News / Blog

Joan O’Malley: From MA to PhD

Tuesday 28th November 2023

We send our warmest congratulations to MA Voice Pedagogy alumna Joan O’Malley, who in October 2023 enrolled as a PhD candidate at Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) under the supervisorship of Dr Rachel Talbot and Dr Helen Lawlor!

A classically trained soprano, Joan’s operatic roles to date include Susanna (Mozart/Le Nozze di Figaro) and Nedda (Leoncavallo/I Pagliacci), and she has also performed as a soprano soloist in oratorio in venues including St Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna and Westminster Cathedral, London.

Joan’s academic success began when she graduated with First Class honours in (BMus) Vocal Performance from the former DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama and also received the McNamara Gold Medal for Excellence in Performance.

Joan had aspired to complete a Master’s degree in vocal pedagogy – in order to consolidate her learning in some aspects of her own teaching practice – for a while before she attended her first short course with the Voice Study Centre in August 2019. Attracted to the part-time nature of the Voice Study Centre’s MA Voice Pedagogy programme and buoyed by Director of Studies’ Debbie Winter’s “constant supportive presence”, she began her MA studies the following year, and the entirely online pathway proved to suit her busy schedule perfectly.

Throughout her studies with the VSC, Joan enjoyed the “wonderful library of study resources”, including diverse lectures, courses and workshops led by world-class experts from various fields. She eventually graduated with Distinction in July 2023. As a direct result of her MA research, Joan’s PhD carries on the theme of vocal onset pedagogy and nomenclature.

The goal of Joan’s PhD research on the nomenclature relating to onset and its utility in illustrating the interrelatedness of disparate aspects of vocal technique is not only to facilitate singers engaging with a variety of teaching approaches, but also assist singing teachers in assessing new students and in communicating key pedagogical concepts through a single and comprehensible focus. The first phase of her research will take the form of a case study design; this will be followed by action research with TU Dublin Conservatoire undergraduate students.

There are further exciting things on the horizon too. In January 2024, Joan will present her MA research on mid-career baritone to tenor transition during the 17th annual Postgraduate Conference – under the joint auspices of the Society for Musicology in Ireland (SMI) and the Irish National Committee of the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM-IE) – at Maynooth University in County Kildare.

Joan O'Malley

Joan O’Malley graduated with Distinction from the MA in Voice Pedagogy at the Voice Study Centre/University of Wales Trinity St David in July 2023, and has just enrolled as a PhD candidate at the TU Dublin Conservatoire under the supervisorship of Dr Rachel Talbot and Dr Helen Lawlor.


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