Practitioner-in-Residence Typhanie Monique Coller on the Beauty of Imperfection

Photo of Typhanie Monique Coller singing in concert. Photo by Michael Jackson.Typhanie Monique Coller is known professionally as Typhanie Monique. Photo by Michael Jackson.
Typhanie Monique Coller knows firsthand how passion and drive can take projects from humble beginnings to the world stage.

“The beauty of imperfection makes amazing art,” says jazz artist, Coordinator of Vocal Studies, and Practitioner-in-Residence at Columbia College Chicago Typhanie Monique Coller, known professionally as Typhanie Monique. “And improvisation will always lead you to the next idea.” In her teaching, Monique emphasizes the importance of teaching students to celebrate the upsides of imperfection and the critical importance of collaboration in creative expression. “Music is a language that requires collaboration and a sensitivity to listen to one another,” she says. “The spiritual essence of jazz far exceeds the fundamental defining principles. Jazz ignites and encourages the freedom of personal expression through improvisation.” The result: fresh, unexpected music that speaks to the soul.

That Monique embodies this outlook is perhaps unsurprising. She recalls her early years where, she says, “Music permeated through the walls of my household. My parent’s versatile record collection introduced me to disco, Caribbean folk songs, singer-songwriters, Motown legends, and classic country.” Then, at the age of 9, Monique saw Tina Turner opening for Lionel Richie’s “Can’t Slow Down” tour. The experience proved to be formative. “The freedom to fully express oneself on stage through song and dance, the feeling of shared energy and emotion from artist to audience, I wanted to experience it myself,” Monique says.

Later, after Monique’s high school music instructor introduced her to Jazz, she found herself on a new musical path. “I was immediately drawn to the lush harmony, emotional phrasing, and this idea of improvisation,” Monique says. Today, she recalls with clarity the excitement and freedom she felt while exploring the genre. “I was so excited the first time I attempted to scat,” she says. “It was incredibly liberating.” Jazz proved to be the perfect genre for an artist with a passion for unrestrained expression and emotional connections with an audience.

As she evolved as an artist, Monique also found that she had a passion for teaching. “I revel in witnessing someone gain the confidence and understanding of their ability to then take a risk and improvise.” Monique says. As someone who always appreciated the campus environment and classroom setting, Monique found that working as a vocal instructor also fostered her interests in collaboration, community, and connection.

As a Coordinator of Vocal Studies at Columbia, Monique is also dedicated to creating a multitude of opportunities for student success within a cohesive learning experience. “Curricula in the Music Department are designed with a pathway of successive courses to advance technique, and encourage students to explore a multitude of contemporary commercial music styles by applying their knowledge and practice in performance opportunities,” Monique says. For students studying vocal performance specifically, the Department supports the development of technique, melody and lyric interpretation, and the advancement of musicianship. Students are also supported through private instruction and ensemble experiences. All instruction culminates in final performances. Monique has left her mark on Columbia’s curricular choices: She is responsible for the popular World Music Friday Forum, which, as she says, “exposes students to voices and artists from around the world,” and is at the helm of Columbia’s new Vocal Performance Minor, which will be launched in Fall 2022 and which is, as Monique says, “designed to give Musical Theatre and Music Business students an opportunity to focus their study in vocal performance.”

Monique continues to remain invested in evolving her professional career as well. She has received international acclaim for her work on Intrinsic (2004), In This Room (2007), Yuletide Groove (2009) and Call It Magic (2017). Currently, Monique is also completing her certification as a Vocologist at the University of Utah’s National Center for Voice and Speech, in which she is working with Dr. Ingo Titze and specializing in voice science and rehabilitation. She is also writing material for her newest recording project and has recorded a new house single reimagining Tevin Campbell’s “Can We Talk.”

Finally, Monique is excited to announce her new concert series, titled In the Moment. “The series provides a sensory experience based on improvisatory genres and original spontaneous compositions,” Monique says. The series will be held at the Epiphany Center for the Arts at 201 S. Ashland Ave in Chicago beginning April 28th, 2022.

 For students interested in following in Monique’s footsteps, she has some advice: “Stop doubting yourself and volunteer to ‘go first,’” she says. “This business of music takes passion, persistence, and perseverance. Don’t give up--there is always another path to follow.”