When I first wanted to take voice lessons, I was told I was too young. The only teacher I knew in my home community refused to take students my age. I was 14. I was singing in choir, performing leads in musicals, and learning my favorite pop songs on the piano so that I could sing and play like they did in music videos. My idols were Tori Amos, Kate Bush, Loreena McKennitt, Sarah McLachlan, and the Indigo Girls.
When I finally began studying voice with a private teacher, I was a freshman in college. My first voice teacher was a lovely human, but I came away from that year with no real understanding of my voice nor tools to grow. My second voice teacher (may she rest in peace) was an amazing musician, but often emotionally unstable, bordering on abusive. I did learn some valuable lessons from her, and she was an inspiring example of vocal longevity, singing through her 60s sounding like a 30-year-old. But overall, I did not come away with a better understanding of how my voice worked. After college, my next voice teacher told me at each lesson, “sing louder!” Or “do it just like that singer on that CD”. Not many useful takeaways...but I did start to sing louder!
Finally, I found a truly gifted teacher who was able to point me to useful resources, explain how my body and voice really work, and help me get serious about growing as a singer. The year and a half I spent with her was by far the most productive and transformative of my singing life, and I still use the many tools she gave me. THAT experience, especially in light of what had come before, is what set me on the path to teach. It was so deeply rewarding for me to work with someone who was knowledgeable, perceptive, supportive, and communicative. I wanted to do that work. I wanted to give other singers that experience.
Now I’ve been teaching private and small group voice lessons for over 20 years and...
I love holding space for students to grow and transform, just as my teacher did for me.
I work to ensure that all of my students feel that they are heard and respected.
I give my students the tools needed to grow, transform, and thrive as singers and performers in their chosen genres.
I endeavor to impart deep understanding and help each student feel agency over their body and their voice.
I believe that all students, no matter their age, ability, experience, or taste in music, deserve to feel supported and encouraged.
I want to provide that safe and inspiring space to play, learn, and grow.
That is why I teach.
Who do I work with?
I specialize in mentoring young singers and future teachers moving toward careers in music, often preparing for college or grad school or training program auditions. I also love to work with middle and high school students for whom music is a big part of their lives and those who are preparing for musical theater auditions, scholarship auditions, solo & ensemble, or competitions. I "cross train" my singers so they are versatile and competitive, so my drama geeks will sing SOME classical music and my opera nerds will sing SOME musical theatre or pop to stretch themselves and use the voice in varied and wonderful ways.
Where do I teach?
I run a private studio in Tacoma & Vashon, WA, and online, and I teach in the Music Departments of Pacific Lutheran University and Tacoma Community College.
Some other interesting tidbits:
I am an active performer myself! I gig around the Pacific NW in opera productions, symphony concerts, chamber music, choral groups, and early music (we're talking music written before 1800 - I love the old stuff). You can find the info about my performing life here!
I am an enthusiastic member of NATS (The National Association of Teachers of Singing), and currently serve as the District Governor for Western Washington. What that actually means is that I get to hobnob with some amazing voice professionals from around the country and learn from them on a regular basis. I attend conferences and workshops on voice science and pedagogy in order to hone my skills and keep current on new knowledge. I also serve as faculty advisor for the Student NATS group at PLU, where we plan enrichment activities and learning experiences for young teachers or those who are interested in becoming teachers. I also belong to a FANTASTIC working group for voice teachers called the Speakeasy Cooperative.
I LOVE adjudicating at WMEA and NATS auditions and solo/ensemble festivals, and I also LOVE leading master classes and singing workshops for choral ensembles and student groups.
J'ADORE working with foreign languages and coaching students through the correct pronunciation and meaning of languages like Czech, Russian, Norwegian, and of course, French, German, Italian, and Latin. When I was a teenager, I lived in Antwerp, Belgium for almost 5 years. Living in that international community sparked a lifelong love affair with languages and lyric diction!
I am a certified yoga teacher and a life-long student of anatomy, natural movement, and breathing. I weave my yoga training into my voice teaching, using yogic practices and ideas to help students know their bodies better, cultivate awareness around alignment, breathe more efficiently, and release unhelpful tensions in the body. From time to time, I also teach specialized yoga workshops designed for singers.
Some nitty gritty facts:
I have a Bachelor's of Music in Voice from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where I won a Hilldale Undergraduate Fellowship and researched the French composer Marie Grandval (she was pretty rad!).
I earned my Master's degree in Music from the Hartt School at the University of Hartford in Connecticut where I won the Berkowitz Opera Scholarship and taught as a T.A. in the voice department.
I completed fellowships at the Aspen Music Festival (twice!) and the Music Academy of the West, and I'm a graduate of the Seattle Opera Young Artists Program.
I did some further specialized study in Russian song at the Britten-Pears Programme in England, and in the music of the early Baroque with Stephen Stubbs and Nancy Zylstra at the Accademia d’amore in Seattle, and on full scholarship at the Baroque Performance Institute at Oberlin College.
I spent an AWESOME summer with my sister (also a professional musician) studying Scots Gaelic and traditional Gaelic song with Mary Jane Lamond and Angus MacLeod in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. (My family heritage is Scottish - my heart leaps at the call of the bagpipes).
I completed my yoga teacher training in March of 2016 at Island Yoga Center on Vashon Island, WA.