I just realized that 25 (!) years ago this month, I started graduate school at the University of Washington in Seattle. I went to get my master’s degree in vocal performance right after college because what did I know at 21? Exactly nothing. Ok, not nothing, but I certainly wasn’t ready to enter the real world, and since I excelled in an academic environment, it seemed like a good next step. And was it ever! I got to work with and learn from world-class musicians and singers, met two of my most influential mentors and made some dear friends that endure to this day.
I have such fond memories of my grad school life. First off, the physical environment of Seattle was a literal breath of fresh air from Southern California where I had gone to undergrad. I remember my first day of school at UW, walking through the mist in the crisp fall temperatures, with all the beautiful trees and old brick buildings, the smell of rain and evergreens; bliss to my parched soul after the irrigated desert of UCIrvine.
And then there was the school and work itself: my days were filled with all things musical; four fabulous years of learning, singing, performing and making music. Yes, four years, because after the two seemingly short years of my Master’s degree, I still did not feel ready to be ripped from the warm bosom of academia, so I stayed for my doctorate. I had an extraordinary, supportive voice teacher, I was performing all the time, I had friends, and an apartment with a view of downtown Seattle. Why leave?
I know all these many years later, I have cast that time in the rosy glow of hindsight, but it truly was a halcyon time for me. I spent my days doing three of my favorite things: singing, performing and learning. I had two professors whose teaching and mentoring made me feel like I could do anything I set my mind to: my voice teacher, the inimitable Julian Patrick, who besides teaching me a vocal technique I could actually understand and implement, nourished my passion for the art of singing, and my advisor and opera director Theodore Deacon, who not only unlocked facets of my acting ability I didn’t know I was capable of, also taught me the invaluable skill of how to learn. With them, the other professors, and my fellow students, I felt a belonging that I have not often felt.
When it came time to move on to my next adventure (NYC!), I was ready to go, but those four years on that beautiful campus will always be special to me. I am so thankful to all those brilliant musicians, teachers and colleagues, who let me commune with them for a brief time.