The philosophy of my practice rests on the assumption that you already have everything you need to sing fully, openly and beautifully. Your body, mind, and spirit are your instrument, and you come “fully-loaded” with all the tools, both physical and mental, that you need. Difficulties arise from how much you get in your own way, through the ideas you have about singing, and the manifestation of these ideas in your body. The study of singing is not about anything I give you, but is instead the study of what is preventing you from accessing the brilliance you already have. The result is that you sing with ease and power, enjoying a direct connection from artistry to sound.
Studying singing is a process of awareness, and the most foundational awareness concerns posture and breathing. Healthy singing is based on using the breath to do all the work. Rather than using our throat as an engine in this process, we use the much larger and stronger muscles of the abdomen to control the airflow. We become passive where we thought we should be active — the throat, and become active where most of us are passive — the belly. Because singing breathing is the breathing we do when we are born and when we sleep, we must make conscious that which is already in us and use this form of breathing while awake. Singing using the breath as momentum means that we will have our voices as long as we are alive. I call this my “life-time guarantee!”
My passion is to help each student discover their most organically produced, natural and open sound, and to make that sound the foundation for the rest of their singing. In this process, I also help each student see that the concepts they have about who they are, where the music is coming from, and how safe it is to let that sound go are just as crucial in opening to the full sound as knowing the words and the music. If our hearts are not willing, our voices will not follow. In addition, I try to make this as fun as possible! In the words of a student, “in my observation, that’s a big part of the reason why working with you is so enjoyable and effective — having some fun helps to dispel the fear/intimidation factor that some people feel, helps to keep the optimism and patience level high, and keeps the joy present along with the discipline of the work.”
The relationship between a voice teacher and student is a sacred one: because we can never truly hear what we are doing, we have to trust our teachers to be our ears. This is why I try to teach my students to sing by “feel” and not by hearing. The sound of our voice will change with the resonance of every room we are in. The feel of it will never change. Regardless how little feedback we are getting by hearing, we can always tell how we are doing by the feeling of what is going on in our bodies. It is like learning to fly an airplane on instruments, rather than by sight.
I have been honored to watch my students take the risk every day to open their hearts and voices, changing their lives along the way. And while I know I have been sitting in the teacher’s chair this past 16 years, every student I have had has been my teacher as well.