I guess sometimes we just have to live through stuff and do our best to make lemonade out of lemons. As my ex-husband always said, “the path you’re on is not always the path you’re on.”
I wanted to be a singer. I must have really wanted it because the universe threw lots of obstacles in the way but I just kept right on going. Even though in high school I had won a tri-state competition to sing with a community orchestra, received annual number “one” ratings in vocal competitions from solos to sextets every year, and had studied voice with the Director of the notorious St. Olaf choir, when I got to the University of Iowa, I was assigned a graduate student as a voice teacher. Over the course of the next two years, I had 3 of them because they kept graduating and leaving. I just allowed this. I didn’t like it but I was too intimidated to do anything about it. I thought I was good enough to get better treatment from the University, but because my self-esteem was so low, I didn’t know what to do about it. All those teachers were happy to work with me but…………….Opera wasn’t my passion anyway. I just wanted the degree and voice was STILL my major instrument. Nothing to do but keep going and try to make some lemonade.
The summer before I was to do my senior recital, I was arbitrarily assigned a staff voice teacher who was on staff just for the summer. We “clicked” and she could not believe I had not been placed in a major studio. We were preparing for my senior recital. She became my mentor. After the summer, she offered to teach me privately, but I had to get special permission to receive credit and to do my senior recital with her. She suggested it because she had done that before with someone else. There was a precedent. Shouldn’t be a problem. However, when I sat down with the School of Music Department Head and explained my situation, he said, “NO.” “But it’s been done before,” I retorted. “Well, we have to draw the line somewhere.” I left his office feeling totally defeated. My mentor and I were both very disappointed. But, she talked to one of the professors and I ended up in a major studio for my senior recital preparation. My recital was a huge success with family and friends attending, but my recital jury (two other voice professors) did not show up. You see, my dress rehearsal had not gone well. My professor came in, listened to one piece and walked out!
Yeah, I was a little upset. But all my instrumentalists urged me on. We had rehearsed. They knew what I could do. They liked their roles in the program. So we all got it together during the course of the dress rehearsal and the recital was GREAT! The person recording it even told me it was one of the best and most interesting he had recorded. I kid you NOT! I chose music from different time periods to make it interesting and to accentuate my versatility and to satisfy my interest in various styles. I even performed a contemporary piece for flute and voice written by my best friend (and practically only) friend from St. Olaf days who also attended! It was a grand event. Surprised the hell out of my voice professor how well it went. I think she feared embarrassment and told my jury not to come, maybe? Whatever. She said she would pass me anyway and told me some lame excuses why they weren’t there. Ahhhhhhhhhhh Lemonade!
I continued to study voice privately with another professor at the university even after I graduated. I remember the day he told me, “too bad I didn’t have you in my studio. I would have made a singer outa you.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. So I sang.
I studied voice with a couple of other voice teachers I discovered through a new age-y group I rolled with in those days. So I was always studying voice. One day I said to my good friend, I think I need some more voice lessons. She said, “why? You should be teaching it by now!” She was right.
When I was assessing my skills after the 9,000 bike trip that took me to Texas, I decided to start teaching voice privately – along with piano and guitar.
I learned so much from all those different teachers. Over the years I have developed a technique that works with pretty much anyone open to learning a ‘technique’. I call it ‘effortless singing’. I wanted to be a singer. I AM a singer and now I have acquired the skills to be a teacher. I don’t know if I would be able to do what I do now had I not had all those dang voice teachers! The path I was on, was not the path I was on. Opera was never my passion. I appreciate those operatic voices. But I wasn’t going to sing opera. I was not listening to opera. I can teach in that style, but now I’ve spent years learning how to use my voice as an instrument so I can sing in a variety of styles – styles for which I DO have a passion. I did it! I acquired skills. And because I can now be grateful for my path and drink the lemonade, I welcome you to come down my path and experience my Effortless Music Instruction.
© 2015 Moondance Treasures Music Publishing