the music tutor.

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Where did you learn to sing like that?? Part 1

Before I begin to post articles on vocal technique on this weblog, it might be a good idea to give a little background, in case some of my students are silently wondering, “Okay, so WHY should I listen to YOU?” Consider it a mini-biography of sorts.

I was a sophomore in high school when I started taking voice lessons. Before that, I didn’t know “voice lessons” existed. I really didn’t. I had gone to All-State Chorus three years in a row before that, but that was it. I knew how to read music. And I sang pretty well, I guess. Well enough to participate in All-State and District Honor Chorus. It was after an audition for the Governor’s Honors Program that one of the judges told my chorus teacher that I should start taking lessons, and referred someone to him for me. I was so excited.

I didn’t make it into the GHP. I was an alternate. It was a bummer at the time, though the fifteen alternates were given a free trip to Skidaway Island (that’s in Savannah) for a week. That was cool. It more than made up for it. The GHP would have taken almost all summer, leaving no time for me to do anything else. This way, I had time to continue taking the lessons I had started.

My first teacher was just starting out. She was on the north side of town, so I had to drive at least thirty minutes to get to her apartment. That certainly didn’t matter to me. I knew I was doing something important. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and I felt like I had accomplished so much after each lesson. Besides that, it gave me the opportunity to practice driving!

Was it my desire to major in Music if I went to college? No. I figured people didn’t do that. It couldn’t lead to a real “job.” So instead of going to a conservatory, I went to Dartmouth. I planned on majoring in Economics and eventually going to Law School. That would definitely be a good career move.

I decided to minor in Music so that I could still do what I enjoyed sometimes, and signed up for some beginning classes. The decision to minor eventually turned into a decision to double major–Economics and Music. I realized that with all of the Music classes I would be taking, it would be enough to complete a major. I also auditioned for the Darmouth College Chamber Singers, a small chorus that sang madrigals and other works a cappella. I knew I would enjoy that more than the Glee Club because it was a much smaller group (Glee Club was massive) and seemed more challenging.

Joining the Chamber Singers was a good idea. It was my favorite weekly activity (we rehearsed twice a week), and I ended up being a featured soloist in every concert for the four years that I was there. We did an annual Renaissance dinner theater called Feast of Song, and we did a concert tour in Italy my senior year. I had a wonderful time.

During my Freshman Fall, the woman who would become my voice teacher came up to me after the Fall Concert and encouraged me to audition for voice lessons. I did. My teacher was very good; she helped me gain confidence in going further in my vocal range. She was also very hard on me. At times I wondered if she even liked me. I came to find out later that she did, and she just wanted me to “realize my potential.” Apparently she wasn’t sure about how serious I was.

Well, I was serious, and I took everything she said as law. I practiced as diligently as I knew how, and loved every minute of it. I even loved those minutes where I was so frustrated at what I was doing wrong that I could cry. My teacher taught me what she knew about support, although it wasn’t very well articulated. I accomplished a lot by trial and error as a result, but managed to develop a few good habits. I also developed some bad habits, some of which would not be corrected until years later.

My four years of lessons helped me “graduate” from being a mezzo-soprano to a soprano. I entered some singing competitions and did well. I gave a successful Senior Recital. I also had other valuable opportunities of which I took advantage, and my confidence grew. I thought I was as good as I was going to get.

I was completely off the mark with that assumption.


1 Comment»

  alex wrote @


Wow what a journey. It was an enjoyable read. I just wanted to say thank you for your time and effort into this site. I will definitely let others know about it! Have a great day!

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