By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Westborough – Mezzo-soprano Julie Krugman debuted onstage as a high school sophomore portraying the female lead in a comic operetta. Now, she’s a vocal teacher with 40 middle and high school students at her home studio in Westborough.
“I’ve loved teaching from the moment I started,” she declared. “I have a lot of fun with these kids.”
Krugman attended middle and high schools without much of an arts program other than an annual stage musical. While in middle school, she listened to the radio and sang along with recordings by Karen Carpenter, known for her low vocal range. As a high school sophomore, she auditioned for “The Pirates of Penzance.”
“For my audition I sang a Karen Carpenter song, which was truly ridiculous considering it’s a soprano role,” she relayed. “I managed to get the lead role.”
Krugman received a degree in vocal performance from Indiana University School of Music. Then she earned a master of vocal performance at the Northwestern University School of Music in Evanston, Ill.
“I was thrust into having voice lessons for the first time in my life at Indiana University with a very aggressive music program,” she noted. “Moving up to my graduate program with a smaller environment at Northwestern University, I had a more encouraging relationship with my teachers.”
Her husband’s work relocated them to Massachusetts in 2005. Their children at the time were ages 2 and 5, so they moved to Westborough based on hearing it has a good school district. The family had previously lived in urban locations in Illinois and California, where she performed as a vocalist.
“As I got assimilated with suburban life and Westborough, I realized that there’s a great arts program at the middle and high schools,” Krugman said. “And as I was reevaluating the next phase of my life, I thought about teaching. I’ve always been a singer, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a good teacher.”
In 2009, she opened her voice studio. As the business has developed, she continues to incorporate lessons learned from her college studies.
“I started with one high school senior who was applying to a musical-theater program in 2009, and it grew from there,” she said. “When I started teaching here, I didn’t want to be that teacher who couldn’t connect with my students in whatever way was necessary. I feel as if my job is to be their cheerleader as well as their teacher – and I didn’t get a lot of that as a young singer. I learned that it’s best as a voice teacher to be a supporter and positive influence on your students.”
Not accepting younger students was a conscious decision, Krugman noted.
“Middle school is when the voice starts changing – for girls and boys,” she explained. “I’m not a proponent for teaching little kids to try to sing like adults. I have a good working relationship with the people who run the music and theater program in the Westborough middle and high schools. We’re all on the same page when it comes to our students.”
In 2012, Krugman joined the faculty at Worcester State University as an applied music instructor in voice. As an adjunct faculty member, she teaches a wide range of music subjects from Opera Appreciation to a seminar called Theater Rocks.
She strives to share her eclectic musical tastes with her students from middle school through college.
“I’m constantly listening and learning about different musical styles that are out there,” she said. “It’s a blast for me to teach kids about this stuff.”