Renowned performer Amy Murphy teaches vocal instrument

By Clay Ratcliffe

Amy Murphy

Amy Murphy instructs Jane Morgan Sauls in voice warm-up exercises in her Mountain Brook Village studio. Photo by Madoline Markham.

One glance at Amy Murphy’s calendar – color coordinated and organized to the max – would make any normal person’s jaw drop.

But not Amy Murphy.  She handles her packed schedule with a gleaming smile on her face because she is absolutely in love with what she does. Each day Murphy teaches the “vocal instrument” using her unique technique based on natural “vocal reflexes” that can be put in a certain order to enhance singing.

“The vocal instrument is my passion,” Murphy said. “It’s an instrument everyone can play, and no two instruments are the same.”

Originally from New York, Murphy has performed all over the world in esteemed New York venues such as Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall and the Dicapo Opera Theater, yet she has also always taught those who want to learn how to perfect their own voices. As a student at Julliard and The New England Conservatory of Music, one teacher laughed at her when she announced that she aspired to teach voice. Now, Murphy’s students and their vocal instruments are her life’s work, and for the past 10 years she has put down roots pursuing this passion right here in Mountain Brook.

The Amy Murphy Studio, located in the heart of Mountain Brook Village, provides students with lessons straight from the “vocal mechanic” herself. Aspiring singers come from all over the state just to learn vocal technique from Murphy, and she somehow finds time to fit everyone in. It was clear to Murphy upon moving to this community that there was a great appreciation for all walks of art. She fits in perfectly among the passion for the arts she sees in everyday life in Mountain Brook.

“I love the boutique culture of Mountain Brook,” she said. “There’s a real quest for artistic and academic excellence. It’s a true gem of culture. Internationally, there are small cities that have a pocket of the arts, and Birmingham is one of them.”

Murphy will not hesitate to tell anyone that her absolute favorite thing about living in this community is directing the Junior League Choral Group. She describes her experience directing the dynamic women’s chorus as being with sixty of her best friends on a mission to bring “gourmet music” to those who are not always fortunate enough to have that beauty in their daily lives. Just talking about the group’s various vocal performances all over the Greater Birmingham area makes Murphy beam, and it should seeing as how she has brought the choral group to new heights, even getting them to a performance at Carnegie Hall under the direction of the world renown composer John Rutter.

Just as Murphy has been good to the community of Mountain Brook, Mountain Brook has been good to Murphy. When Murphy hosted a college-intensive program for students to perfect their voices before their college vocal auditions, Mountain Brook Village businesses chipped in, providing use of their storefront space and filling swag bags with goods to help the studio out with the hoards of students. It is this community spirit, the give and take to help each other out, that reminds Murphy that she chose the right home for her studio.

“I love being in the Village and supporting the Village,” she said.

Murphy’s goal for all of her pupils is to know that they can sing, to grow confident in that fact and to carry that confidence into their everyday life. Those who come to her never leave disappointed; she repairs and perfects her students’ vocal instruments just as a trainer perfects every muscle in an athlete’s body.

Murphy has never had a student not get into one of the ivies of college music programs, including the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Julliard and New York University. Two of her students have been presidential scholars in the prestigious Young Arts Scholarship competition from the National Foundation for the Advancements of the Arts.

Murphy and her staff are very focused on what they do, organized and excited about their everyday work—all because they are so passionate about the art of voice and want nothing more than to instill that same passion in their students.

“I would recommend her to anyone who has a passion for singing,” said Carolyn Wahlheim, who began taking voice lessons from her last year. “She’s fun but serious at the same time. She’s really gotten to know me personally and is open to what I like to sing.”

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