Updated: May 4
Yes, as a matter of fact, this is me with a Robert Smith birthday cake. Now, allow me to tell you about my first voice teacher.
My first voice teacher was a stern, humorless woman who taught out of her home in the fancy part of town. Lessons consisted of scales, arpeggios, and Italian and French opera songs that she never translated for me, so I never knew what I was singing about. But damn, did I learn to sing those vowels properly. When I plucked up the courage to tell my teacher that I was actually more interested in singing musical theater, she assigned me the song, “I Enjoy Being a Girl,” which must be one of the most sexist and gender-stereotype-affirming songs in existence. “When I have a brand new hair do, with my eyelashes all in curl, I float as the clouds on air do, I enjoy being a girl.” I, deep in the midst of a goth stage, wearing all black with my hair dyed copper and sporting Robert Smith-style red lipstick, was not impressed. Not to mention, she taught me to sing it like an opera singer.
I religiously went to lessons every week, but here’s the thing. I could sing the warm-ups and exercises, crisply enunciate, “I flip when a fellow sends me flowers,” and all the rest of it, but deep down, I didn’t feel worthy of singing. I didn’t feel I deserved to stand up straight, open my mouth wide, say what I needed to say, and be heard. So I stayed small, and my voice stayed small. Then, when my teacher told my parents, “Amy’s just not progressing, she’s not going to be able to become a good singer,” and discontinued lessons, I felt even more strongly that I had no right to sing.
How many of us receive those messages throughout our lives? You’re singing along with the radio in the car, and a family member smirks, “Don’t quit your day job.” You’re brave enough to try out for the school musical or choir, and you get a solo, and jealous classmates talk about how they could have done it better. People tell you you’re too loud, too outspoken, too…big. You choose to share something really vulnerable and you are met with a blank stare, an uncomfortable silence, a change of the subject. So over the years, you become more and more silent. You go to events to hear “singers” sing, and you forget that we are all singers. It’s our human birthright. We are all singers. We just stopped believing in ourselves. We stopped believing that we have something to say, and we stopped believing that anyone cares to listen to what we have to say.
Well, I’m not going to be complicit in this any longer. Things are shifting all around us, and it’s essential that we all find our voices, perhaps now more than ever. To this end, I am thrilled to announce that I am accepting students for private and group voice lessons for children age eight through adults. I will teach you the mechanics of singing, from good breath support and body alignment to intonation, articulation, phrasing, tone, and more. But this is just the beginning. Lessons with me include guided visualizations and embodiment practices to free the body of tension and unlock your natural power and radiance. Together we will explore your emotional blockages to singing, identify and deconstruct messages you received about your voice, and let go of the idea that you don’t deserve to sing and speak your truth. Students will build self-confidence and courage, acquiring the tools to be not only great singers, but also great human beings who can speak up and feel worthy of being seen and heard. I hold a safe, playful, respectful, and encouraging space where all are welcome to be their full selves, and where lessons are fully customized to meet the needs of each individual student.
Oh yeah, and no gender-stereotype-affirming BS songs, for goodness sake. You sing the songs that you love the most, that make you feel most alive, that connect you with the story you most deeply want to tell. And I teach you how to allow your emotion and deep personal experience to pour out through that song and into the hearts of the people who are blessed to hear it.
Are you in? Click here to read more about the services I offer and view testimonials from students, or contact me here to schedule a lesson for you or your child!
What were the messages you received as a child or an adult about your voice? What resonates with you about this post? I'd love to read your comments below!