Modern Conducting Academy offers online private lessons in conducting and score study. Private lessons is ideal for getting real-time, in-depth suggestions on how to improve your gesture, making it more impactful to the ensemble. Consider adding private lessons a part of your yearly Professional Development.


(in alphabetical order)

Dr. Jerry Blackstone

Professor Emeritus of Music

University of Michigan

About Jerry Blackstone

GRAMMY Award winner Jerry Blackstone is a leading conductor and highly respected conducting pedagogue.  Now emeritus professor of conducting, he served on the faculty of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance for thirty years where as director of choirs he led the graduate program in choral conducting and oversaw the University’s eleven choirs.   In February 2006, he received two GRAMMY Awards (“Best Choral Performance” and “Best Classical Album”) as chorusmaster for the critically acclaimed Naxos recording of William Bolcom’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience. The Naxos recording of Milhaud’s monumental L’Orestie d’Eschyle, on which Blackstone served as chorusmaster, was nominated for a 2015 GRAMMY Award (“Best Opera Recording”). Opera Magazine reviewer Tim Ashley wrote: “the real stars, though, are the University of Michigan’s multiple Choirs, who are faced with what must be some of the most taxing choral writing in the entire operatic repertory. Their singing has tremendous authority and beauty, while the shouts and screams of Choéphores are unnerving in the extreme. Their diction is good too: the occasions when we don’t hear the words are Milhaud’s responsibility, rather than theirs. It’s an extraordinary achievement, and utterly mesmerizing.”

The University of Michigan Chamber Choir, conducted by Blackstone, performed by special invitation at the inaugural conference in San Antonio of the National Collegiate Choral Organization (NCCO) and presented three enthusiastically received performances in New York City at the National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA).  As conductor of the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club from 1988-2002, Professor Blackstone led the ensemble in performances at ACDA national and division conventions and on extensive concert tours throughout Australia, Eastern and Central Europe, Asia, South America, and the United States.

In 2017, NCCO presented him with its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Membership Award and, in 2006, for “significant contributions to choral music,” he received the ACDA-Michigan chapter’s Maynard Klein Lifetime Achievement AwardFrom 2003-2015, Dr. Blackstone served as conductor and music director of the University Musical Society (UMS) Choral Union, a large community/university chorus that frequently appears with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) and the Ann Arbor Symphony and presents yearly performances of Handel’s Messiah and other major works for chorus and orchestra. Choirs prepared by Blackstone have appeared under the batons of Valery Gergiev, Neeme Järvi, Leonard Slatkin, Hans Graf, Michael Tilson Thomas, John Adams, Helmuth Rilling, James Conlon, Nicholas McGegan, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Peter Oundjian, and Yitzak Perlman.

Professor Blackstone is considered one of the country’s leading conducting teachers, and his students have been first place award winners and finalists in both the graduate and undergraduate divisions of ACDA’s biennial National Choral Conducting competition.  His 2016 rehearsal techniques DVD, Did You Hear That? (GIA Publications) deals with the conductor’s decision-making process during rehearsal.  Santa Barbara Music Publishing distributes Blackstone’s acclaimed educational DVD, Working with Male Voices and also publishes the Jerry Blackstone Choral Series.

Blackstone is an active guest conductor and workshop presenter and has appeared in forty-two states as well as New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Sicily. In the summer, he leads the Adult Choir Camp and the Choral Conducting Institute at the Interlochen Center for the Arts.

Prior to coming to the University of Michigan in 1988, Dr. Blackstone served on the music faculties of Phillips University in Oklahoma, Westmont College in California, and Huntington University in Indiana.


Donald Brinegar

California State University, Los Angeles

Director of Choruses, Pasadena Symphony

About Donald Brinegar

Donald Brinegar is a conductor, tenor soloist, voice instructor, educator and master class clinician. Professor Emeritus of Music at Pasadena City College, Brinegar directed the Choral Studies program at PCC for 36 years. Brinegar also conducts the Donald Brinegar Singers, a community choral ensemble in Pasadena, California, Director of Choruses for the Pasadena Symphony and POPS, and adjunct professor of voice at PCC. During the summers he is an adjunct professor of conducting and voice in the Cal State Los Angeles masters program in Choral conducting. Brinegar has published five book on Choral Music. His book “Pitch Perfect: A Theory and Practice of Choral Intonation” was released in December 2019 and has already been hailed as a singular contribution in the field of Choral Music. “Conducting Primer: Seven Principles of Choral Conducting” was published in May of 2020 and “Conducting Primer in Practice” was published in June 2020. Both books have received international critical acclaim.

He has an extensive background as a performer both as a soloist and a conductor having performed throughout the United States, Japan, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and Canada. Brinegar has performed as a featured soloist with Robert Shaw, Helmuth Rilling, Roger Wagner, Gerard Swartz, Murray Sidlin, Howard Swan, Charles Hirt, Rod Eichenberger, William Hall, Marvin Hamlisch, Michael Feinstein, and with numerous music festivals, orchestras and opera associations. He has collaborated artistically with Henry Mancini, Barry Manilow, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, John Delancie, and the Chieftains. His choirs have given five performances for the American Choral Directors Association Conferences, California Music Educators (MENC), Choral Conductors Guild, and have twice performed in Carnegie Hall, the Los Angeles Music Center, and the Hollywood Bowl.

Don holds degrees in music education and choral music from the University of Southern California where in 1985 he was named the Outstanding Graduate Student in the School of Music. He was named the Outstanding Teacher for Claremont Unified Schools in 1979 and has been twice nominated as the Outstanding Teacher at Pasadena City College. This past fall Brinegar was recognized by the Pasadena Symphony as their Artist of the Year. He has served as President and Treasurer for the Southern California Vocal Association, Treasurer for the Western Division of the American Choral Directors Association, President of the Music Association of California Community Colleges, and Past-President of the Pasadena Sunrise Rotary Club.

Dr. Janet Galvan

Professor Emeritus of Music

University of Michigan

About Janet Galvan

Dr. Janet Galvan, Director of Choral Activities at Ithaca College, conducts the Ithaca College Choir and Women's Chorale. Her New York colleagues recognized Dr. Galvan's contribution to choral music in 1995 when she received the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) New York Outstanding Choral Director Award. Dr. Galvan was awarded the Ithaca College Faculty Excellence Award for teaching, scholarship, and service in the spring of 2018. 

Sought after as a guest conductor of choral and orchestral ensembles, she has conducted professional and university orchestras including Virtuosi Pragenses, the Madrid Chamber Orchestra, and the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, in choral/orchestral performances. She has conducted national, divisional, and state choruses throughout the United States for the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), National Association for Music Educators (NAfME), Organization of American Kodàly Educators (OAKE), and has conducted ensembles of all ages, from adult professional choirs to children's choirs. She has conducted choruses and orchestras in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Boston's Symphony Hall, Washington's Constitution Hall, Minneapolis' Symphony Hall, Pittsburgh's Heinz Hall, and Nashville's Schermerhorn Symphony Center. She has conducted her own choral ensembles in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, and Avery Fisher Hall as well as in concert halls in Ireland, Italy, the Czech Republic, Austria, Canada, and Spain. Her own choral ensembles have performed in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall as well as in concert halls throughout Europe and Ireland. Galvan was the sixth national honor choir conductor for ACDA, and was the conductor of the North American Children's Choir which performed annually in Carnegie Hall. She was also a guest conductor for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. 

Galvan has been a guest conductor and clinician in in the United Kingdom, Ireland, throughout Europe, Canada and in Brazil as well as at national music conferences and the World Symposium on Choral Music. She was on the faculty for the Carnegie Hall Choral Institute, the Transient Glory Symposium and the Oberlin Conducting Institute. 

Galvan was a member of the Grammy Award-winning Robert Shaw Festival Singers. 

Galvan has been recognized as one of the country's leading conducting teachers, and her students have received first place awards and have been finalists in both the graduate and undergraduate divisions of the American Choral Directors biennial National Choral Conducting Competition. Her students can be found conducting professional ensembles, teaching at the university level, teaching in public schools, conducting children's choruses, and conducting on Broadway. In addition, she has been an artist in residence at many universities, leading master classes, working with the university choirs, and presenting sessions.

Dr. Joshua Habermann

Santa Fe Desert Chorale

About Joshua Habermann

2011 marked Joshua Habermann’s first year as chorus director of the Dallas Symphony Chorus, the official vocal ensemble of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Habermann is also music director of The Desert Chorale, a professional chamber choir based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Prior to his DSO appointment, Habermann was assistant conductor of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, where he prepared the chorus for performances with conductors Michael Tilson Thomas and Charles Dutoit. Recordings as a singer with the SFSC include Christmas by the Bay and Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, a Grammy nominee for Best Choral/Orchestra Recording. 

Habermann has appeared at numerous conferences and festivals, including international engagements in Brazil, Cuba, Costa Rica, Germany, Czech Republic, France, China, and Singapore. As a singer (tenor), he has performed with the Oregon Bach Festival Chorus under Helmuth Rilling, and made three recordings with Austin-based Conspirare: Through the Green Fuse, Threshold of Night, and Requiem, a Grammy nominee and Edison Music Award winner for Best Choral Recording. Recent conducting projects include Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Haydn’s The Creation, Mozart’s Requiem, Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, J.S. Bach’s B Minor Mass, Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil and a collaboration with mezzo-soprano Susan Graham in Aaron Copland’s rarely-performed masterwork, In the Beginning. 

A passionate advocate for music education, Habermann has served on the faculties at San Francisco State University and the University of Miami, and worked with young singers and conductors in master classes and workshops throughout the United States and abroad. He is currently an adjunct faculty member at the University of North Texas, where he teaches conducting and choral literature. A native of California, Habermann is a graduate of Georgetown University and the University of Texas at Austin, where he completed doctoral studies in conducting with Craig Hella Johnson. He lives in Dallas with his wife Joanna and daughter Kira.   

Christopher James Lees

Charlotte Symphony Orchestra

About Christopher James Lees

Emerging American conductor Christopher James Lees brings passionate and nuanced orchestral performances to the stage, a fierce commitment to contemporary music, and a natural charisma to audiences all around the world. In 2018, Mr. Lees began an appointment as Resident Conductor of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and Principal Conductor of the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra. In addition to the more than 50 annual concert appearances with the CSO, he has stepped in to conduct Subscription Classical performances on four occasions, including a gala weekend with Grammy Award winning artist Branford Marsalis in May 2021. 

An active guest conductor, Mr. Lees has returned for performances with the Los Angeles and Rochester Philharmonics, the Houston, Detroit, Milwaukee, North Carolina, Portland, and Flint Symphonies, and conducted debuts with the Indianapolis, Kansas City, Toledo, and Vermont Symphonies. Additional engagements have taken him to the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Orchestra de Chambre de Paris, Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, and at the Music in the Mountains Festival & Festival Internacional de Inverno de Campos do Jordão in Brazil. Only the second American Gustavo Dudamel Conducting Fellow with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Mr. Lees made his debut with the orchestra in April 2013 and returned for concerts in February 2015. With the New York Philharmonic, St. Louis & Atlanta Symphonies, among others, Mr. Lees has served as a assistant conductor for the world’s leading conductors, including: Gustavo Dudamel, Paavo Järvi, Herbert Blomstedt, Leonard Slatkin, David Robertson, Robert Spano, Marin Alsop, Pablo Heras-Casado, Stéphane Danève, Susanna Mälkki, and Nicholas McGegan. 

After two summers of study with Robert Spano at the Aspen Music Festival, Mr. Lees was named winner of both the 2011 James Conlon Conducting Prize and the 2012 Aspen Conducting Prizes, respectively. In 2013, Mr. Lees returned for a third summer as assistant conductor for the Aspen Music Festival and School. An active pianist, and equally comfortable in the opera pit, Mr. Lees has served as Music Director or Assistant Conductor for a wide array of operas: Aida (Atlanta Symphony), Peter Grimes & John Harbison's The Great Gatsby (Aspen Opera Theatre Center), Louis Andriessen's De Materie, and Philip Glass' the CIVIL warS (Los Angeles Philharmonic), Don Giovanni & Mark Adamo's Little Women, (University of Michigan Opera Theatre), and Nino Rota’s Il Capello di paglia di Firenze (AJ Fletcher Opera Institute). A recipient of a Career Assistance Grant from the Solti Foundation US, Mr. Lees was also chosen for showcase on the Bruno Walter Memorial Foundation National Conductor Preview, hosted by the League of American Orchestras and Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. 

A dedicated advocate for music of our time, Mr. Lees has premiered more than one hundred fifty new works by a diverse range of composers, and collaborated closely with Pulitzer Prize winners John Adams, William Bolcom, John Corigliano, Jennifer Higdon, Joseph Schwantner, Steven Stucky, Caroline Shaw, Roger Reynolds, and Julia Wolfe. An equally passionate advocate for music education, Mr. Lees has brought inspirational energy to student orchestras across the country, from the Colburn School to the New England Conservatory, and previously served on the faculties of the University of Michigan and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. 

A native of Washington, D.C., Mr. Lees holds bachelors and master's degrees from the University of Michigan, and has studied conducting with Larry Rachleff and Robert Spano, as well as having participated in masterclasses with Lorin Maazel, Michael Tilson Thomas, Gustav Meier, and Jorma Panula. When not performing, Mr. Lees can be found building Lego sets with his six year old son, Rowan, reading through a stack of books on his nightstand, and training outdoors for his next 10K race.

Dr. Jaclyn Normandie

Modern Conducting Acadmey, Founder 

About Jaclyn Normandie

Dr. Jaclyn Normandie (formerly Jaclyn Johnson) is a professional conductor and founder of the Modern Conducting Academy, an online learning platform that gives access to people seeking to expand their musicianship by offering live workshops with some of the most sought-after conducting professionals. Her study of yoga, meditation, and eastern philosophy led her to author The Mindful Musician: Finding a Healthy Balance, offering strategies in balance and stress management to performers.


Dr. Normandie's research includes mindfulness in the music classroom, Latin American folk music, and teaching the adult male voice. She currently resides in Costa Rica studying Pachamama Earth Music and leads community ensembles for youth and adults. Her mission is to use ceremonial folk music to build a bridge between the different ethnicities and socioeconomic groups in the small jungle beach town of Nosara. Her private voice instruction focuses on the energetic and emotional principles of vocal development, awareness of the chakra system, Reiki healing, and unlocking the fullest potential of one’s communication.


After earning her doctorate at the University of Michigan with Dr. Jerry Blackstone, she taught at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Oakland University. Ensembles under her direction, including Murrieta Valley High School, have performed around the globe and at American Choral Directors Association National, Western, and Central Division conferences. 


She has presented lectures at over twenty conferences, as well as guest conducting at the regional and state level. Her deep appreciation of movement biomechanics is rooted in her multidiscipline background of conducting, dance, martial arts, and yoga; and her studies have taken her to such locations as China, India, and Brazil.