My Education, Accolades, and Experience
Both of my degrees are in music! I received my Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music. While attending, I earned several scholarships, was heavily involved in the Opera department, and was also quite active in the theater department. Two of my most vivid and cherished memories there include Assistant Directing a beautiful early opera by Monteverdi, L'Incoronazione Di Poppea, as well as directing a comedic play called Wanda’s Visit by Christopher Durang. From CU Boulder, I completed my Master’s degree in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy, which is the study of the Art and Science behind all things Voice. While at CU I became more interested in Classical song works, the highlight for me was performing an exquisite song cycle by Gabriel Fauré entitled La Bonne Chanson and learning several Opera roles of Mozart including Guglielmo from Cosi Fan Tutte and studying all 3 of the Bass/Baritone roles in Le Nozze di Figaro. I also taught voice for CU’s Continuing Ed program and have been teaching at the Lesson Studio since 2009.
My Approach to Teaching
While every student is a truly unique being, we all need to work our technique and choose music that is satisfying, suits us, keeps us engaged and in the end, helps our growth as musicians.
- Technique: The breath is about 90% of a good vocal technique! If you ever take a voice lesson with me you will probably get sick of me asking, “How’s the breath."
- Repertoire (the songs!). Ultimately, we need to work on music that we like and truly feel suits us. It is also true though that at times pieces we don’t love or feel a strong connection to can benefit our overall technique and understanding. The entire Canon of music is dauntingly vast, so usually finding a compromise is best and there is so much to choose from.
Two of My Practice Techniques
While shorter and consistent practice techniques are the best overall, sometimes it isn’t possible. Two things that helped me, especially in Grad school:
- Mind/Mental(Silent) practice. Exactly as it sounds. We are wiring the brain in a different way when we practice silently and saving your voice at the same time (or whatever instrument you are focused on). Think about your technique, map the breath into the body and sound. Go through your music mentally! This is also a great way to practice if you are sick, or your voice is affected in some way.
- If you record your lessons (Record your lessons!) it can be very challenging over time to keep up with listening to each lesson. Find about one day a month and listen to a few of them. Try out some of the techniques you are hearing again. You will hear and experience things differently and this can also be a powerful tool in building your musicianship.
My Favorite Quotes
Here are two that I currently resonate with:
“There is nothing outside of us. It's all in us.” -Yogi Bhajan
“There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: Music and Cats.” -Albert Schweitzer
How I Started Playing Music
My first memories of Singing are like a very old and faded film: I was 3 years old and singing for my extended family, which is a lot of people! My Mom has 10 brothers and sisters and my dad has 4 siblings, I am not even sure how many cousins I have. Though I was extremely young, I recall all these smiling faces around me as I was sitting (dancing?) on the table singing at the top of my tiny lungs. I don’t remember what the song was but it was probably Country, 60’s Pop or 70’s Folk because that’s what my family listened to and that’s what was probably all over the jukebox. Dolly Parton was my favorite when I was 3.