“Having been seated at Julia Bentley's studio piano and followed her students’ progress for four years, my perspective is unique. I can think of no one who has observed her teaching more than myself, and I have seen an invariably devoted educator, continually refining her scholarship and art for the benefit of her students.

At DePaul University, the creative environment Prof. Bentley sparked invigorated the School of Music and reimagined its possibilities. Her innumerable, dedicated contributions set new standards, bridged the gap between the instrumental and vocal programs, and engaged both students and faculty in music they may have otherwise never known. No ordinary teacher can prepare a student to perform a Webern set, let alone, lead an entire voice program to pull off Pierrot lunaire.

As her studio pianist, I always expected something compellingly different, cerebral, and emotionally engaging from lessons. It was an invaluable opportunity to build a foundation in standard repertoire, and also learn literature that sets my experience apart from other collaborative pianists. During those four years, I grew more as a performer than throughout my entire master's program, and consider it exactly the post-graduate education I required.

Prof. Bentley’s consummate scholarship and widespread expertise are evidenced by a rare ability to span musical borders. Demand for her diverse insights frequently leads her to lecture in composition forums, coach chamber ensembles, and even perform as a collaborative pianist. She is a versatile, boldly individual artist, and under her instruction, students realize the scope of their own artistry.

Graduates of the Bentley Studio are equipped for performing careers with uncommonly strong musicianship, and are expertly prepared to manage the demands of professional singing. I have witnessed countless successes under Julia Bentley’s guidance, and seen nothing short of excellence in every single lesson.”

Michael McElvain
conductor | pianist | coach Collaborative Pianist for the students of Julia Bentley

I have worked with vocalist and teacher Julia Bentley for over fifteen years.  She has consistently been passionate, prepared, preternaturally professional, collegial and superbly musical.  Her questions have always indicated a high degree of preparation and musical thoughtfulness, and her willingness to be flexible has been remarkable.  As a role model for younger singers, I have found her to be impeccable and know that many student musicians have used her standards and mine as a model and inspiration for their own.

I unequivocally recommend her to you.


Cliff Colnot
Principal conductor of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago,
the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's MusicNOW ensemble
and the University of Chicago's CONTEMPO.ensemble.

Dear Prospective Students,

Our son, Albie, has studied with Julia Bentley since he was a nine year old boy soprano. Julia has been the most wonderful gift as a teacher. With an insightful and energetic approach to teaching voice technique, she has helped Albie develop his musical identity by inspiring and guiding him within and beyond the lessons. She has motivated Albie as a performer, and she has provided him with the vocal acumen to support his growing ability to make and perform beautiful music. Julia is a true musician with a deep artistic understanding of all music genres, from early music to romantic and contemporary, as well as musical theater. Julia’s many performances across genres and venues in Chicago and throughout the world inspire her students. Albie consciously benefits in his musical education and in the development of his performance goals by seeing Julia perform different works, from late romantic opera and song cycles, to 20th century ensemble pieces, to premieres of new works.

Julia has also always been an advocate for Albie’s performance opportunities and has spent her personal time and energy helping him in this regard. She has emphasized the development of a portfolio of works and is a valuable coach of musical selection for auditions and recitals. In addition to her mastery of all things musical and vocal, Julia is wonderful person to know. It is not possible to express the gratitude we feel to Julia for the gifts she has given our son in life and in music.

Gabriel Smith & Emily Chang

"I just learned more about singing than I had ever learned before."

conductor Michael Lewanski, after a blitz lecture on the
vocal mechanism to instrumentalists in Ensemble 20+

To whom it may concern:

It is with great pleasure that I introduce my erstwhile colleague and friend, the accomplished mezzo-soprano, Julia Bentley. I am in awe and full of admiration for her singular talents not only as a voice teacher, but as a collaborative and willing team member.

Her voice students reflect her sound vocal technical and pedagogical philosophy, especially those who were very vocally challenged when they first arrived. Her tenacity and patience in dealing with students with severe vocal impediments is exemplary and their continued improvement, a reflection of her infinite care and guidance over the course of their study. Her ability to express herself in wonderful idiomatic and imaginative language that helps the student understand and achieve what they are seeking to project in a piece of music is truly inspirational.

Julia maintains an active performing career, not just as a soloist but as a member of many collaborative ensembles in the Chicago area.Her superb musicianship and rock solid vocal technique allow her to encompass such a vast range of repertoire. It also is testament to her curious and inquisitive mind that she is able to accommodate and relish so much diversity and is always seeking out new challenges. She is an enthusiastic member of NATS and always attends their conventions in order to support, learn and explore new thoughts and ideas on voice teaching and pedagogy and keep up to date with the most current information available.

Elizabeth Byrne
Adjunct Professor of Voice, De Paul University
School of Music

To whom it may concern:
August 10, 2014

The relationship one has to his/her voice teacher is such an important one, if not the most important one, for a singer’s growth. As a very inexperienced young singer, I came to Professor Bentley five years ago and have been grateful since day one. I arrived with a big passion but little musicianship or technique. Aware of this, she started helping me refine my knowledge. Every single lesson was a new wealth of knowledge and though I was often pushed right up to my limit, I was never pushed past it and always so respected.

From early on, Professor Bentley gave me many opportunities. She began by steering me towards goals and objectives I never thought I could achieve, and helped me do so. At the end of my freshman year, she took me to June in Buffalo to perform alongside her in Bernard Rand’s Now Again. I can assure you that this was an unheard of thing in my class or the classes above me but Professor Bentley took the risk and I learned so much from it.

Her technique is of the healthiest kind. If ever I don’t understand, Professor Bentley will ALWAYS explain, with no frustration but in a different way. I’ve seen her work with others and it is very clear that her lessons are not cookie cutter. She adapts her teaching style to every student and their needs. This is, I believe, essential. She is very good at reading students from day one and getting a feel for how they best learn.

Professor Bentley has been a constant source of knowledge. Never have I seen any other vocalist or voice teacher be so well rounded on all the facets of music and musicians. She has the deepest understanding of theory, history and performance. With her piano education and a very rich musical background, she has been a mentor for me. I have seen faculty members from all departments seek her knowledge and every student, vocal or instrumental comes away from her with handy tools in their pockets. I have never had a question from her unanswered. If (I can count these instance on one hand) she wasn’t sure of a response, she would always go through the necessary lengths to find it.

Which brings me to Professor Bentley as a guide and human. In our five years together, there have been many, many instances where personal or school related issues have bogged me down and she has never failed to be completely supportive. She has always been there for me, comforting me in defeat, encouraging me through obstacles and celebrating success. 

Professor Bentley is the single person who has taught me the most through my undergraduate degree and these years after. From her I learn vocal technique, performance techniques, audition techniques, musicianship, professional behavior and etiquette for working in any setting (i.e. orchestra, opera stage, chamber, etc.) among many other things. Her passion for her students is encouraging and beautiful. I very much dread the day when I move and can no longer study with her as often. She is an admiration to me and I strive to be as well rounded and respected a vocalist as she.

Giovanna Jacques

Julia Bentley is a consummate professional, and in my estimation, the embodiment of a thinking musician. She has an innate ability to move listeners through music and text in the most efficient and impactful way by combining a methodical approach to the physiology of singing with her truly remarkable musicianship. Working with her and experiencing her teaching has been a highlight of my time at DePaul to date.

Jason Moy
Baroque Ensemble, Harpsichord and Keyboard Coordinator, DePaul University School of Music

private studio | teaching philosophy | university teaching | composer focus