It took me 24 hours to bake a pie

In our house, we have recently taken up pie baking. 

I’ve perfected cookies, we’ve kept our sourdough starter alive since April, clocked in tens of hours watching Great British Bake-Off. Now, It was time to take our baking up a notch. 

Two weeks ago Jordan and I stumbled across Erin McDowell on YouTube, teaching the masses the surprisingly complicated and beautiful intricacies of pie making. An hour and a half of tutorials later, we were hooked. 

The next week, we rushed out to buy her newly released cookbook, loaded our fridge with butter, and declared ourselves PIE MAKERS. 

Here’s how it started: Confidently!

Here’s how it ended: disappointed, confused, and an entire 24 hours later.

Oh, and I nearly burnt the apartment building to the ground. 

It took 24 hours from start to finish because I ruined the first crust in the oven as all the butter leaked out and smoked up our entire kitchen. So I started again, this time resting the dough overnight in the fridge. When I had finally cooked a successful crust the next day (or so I thought), I waited for it to cool, then baked it all with it’s tasty pumpkin filling. 

After hours of cooling time, we were ready to eat our creation!

But alas! The pie was (practically) raw when we cut into it and the bottom crust was decidedly soggy. We ended up BAKING IT AGAIN, which did set the center but turned the bottom crust into rubber. 

Did we still eat it? Sure did. 

Would I call it a success? No, no I wouldn’t. 

Here’s the thing: watching an hour and a half worth of instructional videos on YouTube does not make you an expert.

It doesn’t even mean you have a SINGLE CLUE about the thing you’re trying to learn. 

It is a start, and we all have to start somewhere. 

If you too are a bit underwhelmed by the progress you’ve made by only watching YouTube or TikTok instructional videos… why not get some personalized help in a lesson?

Or, get on my waitlist for my soon-to-be released Warm-Up Series. These guided vocal warm-up recordings feel like I’m there with you- holding your hand the whole time. 

Ah, it started so confidently. At right: before we cut into the pie to find out it was soup.

Thanksgiving is only a week away and I am NOT GIVING UP ON MY PIE MAKING DREAMS! (also, what else am I supposed to do all winter?!)

But, going into my next pie, I am going to follow the instructions carefully, take it slow, and keep my expectations reasonable. I’m not going to be good at this for a while, and that’s ok. For now, I’m going to take alllllll the expert help I can get.

Anyone have any pointers?!

77 Days ⏰

For a year that seemed to drag on and on and on, can you believe there are just 77 days left in 2020? 

With that kind of timeline, it’s easy to say:

  • There’s no point in starting something new now (the music project you’ve been wanting to dive into for months)
  • I’ll wait until the new year to make any Big Changes (voice lessons and band practice can wait)
  • There’s not enough time to make any real progress (so why start vocalizing now?)

The Broadway community got a big update this week as well, extending the Broadway shut down until May 30, 2021. 

In a lesson with my student Jake this week- he’s in the Broadway cast of MEAN GIRLS- he shared something pretty insightful.

He said, “At the start of quarantine in March, every day was completely unknown- will we go back to the show in April? Summer? Labor Day? This most recent announcement, while it’s completely sad to think of 8 more months without theatre in New York, gives me a more concrete timeline. OK, I have at least eight months to do something different, to figure out how I’m going to fill my time.”

Something about a definite length of time makes it easier for us to plan for, obviously!

So what if you crushed the last 77 days of the year, tackling goals you just “haven’t had time for” yet? Or pursued another skill or talent that can supplement your income in the future, knowing that Broadway won’t be back until mid-2021?

Here’s a few ideas to make the most out of the next 77 days:

  • Make a list of roles/shows you want to play in the future. In lessons or on your own- learn every piece of music that character sings!
  • Revamp your audition book with material that is *actually right* for the kinds of roles and shows you want to be seen for. 
  • Now that you love your audition cuts- self-tape each and every song in your book! Compile a library of your audition material that you can send out to casting directors when auditioning resumes (and I guarantee much of it to be virtual!).
  • Make demo recordings of the songs you’ve written this year and be brave enough to share them with a few trusted friends for feedback. 
  • Reach out to the fellow songwriter you’ve always wanted to collaborate with.
  • Set up a recurring time on your calendar (set an alarm!) to vocalize for 10 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Just do it! And be amazed at how your range and stamina improves. 
  • Are you a voice teacher? Request to observe other voice teachers teach. Book an interactive lesson where you and another co-teach a tricky student of yours that you’d love another opinion on.

Seven and a half years in the making

My friend Carolyn is a gifted actor. She’s incredibly passionate about theatre (particularly Shakespeare) and continuing education. I’ve watched from afar (largely through social media) as she’s made career shifts as an actor and director, and as she’s auditioned for graduate acting programs for the past seven years. That’s right – seven!

Carolyn isn’t a student of mine, but she shared her story on Facebook this week and I just knew you needed to hear it (don’t worry, I asked if I could share her post here!).

“Seven and a half years ago I first started applying for graduate acting schools.

Over that time I was: rejected, gave up acting, found myself and the courage to start acting again, earned more rejections, started taking Shakespeare acting intensives at some of the best schools in the world, was hired for my first Equity Contracts, earned more rejections, gave up on graduate school and refocused on just acting professionally, had a personal awakening and realized how important graduate Shakespeare training was for me, earned even more rejections, received more Equity Contracts, continued to arrange more training with some of the best Shakespeare coaches in the world….

And then…. in March 2020 I was offered a place to train on the “MA in Classical Acting for the Professional Theatre” at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. 

It doesn’t make any logical sense to start a training program I’ve worked years to find in the middle of a pandemic, with upheavals at all levels of education and training, but I am where I’m supposed to be.  Sometimes you’re given a glimpse in life, showing you exactly where you need to be, when you need to be there. I’ve learned that IF I’m given the gift of a glimpse, I’d better trust it…even if it doesn’t make sense.  So here’s to faith in the future and a wonderful, years worked for, year of training at LAMDA.” – Carolyn H.

Sometimes, the timing of things just doesn’t make sense.

When it comes to working towards a long held goal, there are often so many factors at play, many of which are completely out of our control. 

But what is in control are our choices– do we keep pursuing? Do we take a break? Seek more training, knowledge, and skill development? Pause on one goal to work towards another?

Just because you don’t have something you really want (or have worked for, or feel like you deserve) right NOW, doesn’t mean it’s not coming.

Is it worth it to you to keep working until it does?

10 Years of Vocal Education

This weekend I found out that I PASSED my Mentor Level/Level 5 panel test!

Great! So what does that mean . . . ?

I began my vocal instruction education in 2007 with a voice teaching organization called Speech Level Singing. At that point, I already knew I wanted to teach someday — either part-time to support my other artistic dreams, or full-time if the time came that I felt teaching was more my path. My mentor and teacher, Jeffrey Skouson, encouraged me to consider starting my teacher training before I had even started college. So with his blessing and my parent’s support I started what has been a TEN year process of education, conferences, reading and study, private lessons, yearly testing, and so much more.

Ten years later, I’ve achieved the highest level of certification possible with the Institute for Vocal Advancement. This past month, Jeffrey and the other Master Teachers in our organization watched and assessed as I taught a 20 minute lesson in front of them (a ‘panel test’). It was not unlike the other annual tests I’ve been taking for the past ten years, but this time the entire panel of Master Teachers adjudicated. And I passed! With flying colors!

I am thankful to my teachers and peers who push me and our entire teaching organization to become the best voice teachers possible. I am thankful that at 17 years old, Jeffrey saw something in me that he believed would make a great teacher one day. I am thankful that my parents encouraged me to continue, and I’m grateful for the passion I’ve had to pursue this dream. What 17-year-old sets out to reach very specific goal, which will take a decade or more, and actually achieves it? I recognize that I’m extremely fortunate to have had the support and opportunities necessary to accomplish this long-time goal.

My education is far from over, and thankfully my training will continue with IVA. However, having reached this milestone- there are no more tests in my future! Whew!

I can’t speak highly enough of the community of teachers I am a part of. If teaching voice has ever been something you’ve considered, I encourage you to think about investing in that education and skill set. I’d love to talk to you about how to make that happen for yourself.

All worthwhile endeavors take time and practice! For me, it’s been ten years of time and practice and practice and practice, and I am thrilled to have reached this milestone.

 


A bit about the Institute for Vocal Advancement:

At IVA, we strive to continually develop our program with the latest research in vocal science to address these and other questions. We educate and produce the finest voice instructors in the world who develop, promote, and maintain the highest standards for the teaching of singing.

As a Certified Instructor, you have access to our yearly teacher conference, IVACON, teacher-trainings, master classes and workshops right in your area, as well as online training in the form of webinars. Our education will help you to understand how the voice works and how you can continually improve your teaching in order to quickly diagnose and fix problems in any voice, and also how to develop voices of a professional calibre that can meet the demands of modern careers in singing.

Just Give it Time (+ Practice + Dedication + Lessons + Practice + Dedic…)

I guarantee you all of your favorite singers worked for years to get the voice they have today. Whether it was formal training with a teacher, or practicing along to Whitney’s riffs and runs in their bedroom for years on end, no one just #wokeuplikethis.

Guy Babusek said it well in a recent blog post:

“Some students will only book lessons when they have auditions or important gigs coming up. When there are no performances on the horizon, I never see them. This is not a wise way of working with a voice teacher at all. In these cases, there is no time to actually build a solid technique. These singers are trying to cram in years of training into small spurts sporadically. While this is better than no training at all, it is a very ineffective way of working. Solid singing technique is built over time, by taking weekly lessons and vocalizing daily in a systematic manner.”

I can’t agree with Guy more! The best time to start your vocal training was three years ago, but the second best time is NOW. Right this minute! Don’t wait until your dream role audition comes up, or you go into record your debut album next week. A great voice takes REAL time to train.

If you want to be a professional singer, or even just a good amateur singer, take RESPONSIBILITY for the time and effort it takes to accomplish something worthwhile. Recognize you won’t get their on your own. If you value something, give it the time, energy, and even money it deserves. In the case of your voice- book regular lessons and practice every day.

 

2016 Resolution: Learn to Sing!

Why learning to sing should be on your 2016 bucket list

I have countless clients that come in to me with similar stories: “I always wanted to take lessons, but my parents thought I should learn a more relevant instrument,” “I could only take one extracurricular, and soccer always won out,” “I loved singing when I was young, but as I got older, I just never made the time for it,” “I think I might have a good voice, but I never learned how to sing properly.”

For some reason, singing often takes the backseat when it comes to musical training. Parents think it is not as serious of a musical skill, or as impressive on a college application as, say, the soccer team or math club. Even more so, people believe that you’re born with or without natural singing talent, which discourages many would-be singers from improving their voices.

Here’s the deal. Anyone can learn to sing. Anyone! And it’s never too late to start. Never!

I have a fantastic new client. She’s 65 years young and thrilled to finally be developing her voice in lessons. She’s enjoyed singing her whole life and has recently developed the attitude: what better time than now to do something for myself? Each week she progresses, and her dedication is evident in her hard work and improvement.

Your voice is the purest form of communication there is. Whether you enjoy singing in your car, in your choir, or at Carnegie Hall, singing is always a joyful expression. It’s an instrument you already own, constantly carry with you, and can keep your entire life. Learning to use it is an investment that will reap rewards for a lifetime to come.

Ring in 2016 with some joyful noise!