My Goal: To give you the tools to have a Solid Vocal Technique.
My philosophy: First, singing is simple… but not easy! Second, I believe there are only two things a singer can control: first and foremost is breath. The other is the space in which the physics of sound occurs.
My method of teaching is that of Bel Canto.
Crafting a solid vocal foundation involves letting go of a lot of your old Attitudes, Habits and Beliefs.
Successful development of your voice requires patience, perseverance and accountability from both the singer and the teacher: Together we can build a strong technical foundation on which to anchor your singing career.
During my many years as a professional singer, I built my current philosophy about vocal technique by using both what I learned by studying with different teachers over the span of my career and through my own experiences while performing. I enthusiastically continue to pass these 45 years of experience and knowledge on to my students. I have been a faculty member at several Universities (University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, SIU, SUNY Purchase, NY, prestige’s summer programs (Aspen Music Festival, TOP, plus others and continued to teach privately in the USA and in Europe one on one personally and also through Skype.
I continue to have many students go on to enjoy long professional careers, singing at the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, San Francisco Opera, Chicago Opera, Bastille Opera, and generally, all over the world. I have also had many students become stars on Broadway and even some who decided to write their own music, record, and now perform with their own bands on the world’s stage of pop music. Then there are the students who decided to pursue other venues but who continue to enjoy contributing to their communities with their talent. I am equally proud of all of them. Each has truly found their own voice. That's success!
Let me tell you how I first became interested in teaching singing. Having just graduated from the University of Arizona, winning first prize at the San Francisco Opera Auditions and having immediately been given a contract to sing in their fall season, I knew I needed to find a great voice teacher. The first person I studied with as a young professional was Robert Weede, both a great teacher and an amazing professional singer. He gave me some invaluable advice. He told me that if I really wanted to learn how to sing, I should start teaching voice. What a wise man! This forced me to understand exactly what it was that I was doing vocally because I had to be able to demonstrate and explain it to my students.
As I said, I believe there are only two things a singer can be in control of: first and foremost, breath, and second, the space in which the physics of sound occur. Mine is a holistic approach to the process of singing that allows all the parts to work in tandem without any interference and is consistent with and often called “bel canto” singing. I believe that the thinking brain is a lovely tool, but doesn’t know how to sing. Singing comes from the intrinsic right side of the brain that runs all our automatic pilot programs like: your eyes blinking, your spleen doing whatever a spleen does, and also the elegant gymnastics of your voice box.
Creating the space in which the physics of sound occur is what we call “an open throat”. This first requires understanding how the jaw opens into a naturally released position to create an open throat. Let me show you one way to easily find this position. First make sure you are standing or sitting up straight and that your head is balanced correctly on your spine. In doing so you might notice that your chin is pointing a bit down further than you are used to. (Alexander technique will help with this.) Now, place the first three fingers of one hand, up under your ear, where you can touch both the back of the jaw bone and also feel that tender part of your neck at the same time. Now, open and close your jaw making your back teeth click together after each released swing. One more time, open, and as you close feel your back teeth click together once again. You will notice that the jaw actually swings back toward your neck muscles rather forward or down. Notice that your tongue lays flat in your mouth, with its tip touching, or just at the back of, the front lower teeth.
After discovering and experiencing this action and then leaving the jaw in this open position with your fingers reconfirming the open throat position , say the vowel “awe” like in the word awesome. Say it with energy and conviction! Your immediate connection to breathe might surprise you because it feels different from what you are used to experiencing. Again, find this open jaw – open throat position with your fingers helping as a guide and without altering this position at all (and your tongue resting with the tip touching the back of your front teeth), take in a fast inhale as if you are going to breath in that “awe” vowel down to the bottom of your breast bone. As soon as the breath has reached the breast bone, stop breath and hold the inhaled “awe” in this position (without altering any of the throat- jaw -tongue structure) notice where the building of the air pressure is happening and again, without changing the structure of your open throat or jaw position, release the air. You will notice that something within the voice box, inside the open throat is happening even through you are not adjusting the actual structure of the throat as it does so. Do this several times and you will find “your sweet spot”, that place unique only to you, where breath and vocal chords come together to produce sound. Once you’re comfortable with this process repeat it once more, but this time have a note in mind that is in a very comfortable middle to lower range in your voice, take a fast inhale on the vowel “awe” and immediately, (without making any alterations to the position of the open throat or tongue), sing a strong sound using the same “awe” vowel in your same “sweet spot”, holding it as long as your breath will allow and without altering the position of your jaw, throat or tongue. Observe what’s going on as you do this process without altering either the jaw or throat position. Notice how your breath is now supporting the sound without the throat and tongue grabbing. Like I said… Simple, but not necessarily easy: At least at first.
This method produces the essence of the voice and that beautiful long legato phrase, extraordinarily clean coloratura and the opportunity for great emotional expression, diction, and dynamics. Both Garcia and Lamperti, two famous long ago voice teaching icons have said that one of the biggest problems for singers is that they try to take in either too much or too little breath for each phrase, thus creating tension in their throats allowing no access to that breath they have just taken for creating sound.
From my experience this is still oh so true today. There is only one proper way to create a solid foundation for singing so find the teacher with whom you have great rapport, respect and understanding to take you through this leaning process so you only have to learn it once to have a solid vocal technique for the rest of your life. The alternative is to suffer a lifetime of doubt and useless vocal “fixes”.
I am interested in working with a limited number of singers headed for professional careers, and because I am a dramatic soprano, I am especially interested in working with dramatic voices.