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.