I took AP music theory; I danced. … I tried to do all the art forms that I could. I ended up receiving my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting from Syracuse University.
Marquardt: What inspired you to begin teaching?
Dale: When I came back after graduating [from Syracuse], I saw a position open at Marquee for music directing and slowly I transitioned over to teaching.
Marquardt: How has teaching differed from performing? How do you like teaching thus far?
Dale: It’s a very fulfilling job working with kids and working in education. I love it. The kids are so lovely to work with. … They’re all great kids; they work hard; they practice; and they’re enthusiastic. They make it so much fun.
Marquardt: What are some of your goals as a teacher?
Dale: My goals are to help these young adults gain confidence in [themselves], gain confidence in their voice and learn to use their voice in a healthy way – not just in singing, but also in life. When you have that autonomy over your voice, you become a much more powerful person. I want to make them stronger people.
Marquardt: Can you further detail how singing and performing grants kids’ important life skills?
Dale: Kids gain skills in working together and collaborating in groups or a team. Kids gain confidence in themselves. … When kids are able to master a skill or get really good, they are able to take on leadership roles and teach other kids and have that relationship with their peers.
Marquardt: Besides teaching, how else are you involved in the world of performance?
Dale: I’m a professional actor in Chicago, I live here and work and audition here. Right now, I’m teaching with Barrel of Monkeys, which goes into Chicago Public Schools and teaches creative writing residencies. We take the stories the kids write and adapt them for the stage, whether its song or dance or a series of vignettes. We take the pieces back to the school and perform them for the kids, so they kind of feel like authors or rock stars.
Marquardt: And finally … do you think anyone has the ability to sing?
Dale: I do think anyone can sing. I have taught some tone-deaf people before, and they are less tone deaf after time. I think it’s possible. If you want to do it, do what makes you happy.