Kevin McHugh is a pianist and composer from Seattle. He began working in improv theater professionally from age 15, when he joined Seattle’s Unexpected Productions as their main pianist for both Theatresports shows and long form productions. He continued improvised theater at Oberlin College and Conservatory, where he graduated magna cum laude with degrees in piano and German. Kevin lived in the Bay Area as a regular pianist for numerous improv groups including Bay Area Theatresports (BATS), Secret Improv Society and Big City Improv, as well as the Tony awarding winning San Francisco Mime Troupe.
Since 2009 Kevin has lived in Tokyo, working as a full-time jazz pianist, accompanist and MD for both Broadway and improv theater shows. He is the leader of the improvised collective “nariiki,” post rock quartet “nouon,” a founding member of the Japanese improv group Improlabo and Trio Impro, the Musical Director of the Tokyo Comedy Store and accompanist to many other groups throughout Japan.
Kevin has extensive improvised musical workshop teaching experience across many countries and festivals, including the US, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, and France. His passion is bridging the language and thinking of musicians and actors through theory, dialogue and good old fashioned singing experience.
He is currently writing a (non-improvised) musical, called “The Weirdest Kid I Know” to be debuted in November 2019.
Workshops are highly personal depending on group level and size, but here is sample of workshops I’ve taught in the past:
Are you a total beginner and lack confidence in your singing? Not sure where a verse ends and a chorus starts? Have some experience but want to refresh? Join my fundamentals workshop to get back to the basics! We cover everything from basic musical concepts, breathing, rhyming, feeling beats, how to hear an intro, simple song structures and more. Armed with some basic knowledge, by the end your confidence will be up and you'll want to sing about it!
Ever wonder how the blues came about? What the difference between an aria and a recitative is? Why is call and response important? In my styles workshop we'll not only learn the history behind certain musical styles, but break down real life examples to get to the essence of each. Stop faking it and gain real knowledge of a variety of rich musical traditions. So get the inside scoop on styles like Broadway musicals, salsa, blues, bossa nova, opera or request your own!
By popular demand, we gather any and all accompanists you have working with your group, and I give pointers and instruction ranging from vocal warmups to songs and scene accompaniment, while also candidly showing the actors what the musicians are thinking. Cross-cultural dialogue and good training for both sides of the stage!
Broadway Musical Song Forms
Learn more about I AM and I WANT songs, and all their many sub-genres! We look at real life Musical examples to dive further into characters, details and story to create (really) real Broadway songs. Group numbers, hero or villain songs, we’ll pull them apart and improvise them back together. Focus on techniques for solo, duo and group singing, harmonies, scene painting and more.
A continuation of fundamentals, we get deeper into song structures and work on bridges and polished endings, key changes, and a larger variety of rhyming styles. We'll also explore creating lush harmonies, contrapuntal singing and beyond. Take your group, duo and solo singing to the next level!
Does your group have something special they really want to drill? Just work on choruses for 3 hours? Develop harmonies and group songs? Up your sea chanty game? No problem, on request I'm happy to create a thorough and unique workshop to fit your musical needs.