My formal instruction in music began with a collection of excellent elementary school teachers; foremost among them was “Mrs Elliott,” followed by “Miss Chigas.” Individual voice training began when I was eleven and has continued on and off to the present. Cumulatively I’ve received over twenty years of classical vocal training. Technical training pales compared to the experience of working with skilled performers, but is a critical component of my creative development.
As any performer knows, you are constantly “training” in one form or another. Unlike average who just listen to the radio or go to see a show, we watch for every move, we breathe along with every onset, we soar with every aria, and we experience the music/theatre/performance from the inside out. We learn from everything we see, whether it’s a formal production or a spontaneous play by five-year-olds.
I was fortunate to be a talent among one of the most talented classes my school system had seen. Our entry into high school coincided with an adminstrative shake-up that allowed new ideas into the curriculum that energized our group. More important to me than the “Best Vocalist” award I won in high school was the “Best Soprano” award, because my companions for winning in the alto, tenor, and bass categories were friends I’d sung with since grade school.
Consequently, I’ve always sought peer groups whose own talent challenges me to dig deeper in myself to find more creative expression as well as technical expertise. I long for that feeling of “tribe” that comes from peer collaboration and creation.
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