Student and Parent Testimonials

Wondering what it’s like to be involved with etc.’s student-centered, positive process-driven approach?

Take a look at what our students and community members are saying below!

“Today was awesome!”  That is the reaction of my daughter after any given etc rehearsal.   Etc is different from other theater and choir programs in that everyone gets a chance to shine, and each person’s uniqueness is celebrated.  If you are looking for a place for your child or teen to sing, act, and laugh (a lot!), where they can be part of a supportive and welcoming performing community, where they will grow in confidence and ability, and where they will have  a lot of fun, this is the place. – Sharon M., parent

The best part of learning from Mike is being able to contribute while learning something and having fun. – Carson K.

The experience Mike provides at etc. not only helps you grow individually as an artist, but provides you with a community of people who care about, love, and support you. Etc. so far has been a place where creativity sparks between young artists and it is a place where opinions and the people who have them are valued to the highest extent. It’s a music school, community, and family. – Hannah K.

Being a part of etc. music school means being a part of a family – everyone loves and supports each other tremendously. Students and their opinions are valued beyond compare, and everyone is a part of a wonderful community created by the students, for the students. – Eliza S.

While it is true that Mike provided musical direction for countless productions in which my daughter participated, and he directed her in more performances of the teen singing group than I can count, and he lead her in rehearsal after rehearsal after rehearsal for which she only wanted more, and he was absolutely responsible for her voice and musicality blossoming in private lessons with him, none of that really matters.
What matters is that he has been a mentor, an inspiration and a profoundly caring adult in my daughter’s life. He has been instrumental (pun fully intended) in her development as an outstanding young person. And he has done the same for so many others. – Billy Kaplan, father of Hannah

E.T.C. is a unique and wonderful community. The amount of talent, dedication, teamwork, and kindness within this group of people is both astounding and inspiring. The people in E.T.C. are perpetually willing to learn from each other and to welcome new members. We’re a family. – Caroline McC.

I leave every etc. rehearsal and private lesson with Mike looking forward to the next. Simple as that. We’re just pretty great. – Alice K.

Mike O’Mara is my phenomenal choir director, musical theatre director and private vocal coach, and he does his job fantastically. But anyone can be a good, even great, teacher and still not be a great person or friend. And Mr. Mike is all of the above. I’ve known him for two years now, starting when I was almost 16. I was really shy, and completely new to musical theatre and this music group. But straight off the bat, Mr. Mike stuck me with his presence and kindness, for he was so funny and very kind to me, coaxing me into a musical world where not only could I sing and act, but I could do these things well. He gave me a confidence with and a passion for performing and music I hadn’t had before. Now, I can’t stop singing, to the chagrin of my siblings.

But besides his teaching skills, he’s also been a great friend to me and my whole family. I’ve had some family difficulties these past few years, and I honestly believe that being with his group saved me and my little brother, who is also in Mr. Mike’s music school. My brother and I have had some bad days here and there because of our family situation, and Mr. Mike didn’t have to be told to notice. He would ask us how we were doing, give us hugs and let us know he would do everything he could for us. He’d make us laugh and he have us the environment and the means to express ourselves and escape from whatever kind of crappy day we were having. And he does this for his entire school. Even in the most ideal lifestyle, there are bad days, hard days, sad days. And for every single one of those days that any student of his experiences, Mr. Mike is there for that student. Regardless of how long he’s known them, regardless of how tired he is, he always has an open ear and a ready smile and reassuring words. He is one of the kindest, most inspirational and talented men I’ve met. He’s like the Dumbledore of music. And he had to work past so many of his own difficulties to get where he is, but that’s never stopped him. He’s a true testament to believing in what and who we love, to perseverance and dedication, and to a way of teaching that changes and saves lives. He sees potential in everyone, and gives them the tools and encouragement to recognize that potential in themselves. – Sylvana L.


I’m sure you’ve heard before that music changes countless lives for the better. It does. But my life wasn’t changed by hearing one song on the radio or having natural talent when I picked up a guitar for the first time. Music ended up changing my life through a person, and that person is Mike O’Mara.

In my freshman year of high school, my first English class assignment was to write about a moment that impacted my life strongly. For me, it was a day in October, standing beside Mike’s piano in his studio. I was your typical shy, anxious, very quiet girl who’d been taking lessons from Mike for maybe three months. I’d come to find that room with the comfy couch, baby grand piano, and pumpkin spice candles as the safest and happiest place I knew. The moment I chose was the moment Mike asked me to join his choir that is now the Etc. Choir, with his smile that always makes me want to work harder to this day. It was the first time in a very, very long time that someone had given me confidence in myself and my abilities.

Mike is more than just a choir director, and he is the best choir director in the world. Never have I ever seen a program like the Etc. Choir, where teenagers with all levels of experience can all come together in a circle around a piano, eat pizza, and make friendships as beautiful as the six-part harmonies Mike writes us. That, itself, is magical. But Mike is also one of the single most kind, generous, and dedicated people I have ever met in my fifteen years of life. You can ask him about how he plays piano without any feeling in his left hand, but he’ll tell you about what he continues to play for. I am sure he is the most passionate person on the planet.

Mike cares more for us “etc-er’s” then I can ever put into writing. Could you ever imagine coming to a teacher and telling them your struggles and anxieties, and your story? Not only have I done that, but around twenty of us did, and he listened better and more intently than anyone else could have, and put our stories anonymously into a musical and taught us not only musical theory and technique, but to respect each other and our experiences. He told a few of us just a week ago to make a list of moments to look back on that will always give us a fuzzy feeling. From that October day in his house to going to Disney world a month ago, Mike is there for ninety percent of my happiness, and he sparked all of it when he put his faith in me, and all of us. – Betsy B.


Mike O’Mara. The talented teacher, mentor, role model, director, artist, and friend.

I have been told that I was a talented singer, but I never believed what the people said. I was not a confident in myself, and because of that, I always got nervous while performing. At my first voice recital at etc Music School, I was extremely nervous and afraid. After hearing others perform breathtaking songs, it was my turn, so I walked up to the center of the room, with my heart beating extremely fast and a nervous look on my face. About to start Christina Perri’s A Thousand Years, I looked at Mike, nerves and all, and received a big smile back. He knew that I could do it, and he believed in me. The rest of the song was a breeze. After finishing, I went back to my chair and received compliments from people I didn’t even know. That smile was what I needed. That smile was what gave me my confidence.

Not only has Mike helped me to succeed, but everyone in etc one time or another has gotten help from him. Whether it be learning a new song, or a 1am call when you don’t know what to do. I have heard etc’ers say things like, “I don’t know where I would be without etc.” or “etc really changed my life”. One person told me that she didn’t know if she would still be here without etc. At the school, we are not just friends, but family. And Mike is the rock that keeps us all together.

You know how everyone has that one teacher that they will remember forever? Mike O’Mara is mine. – Ella D.


I’m not quite sure how I can sum up what an important, inspiring, and amazing teacher Mike is in just a couple thousand characters, but I think this should sum it up nicely.

I met Mike when I was ten years old, around the time that I started to struggle with anxiety, a constant problem that I have battled ever since. I can pretty much find a way to worry about anything, but Mike can always somehow make me feel better- even when I don’t want to see anyone, when I just want to curl up in bed, when I feel completely miserable, learning a new piece or spending some time at the piano or talking with Mike never ceases to make my day that much brighter.

One night about a year ago, I found myself overcome with anxiety around one in the morning, and when I told Mike, he gave me the best advice I have ever heard. He reminded me how much life changes, and how fast, and he told me that the point of life was to live and that I had so many wonderful things ahead of me. He said to me that one day I would look back on these memories in awe, and he was right.

To this day, Mike remains a positive force in my life that has taught me to turn pain into art, music into love, and classmates into family. Our school later turned mine and many other stories of adolescent struggles into an original musical, just one of the ways that Mike and his school have brought us together and made us better singers and better people, and I will always be grateful for the advice he gave me and for everything he has done for his students since.

Mike shows care and dedication to his art and his students beyond anyone I have ever known, and whether it’s a late-night conversation, an amazing rehearsal, or an inspiring performance, he never stops giving us opportunities to learn, grow, and thrive. He is a director, a mentor, an honorary member of countless families, and a friend- and to top it all off, he is the best teacher I’ve ever had. I will never stop being grateful to him. – Caroline G.


Have something of your own to share about learning from director Mike or the etc. experience? We want to know! E-mail us at!