137 Peele Road
Nashua, NH 03062
In both her training and professional life, Penny Sandstrom has tried to balance her twin passions for music and theater. Now, there are many programs that combine the two, but as an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota, that meant trekking across a long, cold, windy bridge across the Mississippi River several times a day, since the two departments were on opposite sides of the river.
There, she worked extensively with opera director Wesley Balk, both as a performer and director. His love of finding out what his singers could do outside their comfort zones led to exciting and courageous performances. Well known for turning the opera world upside down with unorthodox productions, this theatrical apprenticeship was for her, a formative experience. This sense of play and permission to try something new evoked performances that would not have been possible under other conditions.
A move to NYC and obtaining that all-important Actor’s Equity card led to performing in both musical and non-musical productions. It was then that she realized how differently performers in the different genres had been trained in vocal production. Actors were essentially trained in diction and dialect, and singers in breath control and beauty of tone. Why the different approaches to the same instrument?
As a result of her own vocal crisis due to Muscle Tension Dysphonia, she was led to Lin Schuller and the McClosky Technique. All of a sudden, all of the disparate pieces of the vocal puzzle began to fall into place. While previous voice teachers had given instructions that had no actual background in science, McClosky Technique was based on understanding vocal anatomy, what can go wrong, and how to release muscular tension in order to produce a free, healthy, beautiful tone.
Now she teaches students with many goals, from many walks of life, and with differing levels of training. She combines the wisdom gleaned from each of her past experiences; encouraging experimentation without judgement, being a supportive presence, and ALWAYS using McClosky Technique to help release tension to allow each person to find their own true voice.