Happy 2014 "Mix Tape"

I used to make real mix tapes for friends when I was in high school.  I had a little stereo with tape-to-tape recording capabilities and I would spends hours in my bedroom making what I thought was the perfect mix.  We all had tape decks in our cars and mix tapes were a much better jam than anything on the radio.  Not only that, but before the internet, this was the best way to find out about new bands and underground bands.

There is something that still charms me about making mixes.  I love the idea of sharing something as personal as, "This is the song I can't stop listening to right now!"  I also love playing DJ in my bedroom, painstakingly choosing the exactly perfect song to go after this other song - the process of mixing and matching beats, moods, and musical ideas.

So, to kick 2014 off in style I made the modern version of a mix tape - a YouTube playlist.  I spent hours picking out just the right songs and finding a way to seam them together in a cohesive manner.  Please check out my mix.  It's filled with music that I have found to be inspiring to me as a singer and musician.  I hope it's interesting and inspiring to you as well.  Here's to a new year filled with creativity and passion!

Link: HAPPY 2014 "Mix Tape" on YouTube

Bookmark This! 7 Music Blogs for Musicians

There are several music blogs I like to visit regularly because they are both interesting and inspiring.  Check them all out; bookmark them!

1.  Joyce DiDonato Video Blog

Joyce DiDonato is one of the most successful living opera singers in the world.  I beg you to listen to her doing anything Baroque.  It will melt all of your sensibilities and leave you tingling for no apparent reason.  Such a visceral reaction can only occur when beauty inhibits rationale.  But I digress.  In addition to her busy schedule of singing with, for example, The Met, Joyce has an active video blog on YouTube.  She tackles all sorts of topics from how to deal with loneliness on the road to advice on breathing technique.  This is an excellent opportunity for us to receive vocal advice from a premiere performer at a reasonable rate: free.  Here is her video of breathing technique:

2.  The Bulletproof Musician
This is a blog focusing on practicing practices for musicians. Dr. Noa Kageyama is on the faculty of Julliard and has combined his knowledge of music with psychology to break down how we can make the most of our time in the practice room.  One of the articles I particularly liked was: Why the Progress You Make in the Practice Room Seems to Disappear Overnight  I've since embraced a random sequence of tasks while practicing - trust the Dr. on this one.

3.  Do The Math
This is a great, all-around blog by musician Ethan Iverson.  He is the pianist of The Bad Plus - a band I'm really digging these days.  He writes about musicians he respects, and musical ideas or techniques he's working on.  It seems as though lately he's been lamenting his poor trills.  Something I wholeheartedly relate to.  If he thinks trills are difficult on the piano, perhaps he should try vocal trills - an entirely different beast.  Here is a video of The Bad Plus, because they're just wonderful to listen to:

4.  The Talk House
A blog where musicians write about music.  So obvious it's brilliant.  The range of albums that are reviewed is broad and the writing superb.

5.  Jessica Hopper's tumblr
Jessica Hopper is one of my favorite music journalists.  She writes for Spin, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and various other online publications.  Her observations are always trenchant and she seems to know everything about music you wish you did.  Her tumblr account is particularly entertaining and random, albeit somewhat colorful.

6.  Music History in gifs
Exactly what is sounds like.  A perfect way to waste time on the internet - when that's your goal, of course.

7.  French Torch Singer Radio
This may be the only station that Pandora is unable to provide you.  A 24/7 stream of classic, French torch singers singing classic French torch songs.  It's makes a lazy weekend morning feel decadent.  An added bonus if you can read in French are the factoids throughout the website about various French musicians.

8.  Sybil Vane's Twitter Feed
Ok, an extra recommendation - my own twitter account.  Follow my stage personality, Sybil Vane, on twitter @sybilvanesings .  I'm figuring out this whole hashtag thing, posting about gigs, band goings-on, and other musical things of interest.

Some Thoughts on the Movie "Pitch Perfect" and the Word "Pitchy"

I struggle with students who use the word "pitchy" to describe their own sound because it is imprecise, and unhelpful to singers.  It is my goal to help people sing better - something I believe anybody can do.  These pop culture trends have generated some myths for singers, and would-be singers, and I intend to do my part to dispel them.  Everyone deserves to feel like learning to sing is an opportunity available to them, especially if it's something they want to do.

Pitch Perfect

Alright, "Pitch Perfect" is just a comedy. One can't take it too seriously.  That is, until singers cite it as an influence on their singing.  Don't get me wrong, enjoying musical films is a great way to get turned onto the craft of singing (for me it was "Newsies"), but there are some erroneous assumptions that the movie "Pitch Perfect", in particular, enables.  Let me debunk some of these myths about singing that have come into my studio:

1. Perfectly harmonized mash ups of 80's songs can be composed and performed on the spot.  Good harmony and voice leading is the work of sensitive and skilled arrangers.  In fact, many people have built careers upon arranging well-known songs to suit vocal harmony.  These pieces are performed by well-rehearsed choirs under the tutelage of a skilled choral conductor.  Sure, bluegrass bands like the Carter Family were known for whipping out pleasing 3-part harmony to old folk tunes, but they were raised to harmonize with one another and furthermore grew up singing the very songs that they later recorded beloved versions of.  It just isn't possible that college students with varying backgrounds and little experience working together would do anything like this:

2.  To learn a song, you really just need to sing along with the original recording a few times.  Listening to a song you love and singing along can sometimes be helpful, but many young singers do not know whether they are singing the correct pitch or not.  Matching pitch is not something that comes naturally to everybody, but is something that can be learned with the help of an instructor.  Hearing pitch is also an underestimated skill, particularly for singers.  Instrumentalists learn to hear pitches as sharp, flat, or centered early on.  Guitarists, for example, must learn how to tune their instrument by ear.  Singers are at a serious disadvantage because they do not need to press keys or fret strings in order to hit, say, an E.  But, knowing whether your pitch is centered is key to interpreting a song well.  When you learn a song only by singing along to a recording, you are highly likely to memorize inaccurate rhythms and pitches - something that is far more difficult to undo down the road than to have learned it accurately from the beginning.  The movie "Pitch Perfect" never shows any character doing vocal warm-ups, looking at sheet music, or rehearsing parts and adjusting mistakes before hitting the stage.  Sure, that would make for a really boring scene in what is in reality a silly movie, but many of my students have erroneously thought that they would be ready to hit the stage after having listened to a song on repeat on their iPods.  Nope, real singers work real hard.  We're talking about hours and hours of practice.  Even your favorite pop stars maintain exhausting schedules of rehearsal and vocal coaching.

3. Great singers either just have "it" or they don't.  A few of the main characters in the movie indicate that they have never sung with any kind of group before.  They seem to just show up to the auditions with professional sounding voices, and "Wow!"  The actors who sing in this movie have all had careers as singers, and have trained many years to be able to do what they do.  Not to mention that the actors are all in their mid and late 20's.  Even an extraordinarily talented teen will still have to grow into their voice.  It takes time, practice, and the assistance of an instructor to discover what your unique voice can do and how you can use it.  Furthermore, teens' vocal folds are not fully developed.  For women, this won't happen until around the age of 30.  For men, vocal folds are said to be developed in their mid 20's.  Additionally, I believe that all aspiring singers can learn to sing great no matter the level of natural ability they enter the studio with.  Again, time, training and practice are the keys to success.

4. The term "Perfect pitch," means you sing really well.  Actually, musicians generally take "perfect pitch" to mean that a person can identify any pitch simply by hearing it, or that they could sing any pitch that is called out.  For example, if I played an Eb on a piano without the person looking at my hands, they would correctly identify the pitch.  Piano tuners may have perfect pitch.  I have met orchestra conductors who had perfect pitch.  It is a reflection of a musician so involved in their craft that they have acquired acutely sensitive hearing.  To them each possible pitch has a unique and distinct quality that identifies it apart from the other pitches.  I think it is important to clarify this special trait that a small number of musicians have.  A singer is actually working towards having accurate pitch, meaning the pitch they are singing sits harmoniously within the harmonic framework the band, or orchestra, is laying down.  In other words, when we notice that a note sung sounds very good with the notes the other musicians are playing.

"Pitch Perfect," is an entertaining, humorous film, (although, it's worth noting that the characters of color have little to no importance in the film which is a shame,) but it's not an example of the kind of trajectory one might have in their pursuit of becoming a singer.  The film's central plot is to show a singing group preparing for a competition, and that becomes the central problem to aspiring singers who might take a cue from the film - the preparation depicted is nothing like the real thing.


TV shows like "The Voice" and "American Idol" have popularized a word I have come to disdain hearing in my studio: Pitchy.  I began hearing this word about a year ago from students of all ages and wasn't sure what the students meant by it.  It's not a particularly specific term and certainly isn't used by any musicians I know.   Sometime after hearing this word used by students, I went to my mom's house one night.  We watched several episodes of "The Voice" together and I solved the mystery.

I'm not a historian or an etymologist, but I believe the term "pitchy" was invented by Randy Jackson circa 2010.

Let me tease out the problematic implications of powerful music executives throwing this word out on TV as though is were any kind of helpful critique:

1. That the term "pitchy" is synonymous with "off-pitch."  In episodes of these singing programs I have watched, judges occasionally use the term pitchy when in fact the singer is not off-pitch, and neglect using it when a singer is off-pitch.  This indicates that the judges are not, in fact, helping a singer to know when they are singing slightly off-pitch.  It would be helpful for the judges to identity pitch problems for a singer so that the singer could address the specific issue, but the judges seem to be referring to pitch problems only some of the time.  Without clarification the singer is woefully lost in how to improve.

2. Confusing the term "pitchy" with a quality of tone production.  In many cases, I believe what the judges are trying to communicate to the singer, is that their tone production is poor, or an inappropriate choice for the repertoire.  For example, a singer may have an overly nasal tone.  Singers on these programs tend to push, or strain, their voices in order to sound louder and this can create a "brassy" or stressed tone, which is not pleasant to the listener.  A singer may want to create a different tone for a sad, country ballad than an uptempo pop song.  A singer must choose carefully what sort of tone quality the song calls for.  Audiences are very perceptive to these details even if they are not able to clearly articulate their tastes and preferences.  If something is off, the lay person may be prone to say it sounds "pitchy," but again, this does not help the singer clearly identify the issue in order to correct it.

The solution to the term "pitchy" would be to use more specific critiques and comments with a singer.

1. Singers are frequently off-pitch - even the most famous singers today and in the past were occasionally off-pitch.  The voice is a vulnerable instrument and many factors can contribute to the pitch being slightly off.  A more helpful critique would be to let the singer know if they are sharp (a bit high) or flat (a bit low) so the singer can consciously raise or lower their pitch.  Voice teachers are trained to recognize the causes of faulty pitch, whether it is due to breath support (the most common reason), vocal strain, a poor/closed mouth position, or even merely fatigue.  By identifying clearly where the pitch is off and the probable cause, a singer can quickly and easily make adjustments.

2. Singers must discover through experience, practice, and the guidance of a vocal coach or teacher, what tones they naturally produce and how they can alter these tones.  This is not only a stylistic matter, but a technical one as well.  Many young singers are still developing their registers and have not learned how to blend them.  This can create poor tone quality as singers try to sing high notes with too much chest, or low notes with too much head.  Likewise, young singers sometimes do not trust how loud their voice actually is and can be inclined to push their vocal folds beyond their capability.  Not only does this produce an unpleasant tone, but it can cause permanent damage to the delicate folds.  With appropriate guidance from a teacher or coach, the singer will learn how to rely on physical sensations to create specific tones rather than what they think they hear in their head.  A good teacher will make specific suggestions as to a change in posture, mouth, head, tongue, etc.  A good teacher will also guide singers through the process of blending registers so that the singer has a stronger control over their own voice.

If you are an aspiring singer, I can't urge you enough to find a voice teacher that you feel compatible with.  Don't fall for the modern pop singer mythology - singing takes work, practice, passion and the help of experienced instructors.

Next Steps: Make a bowl of popcorn and enjoy pop movies just for what they are - entertainment.

In the Toolbox: Practicing

Is Ash practicing or just having fun? Sometimes it's the same thing!

Practicing on your own is essential for all musicians.  For the singing musician there are two unique challenges: 1) that you are incapable of hearing yourself accurately and 2) that you require accompaniment.  In order to make your practice time efficient and ultimately productive you must solve these dilemmas.

Before I go into some of the tools I use to practice, I would like to dig into the challenges singers face when setting up a practice routine.

Singers are unable to accurately hear themselves.  Our hearing mechanism is located inside our resonating mechanism.  It would be like trying to determine what a guitar sounds like by placing your head inside the body while strumming.  You would hear some of the acoustic resonance, but you would not hear the guitar the way a guitar actually sounds to an audience.  Similarly, your head is merely a resonating body, but your actual sound is occurring beyond your body.  What the audience hears is not what you hear.  Think of this: what is your reaction when you listen to your own voicemail message?  Does it match what you imagine your voice to sound like?

Singers need accompaniment, somehow.  Singers, unlike other instruments, cannot push a button in order to hit, say, a C# or an Eb.  For all the beautiful things a voice can do, we have vulnerable instruments that need harmonic reference points.  This is the single biggest challenge my students face.  Many singers do not play an instrument such as guitar or piano, and furthermore, when practicing a song it is best to focus only on your singing, rather than hitting the right keys on the keyboard.  Singers could arrange for an accompanist to rehearse with, but accompanists should be paid for this service.  The overall cost can be quite high if you are relying solely on this.  I reserve the hire of an accompanist for rehearsals leading up to a performance.  If you are singing with a band, you can only reasonably expect the band to get together once or twice a week.  What do you do to accommodate a daily practice schedule?  You must rely on recordings.  [More on this in another blog post.]

In light of this, here are some tools I have found indispensable in my studio:

A recording/listening device:

You must have a quality recording device in your possession.  The recorder on your phone will work in a pinch, but will not pick up the subtleties of your voice.  In other words, you won't notice the problems or even when a solution is working.  I've used GarageBand on my laptop, but the internal mic picks up the whirring of the computer motor, which is distracting.  I prefer my Sony PCM-D50.  It has several features that make it ideal: it is lightweight and portable, so I can take it to lessons and record them easily; it has two condenser mics built in, which have an incredibly high quality of recording (I've used it to record live rock shows with pleasing results); it records files digitally for instant playback or transferring easily to your computer.  In the photo I have a pair of headphones plugged in so that I can record myself running through vocal exercises or a song, and instantly listening to it.  I can then assess the run-thru and make adjustments.  Record and repeat as necessary.  I also record all of my performances, load the tracks onto my computer and can listen to them or share them with others.  The Sony PCM-D50 is a bit of an investment, but it is no more expensive than a decent electric guitar or a piano - tools that other musicians cannot afford not to buy.  If you are not ready to make this kind of purchase, at least look for a less expensive handheld recorder.  GarageBand is also available on iPhones and iPads.  I have not experimented with these, but they may also be fine recording devices.

A mirror:

A mirror is useful for checking your posture and mouth position while singing.  Because singing is a physical act, it is paramount that our bodies are simultaneously energized and relaxed - or aligned.  Because we are human, we tend to carry tension, anxiety, or fatigue in our bodies unknowingly.  A simple check in a mirror can help you address these issues as they arise.  I recommend a full length mirror in your practice area.  Here, I have pictured a pretty, antique mirror because it looks cool on the shelf.  Small mirrors can function for "mirror checks" as well, but only for the mouth, jaw, tongue, etc.

A meditation pillow:

 My boyfriend has a beat-up, well-worn meditation pillow, and the day I tried using it while doing vocal exercises was a day of great discovery!  Over the years I have found that standing while singing can be distracting, or overwhelming.  In addition to focusing my thoughts on getting the right notes, creating line in my phrasing, generating consistent airflow, modifying my vowels, resonating in chest or head, or any other many things that can dramatically affect your tone, not to mention your personal expression...... and I'm supposed to stand tall, ignore back pain, not sway on my feet, do I tuck my butt or not?  Aaaaah!

A meditation pillow is a miracle solution for this conundrum.

Sitting in chairs can be problematic too.  Most chairs are constructed so that your butt slides back in the seat.  This is pretty relaxing if you're working at a desk, but if restricts your breathing apparatus.  With a meditation pillow your hip flexers are lowered and relaxed.  You are able to have a tall, extended back without the forcing your spine to hold the entirety of your weight.  See the picture of me sitting on the pillow.  My torso is positioned perfectly for singing, and with little physical effort.  It makes sense, though; meditation pillows were designed for people to relax while doing breathing exercises (or pranayama in yogi terminology.)  I LOVE doing vocalises while sitting on the pillow!

A music stand:

A music stand is ridiculously helpful while practicing with your recordings.  It is obviously awesome that a stand keeps your hands free.  I like the "conductor's stand," because it is durable and can hold heavy books.

These tools will get you started on a solid practice routine.  In addition to these things, which you can add to your personal studio, be sure to take regular voice lessons.  Nothing can replace the outside, objective ears of a professional, and the gentle guidance of someone who wants you to achieve your best.

Next steps: Get to work!

On the Music Stand

Books on Vocal Technique

Don't put drinks on the keyboard like I do!

I received my copy of the Vaccai in the mail yesterday and I blame that for my insomnia, which finally ended, shamefully, with reading an oral history of "Cheers."  Yes, the television program.  That's when it hit me that I must absolutely force myself to sleep.  I don't even enjoy tv.  Nonetheless, if you are curious, here is the link. My favorite quote is from Woody Harrelson, "I became a party animal. You couldn't do what I did now because of all the tweeting and Facebooking. All the shit I did back then, I'd be hung from the rafters." Entertaining, but not as much so as learning about good vocal technique.

Before the internet rabbit hole I found myself in at 7am (Ted Dansen!), I was digging into now ancient vocal technique books.  Ancient, by my account, because they predate sophisticated technical knowledge of the vocal mechanism, i.e. how the vocal cords work, etc.  Also, they may be ancient by others' account, because they teach bel canto, or the Italian (read: old) school of singing for 19th Century opera wannabes.  Even in my operatic training I didn't delve into these technical, vocalises (pronounced voh-cah-lee-say) books too much.  In my research, though, I found that I liked the approach and furthermore, that their old age means they are public domain!

Let me digest some of what I found.

Vaccai: Practical Method of Italian Singing for Soprano or Tenor

I learned of this book when perusing the Berklee College of Music website.  In their "Voice Department Handbook" they outline the repertoire and performance expectations of a student over the course of 8 semesters, each semester including a Lesson from either the Vaccai book or the Concone book.

I began working through this book last night - before my first attempt at going to bed.  Lesson I contains exercises on the diatonic scale and intervals of thirds.  Dustin helped me hook the keyboard up to my GarageBand a la MIDI.  I recorded the accompaniment and sang the two exercises on [a], concentrating on line (I can't stress enough how important this concept is to all singers!), legato phrasing, and the getting relationship of thirds into my ear.  

If you would like to try singing Lesson 1 with my humble accompaniment use these bandcamp tracks.  If you do not already have the book, try searching for a free pdf online.

Next steps: with these exercises: write down IPA (the International Phonetic Alphabet) for the Italian text, and reinforce intervallic relationships with some sight singing (more blogging on sight singing later).

Marchesi: Twenty-Four Vocalises for Soprano and Mezzo-Soprano, Op. 2

Mathilde Marchesi led an interesting life in the late 19th Century.  She enjoyed singing, but apparently did not have a particularly pleasing sound.  Taking her enthusiasm to the next logical conclusion she became a voice teacher and taught many opera starlets of some renown.  Her books are still a go-to for Classical voice teachers.

I have had a copy of this book since college and worked on 3 or 4 of the exercises.  They do not have any particular text, although the fashion of the time would have been to sing on an open Italian [a].  Believe it not: the Italian "ah" is quite different than the English "ah" which is placed further in the back of the mouth and tends to be nasal.  The goal with these exercises is to build a strong voice able to center on the pitch, execute various ornamentations, and sing both long, consistent notes and rapid, multi-note passages.

I have found it challenging to teach beginning students how to hone in on an accurate pitch. In part, their ears are not yet attuned to the finer distinctions in pitch.  Additionally, they do not have vocal strength with which to hold a pitch consistently.  In other words, pitch will often fall flat as the note is held out and the breath decays.  Breath control obviously plays a role in this, but the singer must conscientiously apply what vocal instructors call the, "glottal attack," or the engagement of the vocal muscles.  This takes exercise.

Next steps: revisit some of the exercises I learned in college and try them out with students who may be having trouble hearing and maintaining pitch.

Marchesi: Vocal Method Op. 31

After four decades of teaching Marchesi published what was to be her most comprehensive text on the topic of female bel canto singing.  This text includes a large compendium of exercises, similar to those in her Op. 2.  It also includes a nice introduction to her philosophy and some tips for producing a fine vocal quality.  There are more extensive directions that accompany the exercises.  Again, there are no words to be sung.  Her belief was that singers should slowly work their voices up to a point of preparedness with which they could then sing nearly any repertoire.  Of course, she never lived to see Janis Joplin.  That may have changed her ideas in this regard.

I read the entire introduction and found some useful and amusing bits:

- She states that a singer can prepare the glottal action before emission of sound.  What I gather she's saying is that we can move our vocal cords together without vibrating them, before beginning to sing, or vibrate them.  Is this true?  The vocal cords do not have nerve endings that we can feel, and as far as I know their action is involuntary.

- She emphatically believes that the female voice has three registers, rather than the two I've always heard about.  Hers are: chest (ending between E4 and F#4), medium (ending around F5),  and finally head.  The medium voice is new to me, although what she defines as the limit of it, F5, is close to what I have personally experienced as my head voice passagio.  Why have I not heard of the medium register before?  Is it simply out of fashion, has it been debunked by modern pedagogy, or did I have neglectful instructors in my youth?

- She recommends that beginning students practice only five to ten minutes a day, but that they do this practice three or four times per day.

- This little bit of advice: "The use of the corset by females causes lateral breathing because it compresses the abdominal walls.  Ladies who would become singers are, therefore, strongly advised to avoid clothes which, by interfering with the freedom of the waist, prevent the inflation of the lungs at the base."  But, you know, only take this advice if you would become a singer.

- Grasseyement is a word that means the incorrect pronunciation of the letter "r," especially by the French.  Take that Serge Gainsbourg.

- She says rather poetically, "Sound is a property of the air, as color is of light."  I like that.

Next steps: wield air as a painter would the sun.

Getting into some literature.

Music Books

With the new year has come much change, including the building of a music studio at the house and more music students, therefore a need and desire to study more music myself.  For your interest, and I hope it's somewhat interesting, I thought I'd share with you what I'm studying and the progress I'm making.  That's kind of what blogs are for, right?

Recently I amended my library by seeking out reading requirements at Berklee College of Music.  They have a handy list of courses and the reserves here.  It's a good start when researching resources. I focused on their voice classes. Then, of course, I found most of the books on Amazon for cheap. This may or may not be a sign that Berklee students are ditching their texts upon graduating.

Here's the grocery list:
Sight Singing: Pitch, Interval, Rhythm, Samuel Adler, c. 1979, W.W. Norton & Co.
Freeing the Natural Voice, Kristin Linklater, c. 1976, Drama Book Specialists
Vaccai: Practical Method Italian Singing for Soprano or Tenor, Nicola Vaccai, c. 1894, 1975, Schirmer
On Singing Onstage, David Craig, c. 2000, Applause Theatre
Scat! Vocal Improvisation Techniques, Bob Stoloff, c. 1998, Music Sales America

My boyfriend, Dustin, asked me what my goal is in studying these books - a great question.  I want to teach better, which means understanding the voice as an instrument more intimately, and to have more tools in my repertoire of teaching.  I'm looking for new and interesting vocal exercises.  I'm also interested in performance technique as it's taught to new actors and singers.  Additionally, I want to brush up my own music theory since I know it's value to all singers regardless of style or level.

I learned singing through hours upon hours in many teachers' studios beginning when I was 12 or 13.  (My mom remembers exactly what age I began, the name of my first teacher and possibly her address.)  Today I continue to study voice with Ayo Awosika to work on my less Classical chops.  Although I feel like I have some mastery over my instrument I know that I have more to learn, and likewise, in order to teach singing I must take a closer look at what all goes into the human body as a musical instrument.  But, mostly, I like to take a note from this tale I heard about Mahatma Ghandi:  

A woman lived in rural India and had heard that Ghandi held audience once a week for anyone who might seek his counsel.  Although she lived many miles away, and had only her feet for transportation, she made the long journey for she had an important question from the esteemed leader.  She arrived at his home and waited many hours for her turn.  When she finally came before him, Ghandi asked, "What may I help you with?"

"My son, Ghandi, he eats too much sugar and will not eat the healthy food I painstakingly prepare for him.  What can I do?  He is not developing well for his age."

Ghandi paused for a moment, as though in deep reflection, before he replied, "Come back in one week and I will give you an answer."

Frustrated, the woman left.  She spent the remainder of the day walking home and was very tired when she arrived.  Still she had no guidance in solving her dilemma.  Nonetheless she made the same trek to Ghandi the very next week.  She waited again for many hours for her turn to speak with him.  When she came before him, he kindly gave her many tips for convincing her son to eat healthy food instead of sugar.  Frustrated at his easy response, she asked him, "Why have you made me wait for this counsel and make another long journey on foot, when you could have told me this at the first?"

To which Ghandi responded, "You see, when you came to me last week, I was eating sugar.  How could I honestly give you counsel when I was also neglecting my health.  I needed time to give up sugar myself."

I don't know if the story's true, but the pedantic message holds true for me as a practitioner and teacher.  I believe that in order to truly and honestly teach voice I must be a student as well.  In this way, my goal is simply to better my musical skills for as long as I am able.  For now, I have a hefty reading list.

Next steps: Drink a cup of tea and read.