The Real Story
I've been singing for as long as I can remember, and as a boy, was fascinated with my mother's voice. When singing in church, I prided myself on being able to match her lyric soprano above the staff. At the age of 8, she took me to see Mary Poppins, where I encountered my daemon in the form of Julie Andrews, and my head exploded: Not only did I want to sing that like—I had to know how Andrews did it. But before I could figure it out, hormones hit, and my voice slid into the basement!
After what felt like a long exile, I started taking voice lessons at the age of 17 with a husband and wife team: she played piano while he shoved his fist into my solar plexus. Though I learned next to nothing from them, I did perform a great deal; singing crazy much-too-soon leading roles like the Mikado before escaping to a small college in the midwest, where I obtained a music education degree. After teaching elementary and high school choral/instrument music for three years, I knew I had to find my voice and began graduate study at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey where I met the woman who would change my life—the legendary doyenne of voice teachers and force of nature—Margaret Harshaw. She not only gave me the tools to sing, but encouraged my curiosity, which I exercised while singing with the New York City Opera and Metropolitan Opera. Right across the plaza at the Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center, I discovered the hidden roots of Harshaw's teaching, as well as a great deal more—the result of which has been the founding of a professional journal; a blog on historical vocal pedagogy that is climbing towards a million readers; my first book; and grants from the Agnes Varis Trust for continued research and study.
Along the way, I found that minor genetic hearing loss discovered during a hearing test for a summer college job in a steel mill was not as insignificant as I was led to believe. Addressing it involved a life-changing course of Tomatis listening training which has given me a unique understanding and means to impart the principles of the old Italian school of singing.
In connecting the dots between past, present, and future, I am grateful to have realized more than my 8-year old self ever dreamed possible.
My advice to students? Mind your daemon.
Suggested Reading: The Soul's Code by James Hillman.