Posts made in June, 2012

Music, when soft voices die

Posted by on Jun 19, 2012 | 1 comment

Music, when soft voices die
I’ve been listening to Simone Dinnerstein’s wonderful recording of some of Schubert’s Impromptus a great deal lately for they have the perfect combination of melancholy, longing and restrained passion to fit my turbulent mind and heart as I take care of my elderly mother.
Watching my mother slowly fade away is like being slowly tortured with a thousand tiny cuts, most not particularly painful at first until you look down and they seem to be everywhere. It is a cumulative pain, a dull ache that never quite leaves you.
I don’t understand any of it. I never imagined this scenario could happen to my once vibrant mother, once so full of life, so engaged in the world. Four years ago my greatest wish was for her to live when she was given a diagnosis of imminent death. And now…it still is, since although she is alive, she is not truly living. I long for the mother I used to know. I want to see that sparkle in her eyes again, the brilliant, loving gaze. The Impromptu No.3in Gb Major seems to be the soundtrack for all my powerful, conflicting emotions about this whole situation: the gentle but somewhat ominous rustling of the bass, the hauntingly hopeful repeated notes in the treble, the beautiful but dissonant high notes that seem to hang forever in the air before they resolve; fear, hope, loss, acceptance and overarching all of it, remembrance.
Amazing and wonderful the power music has- to heal, to inspire, to commiserate, to bolster, to bring catharsis.
Music and working on music helped me through the first shock of her illness four years ago. Watching the Ball State University students I was teaching at the time rehearse Into the Woods was incredibly cathartic. I hadn’t remembered the second act being so dark, so emotionally wrenching. But then again, maybe when I had first seen it at age 18, there was no reason for it to resonate so deeply with me as nothing truly serious had yet happened to me in my young life. Suddenly facing a life without my beloved mother, of being terrifyingly alone (I had not yet met my dearest Kenneth), Sondheim’s music and lyrics stunned me, tears flowing unbidden and unchecked as I sat in my seat in the dark, empty theatre, ostensibly taking notes on the singing. Night after night I sat in those rehearsals, experiencing loss, confusion, pain, and ultimately hope through his Cinderella, the Baker’s Wife, the Baker and the Witch. “No one is alone” destroyed me and put me back together again every time I heard it. Come to think of it, I saw the revival of Sunday in the Park with George during that same period, and “Move On” had me overwhelmed with emotion as well. I needed courage and hope for the future so badly and Mr. Sondheim provided them so elegantly in that song.
How much do I love that I started this post talking about Schubert and finished with Sondheim?!
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Find out who you are and do it on purpose. ~ Dolly Parton

Posted by on Jun 5, 2012 | 1 comment

Self-promotion has never been my strong suit; I actually tend towards the self-effacing. I will tell you readily all the terrible things people have said about me as a singer, but it is like pulling teeth for me to be forthcoming about the praise I have received. (Tsk tsk!) And as a classical musician, you are generally taught that your work will speak for itself. However, as I have learned inadvertently throughout my life and especially in the branding workshop I just completed, it doesn’t necessarily, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with telling the world about yourself and what you have to offer. In fact, it is essential that you do so. Greg Sandow’s branding workshop was brilliant and I learned so many valuable lessons from him and my fellow musicians, but the brightest blinking neon-sign message I took away from the experience is that all of us have something uniquely wonderful and valuable to offer this world and it is important that we get the word out about our unique contribution to the arts.
With that in mind, I would like to share two projects I have on tap for this summer that I am very excited about: I am teaching two series of Musical Theatre classes starting in a few weeks, one at Classic Tap DanceStudio and one at Keizer Academy of Music and Arts. All the particulars can be found on their respective websites. Students will learn to cultivate healthy vocal techniques to sing the wonderfully vast, diverse array of Musical Theatre repertoire, all the while developing a tool box of dynamic performing skills to make that repertoire come alive. It combines all my passions: teaching voice, coaching repertoire and creating exciting, interesting performances. Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching the technical part of the voice lesson- nothing gives me more pleasure than helping someone discover and develop their uniquely beautiful and expressive instrument. But I admit that I especially look forward to working on repertoire, delving into the musicality of the piece, exploring the character, the nuances of diction and vocal expression. And I particularly like teaching studio/performance/master classes (call them what you will) where I can help singers craft a complete performance from how they sound, to how they look, to how they make the audience feel. There is an energy in the room when we (the student, the pianist and myself) are creating a beautiful, compelling performance that is exhilarating. It is such fun to be a part of- it’s contagious!
So, if you know anyone over the age of 13 who would like to take one of these classes, please send them my way! The more, the merrier!
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