Q.What is your typical process for working with a new student?
Before I begin working with a new student, we meet to discuss the student's goals - whether it's to sing professionally or to sing just for the fun of it. We go through a few breathing exercises and some light scales to get a diagnostic sense of how best to focus our work together. If the student has recorded material, or wants to bring their instrument and sing a little, we do that as well. After our initial consultation, we tailor the workshop to suit the student's individual assets, challenges and goals.
Q. What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
I have a degree in the performing arts and studied voice independently with top coaches in New York and LA for many years. My teachers remarked at how diligently I practiced, which surprised me. Because I had so much love and excitement about singing, it was natural and I think I knew intuitively that I would get out of it what I put into it. I share that with my own students now. We can meet once a week and I can construct a solid program to move a student forward, but the miracles, large and small, are collaborative, and a student's own commitment to practice is an essential ingredient.
Q.How did you get started doing this?
I started singing in choir when I was a little girl and would run all the way to practice, I was so excited to be a part of it. In my teen years I got very shy about singing. I was encouraged to study acting and, after high school, enrolled full time at the Academy. It had a very rigorous and thorough program in all aspects of performing. Vocal coaching was a required part of the curriculum. My vocal coach gently drew me out, taught me basic technique, encouraged me to perform. It was there that I was first told that singing was something I should pursue professionally. I earned my degree and graduated from the Academy. I moved into music, rather than acting, never looking back, though that foundation in an actor’s study, in interpretation and in performance was invaluable.
Singing had been my secret dream and, for many years, I woke up every morning excited to start a day so filled with promise. As a young artist, I saw and loved that creative spark in others around me. It was natural to me to see and nurture that in them as well. I met two other young women and we formed a group together. We sang a Capella in the streets of New York, then formed a band and moved to the clubs. We learned and blossomed together through mutual creative explorative and support of each other. In the lessons that I teach, I guide gently, correct gently, ferret out and underscore a student's strengths and assets as well. My own creative process only blossomed in safe environments and I give that to my students. To me, that's essential.
Q. What types of students have you worked with?
I've worked with just-beginning singers, with musicians who wanted to add singing to their skill set and creative offering, with singers who wanted to explore songwriting, with singer songwriters who wanted to explore recording. Every one of these processes is creative, fun, inspiring and rewarding. Sharing what I've learned, having the privilege of guiding someone through their own creative journey, is deeply satisfying.
Q. Describe a recent student project you are fond of. How long did it take?
One of my favorite projects was a young student whose year end theses in her school program was to write and record her own CD of contemporary songs that she'd be writing in her native language. She played violin but hadn't sung or written before. The workshop was semester length and covered singing lessons, songwriting lessons and recording technique. Our last few sessions were in the recording studio. Her CD was wonderful! and her final grade at her school was excellent. It was a pleasure to work with her, a lot of fun and very inspiring.
Q. What advice would you give a student looking for an instructor in your area of focus?
As much as you can, before you begin your search for a teacher, get clear with yourself about what you want from it. Think about creating a goal for yourself. Try not to make it one that feels like pressure, but rather one that makes you feel excited and inspired. You'll learn better and the work will come more naturally when you're coming from a positive place of excitement and anticipation about your creative exploration and growth.
Q. What questions should students think through before talking to instructors about their study?
Think through what it is that inspires you, the kind of people you like to be around, what motivates you, what your temperament is, what temperament in others helps you feel comfortable and feel safe enough to be open. Learning singing can require a willingness to be vulnerable. I needed someone I could trust to demystify the process and to gently guide me. It was important that I could feel free enough to make mistakes, even to sound silly sometimes.
Think also about what style of music you lean toward. While vocal technique can be taught from very divergent music styles, aesthetic and stylistic sensibilities can be very different. Most if all, you want to find someone who will be responsible with your vocal instrument, sensitive to the creative spirit in you and easy for you to connect and communicate with.
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