“Two things must be in place for a successful singing career. The person must be talented. But most importantly, there must be motivation. ‘How hard are you going to work to achieve the greater goal?’ That is something that I ask all interested students,” says Robert Edwin, of Cinnaminson.
During a recent conversation, Edwin, a professional singing teacher was describing with the straightforward knowledge of a longtime coach, and who has had the experience of working with hundreds of students over the course of 37 years, that a great deal of an aspiring artist’s time is sometimes spent, well, just that—aspiring.
It can be blissful when the thunder of applause reverberates as an artist takes a bow.
“But talent alone will not make you a success in this industry. It’s a very competitive environment.”
A performer as well, who has appeared at Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall, sung Bach cantatas in cathedrals, and has toured extensively throughout the United States and abroad, Edwin teaches singing in his Cinnaminson studio.
The father of two adult boys and grandfather of a boy and girl says he has a keen ear for rising talent and and has helped to develop the careers of many artists, including Tyler Grady, a 2010 American Idol top 24 semifinalist; Josh Young, who was nominated for a Tony Award last spring for his role as Judas in Broadway's Jesus Christ Superstar; and Kristin Alderson, who played “Starr” for many years on the now-canceled soap One Life to Live, but who has joined the cast of General Hospital.
His trajectory in music began in Manhattan. As a young boy Edwin lived in The Ansonia, a mid-rise ornate building, that in its heyday comprised an impressive roster of cultural artists like opera singer Lauritz Melchior and musician Igor Stravinsky. His father, the late Edwin Robert Steinfort, was a vaudevillian singer.
His mother, the late Helena W. Monbo, was a pianist and was the singing teacher who first taught Edwin to sing. Later Edwin would be her partner helping to school students in her New York City studio.
Hearing Edwin reminisce one can imagine the series of dancers, comedy acts and magicians that traipsed across stages during the early part of the 20th Century. During those years, he worked with legendary jazz musician Duke Ellington, actor Ossie Davis and singer Jerome Hines.
“I was always surrounded by music,” says Edwin, 66.
So when Edwin married his wife Faith, and they ultimately settled in Cinnaminson 35 years ago, the baritone continued to actively perform, and commenced his audition-only singing studio.
As a teacher, Edwin concentrates on voice technique (the correct body alignment), the creation of a repertoire, and guiding his mostly under 18-year-olds through stage fright and auditioning.
“Although my youngest student at the moment is 4,” says Edwin, “and my oldest is 90, who is an unbelievably loyal worker, and an inspiration.”
When Edwin isn’t training students and working as the associate editor of The Journal of Singing, a quarterly publication of The National Association of Singing, he spends time vacationing with his wife at their retreat in Adirondack Mountains in New York state.
But never long enough, according to Edwin. As the saying goes, “The show must go on…”
Yesterday the Steinway Society of South Jersey presented Edwin with pianist, Joseph Krupa in Classical Piano Pieces That SING! in the recital hall of the Jacobs Music Recital in Cherry Hill. The fun show highlighted the acknowledged origins of pop songs from classical pieces. Case in point: Barry Manilow’s famous tune “Could It Be Magic” has its roots in Chopin’s “Prelude in C Minor.”
Next up for Edwin will be a a benefit concert at Holy Lutheran Church in Maple Shade on Nov. 11.
For more information visit Robert Edwin Studio’s website.