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—Margaret Harshaw. She not only gave me the tools to sing, but encouraged my curiosity, which I exercised at the Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center while singing with the New York City Opera and Metropolitan Opera. At the NYPL, I discovered the hidden roots of García's teaching as well as a great deal more—which led to the founding of a professional journal; a blog on historical vocal pedagogy; my first book; and a generous grant from the Agnes Varis Trust for continued research and study.
Along the way, I learned that minor genetic hearing loss discovered during a hearing test for a summer college job 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 of the principles of the old Italian school of singing.
With the dots of my life having been connected in a way I could never have anticipated, 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.