A Winding Road To the Vocal Studio

Each one of us has a story.  And as Brené Brown has shown us with her research, there is value in telling stories and being vulnerable.  I want to tell you an abbreviated story of how I came to be a professional voice teacher.  This idea, of telling the story of how I got here, has been in my head for over a year.

And honestly, my inner critic has had a lot to say about keeping quiet and not saying one single, solitary word about it.

My hope is that telling a short version of the story in this lil’ bloggy blog will help someone out there take a deep breath and enjoy the ride a bit more.  There is no better way to live than trying things out.

How do you know what you like and what you’re made of if you don’t take some risks and go for it?  Your joy is at stake.  I believe we are in an era where lots of us are waking up to the realization that there is no standard except joy.  I have indeed learned that the amount of joy I feel is the measure, and pretty much not much else will do as far as standards go.

So, here goes.  Deep breath . . . and . . . writing . . .

I have always been able to sing.  My parents tell a story about my first words, which happened to come out in the form of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” from beginning to end.  Up to that point I had not done the typical baby babble.  Nope, I launched from no words straight into a song.  A crazy tale that my mom will tell you if you’d like to hear it from her perspective.

Fast forward into my 20s.  I took a job doing psychology research at Vanderbilt University after college, and with saxophone in hand, headed to Nashville.  There was an advertisement for “jazz voice lessons” at the Nashville Jazz Institute in the local paper about 8 months after moving to Music City and it felt like the heavens opened.  You see, I had always played jazz, but never got a chance to sing it.  (Except once.  In high school.  At a small cabaret dance in the cafeteria.)  And I knew in my heart of hearts that this was for me.  It was the thing I was born to do.

Fast foward again . . .after learning how to sing the jazz music, how to book gigs and tours, how to record albums, how to lead a band, how to make a formidable dent in a “music career” while working full time . . . to landing a dream job as a teacher of jazz voice at Vanderbilt University at the Blair school of Music.  I took that job and ran with it.  What started out with only 1 student in the spring of 2005, turned into upwards of 20 students per semester in a few short years.  The students were hungry for jazz, and I was thrilled to be there.  It just worked.

Alongside teaching, I still worked at different jobs and simultaneously managed the different aspects of being a jazz performer and writer.  One of my favorite jobs was as a women’s advocate at a domestic violence shelter.  (That job deserves a post of it’s own.)  Then came an overwhelming curiosity to know how the voice works, and ultimately grad school for a Master’s degree in Commercial Vocal Performance at Belmont University.  There, I absorbed as much knowledge as I could about voice pedagogy and music.  It was a “just the right thing at the right time” kind of experience.

One of the highlights of my life thus far has been a summer spent in Salt Lake City, Utah, studying voice science with people like Ingo Titze, Eric Hunter, and Kitty Verdolini-Abbott.  There are many wonderful life highlights, actually, but this particular summer stands out as one of the richest educational opportunities of my life.  You have to understand, the real graduate degree I want doesn’t exist yet.  This particular summer program is the closest thing you can get to a pure Vocology degree, and it felt like I’d hit the jackpot.

All that to say, I really enjoy bridging the gap between the classical and commercial singers of the world.  I want to bring the best practice and knowledge I can from the world of voice science (much of which is held by classical voice professionals) to the contemporary musicians who need it to do their very demanding jobs.  My frustrations in taking voice lessons early on and not being able to get answers about “why” have lead to finding a world of information and teachers that have helped me make sense of the whys AND hows of the voice.  (Another blog on that subject soon.)

I now work for myself and am the owner of Love Revolution Vocal Studios.  I am in the transformation business, and there is literally nothing better than helping someone heal or encouraging their beauty or being there for the next emotional breakthrough.  This job is a perfect marriage between psychology and music, and God willing, I’ll get to do it for a very long time.

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You Are an Athlete, a Very Vocal Athlete

You know what?  It feels really good to be here, writing here, for you.  Because I have a lot to say, and because you are the sparkly fuel that lights this world up.  And no matter what, you can’t hide it.  Your creativity is the juice.  THE juice of of the universe.

Speaking of “can’t hide,” you also can’t hide from a very big truth.  If you sing (or speak) for any part of your creative life or monetary living, you are a vocal athlete.  This means that your voice is part of your body, and can be trained, nurtured and exercised like other parts of your body.  Of course, there is so much more to your voice than just a bunch of muscle and tendon and air flow, but I’m here to encourage a different perspective on voice.  One that lets you off the hook if you are struggling or confused or even looking for deeper answers about your vocal instrument.

Think of an Olympic athlete for a minute.

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Hello, Love Revolution

I needed a business name.  Then it hit me: “love revolution.”  The name of the song.

It felt like this song was given to me.  (The full lyric video is below.)  The chords came, the words flowed, and the whole tune was pretty much finished in an hour.  And the song says what I believe, that the only place change is going to take place is right here, right now, inside us.  Me and you.  The big changes we are all waiting for “out there” can only really happen inside each individual.  And that peace movement we dream of, that shift from hatred to love (and more love), is only achievable one heart at a time.  And this IS a heart matter, y’all.  There’s no way to THINK our way around it.

I read the words to a friend soon after they were practically dictated to me.  This friend laughed at “love revolution,” and said it sounded like something out of the hippie era.  True.  It does.  But, for one of the first times in my life, I didn’t care who laughed because I cared more about the message and how it felt to share my viewpoint than what my friends think.

So, my voice studio needed a name.  Why not make a declaration?  Why not say who you are and what you want?  Love Revolution.  Perfect.  That’s the whole game.  A love revolution.  That’s what I want, and that’s what I’ve gotten.  Nothing less will do in this life.  Yes, I’m an idealist, say what you want about it.  But, every time someone sees or says my business name they are (on some level) taking in, absorbing, processing the words love revolution.  It can’t be helped because you can’t NOT be aware of what’s called to your attention.

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