**If you're in a hurry, feel free to skip to the recipe. Look for the "-----" ;)
At a couple different points in my life, I've had family members mention to me that I'm scattered or have been randomly passionate about what I'm doing as a career...or that career option...or this other one. In the moment, that was hard to hear, and not because it was true, but because I have never felt that any part of my journey has been random our scattered.
I started dancing at a very young age. I spent most of my days at the dance studio after school, was on my studio's competitive team, did the Nutcracker every winter at Ballet Austin, and went to every convention I could to learn from as many teachers as possible (I don't know how my parents did it.) In fifth grade, we had the option of orchestra at my elementary school, so I wanted to learn to play the cello, but the next year all of my friends were joining band, so I HAD to play the flute! Did I switch from one to another? No way....I was now spending all of my evenings at the dance studio, my early mornings practicing cello, and my lunch period practicing flute. No one was pushing me to do this. It was all I wanted to do.
My eighth grade year, I didn't make it into The Nutcracker. I was devastated. I think it had something to do with it being around the age that the pre-professional classes began for the academy and/or the fact that I was a bit curvier than your typical ballerina. But it just so happened that that same year, a new equity theatre was formed in Austin and they were running a summer camp before kicking off their first season. My middle school drama teacher (yes, I did that too) suggested I try it out, and that's where my true passion for musical theatre began.
I spend my high school years honing in on what I really wanted to do. I found myself performing with Austin Musical Theatre as a professional dancer in the ensemble of their shows and joined their junior company of triple threat high schoolers from all over the Austin area. I joined the high school choir so I could become more comfortable with singing, and quickly found a love for choral and classical vocal music. My world had shifted so much, that when the time came, I applied to colleges for voice, instead of dance. I chose Oklahoma City University because, at the time, it was the only school that offered a musical theatre degree within the music program, allowed you to level into the dance major's classes, and I could play my cello and flute in the symphony and philharmonic for extra scholarship money. Again....not letting go of much.
Fast forward...(past some incredible years with my friends at OCU, working with my beloved voice teacher Florence Birdwell, taking on opera and musical roles with equal enthusiasm - something I never expected - and traveling the world on my first cruise ship contract of many)...to living in New York City and finally putting my shoes to the pavement. I found my balance, mentally and physically, by attending donation-based yoga classes. I got so excited about it and wanted to know more, so I did my 200hr RYT training at a studio right by the theatre district. I spent my NYC years bouncing on and off cruise ships and tours (thank you cello and flute and the onslaught of actor-musician musicals), teaching yoga and circus, and studying embodied anatomy and kinesiology at a wonderful studio called The Breathing Project. So I guess it's not surprising that I came to my family one Christmas trying to decide whether to take a job as the manager of a yoga studio or go back on a cruise ship OR go back to school to finish my masters degree. "I thought you wanted to be on Broadway? How is this going to get you there?" (fyi Broadway would be nice, but has never really been at the top of my list) "You're always a bit all over the place. You're excited about this now, but what will change next month?" I love my family so much. They are incredibly supportive of everything I do, which is why I have been able to do so much! But this was the moment I realized that I am the only one who truly knows the depth of my experience along my journey, what touched me deeply and what was just fun and temporary. So the decision was: I did one more cruise ship contract to save the money, then I went back to school to finish my masters.
Back at OCU, I asked if I could tailor the remaining courses within my curriculum to look at voice pedagogy instead of opera or musical theatre performance. They let me run with it! During my year there, it became apparent how much I longed to bring my experience as a yoga teacher and life-long student into my passion for musical theatre and voice pedagogy. I continued to teach both yoga and voice, and found myself merging my experiences along those separate paths into a "technique" or approach to pedagogy that felt very authentic to me. After completing my degree, I was asked to teach dance and acting majors as adjunct voice faculty. I could relate to both the speakers and the movers because of my past "journeys", and I kept searching for more understanding of why this approach works so I could better see every student that crossed my door.
My first full-time teaching job took me and my family to Tokyo. I served four years as an Associate Professor of Music at Senzoku Gakuen College of Music, within their musical course. No strangers to international travel, my Italian husband and I met on cruise ships, so we were excited and intrigued by the idea of spending time in a part of the world that neither of us had ventured to yet. It was one of the best decisions of my life. I was teaching voice lessons, voice classes, scene study, and ensemble work, creating curriculum and directing large-scale showcases for the department twice a year. It was a sort of bliss. Everything I taught had to be translated, which was tricky. And the language was definitely not easy even with the immersion. I loved having a playground to try my approach to musical theatre singing and voice pedagogy. I was able to create lectures in Anatomy and Function, English diction, Musical Theatre History, Analyzing Stephen Sondheim, and exploring other various composers and shows. The school even allowed me to travel to Salt Lake City one summer to attend the Vocology Institute and study with Ingo Titze and Kittle Verdolini! For that and so much more, I am forever grateful.
After four years in Japan, and we longed for family and wanted our daughter to start school in the states (the pandemic being a straw on the back of an already temporary, but wonderful, situation), so we're back in the US. I miss Japan and my colleagues and students. But I just had the most blissful holiday season, surrounded by family, some of which we hadn't seen in years.
So here I am. Back in school to study for my doctorate in Voice Pedagogy with a concentration in Voice Science, at the only school (as of now) that has a DMA in Voice Ped that looks at CCM (commercial music) genres in addition to classical. It's my dream program, with inspirational teachers and an amazing cohort of graduate students, and it has been highlight after highlight of learning and processing. I decided I can't wait until I graduate to start something that feels like me. This is me. Starting.
Body Mind Voice Studio brings together all of the practices that I think are important in the journey to find your inner artist and your unique voice. The voice is used for expression. Expression comes from feeling and opinion. Feelings come from the mind and are felt in the body. I believe that in order to safely and sustainably express ourselves in an authentic and organic way, we need to have an awareness of the body and the ability to take care of ourselves, physically, mentally, and vocally.
Body: Empowering connection through awareness of breath, movement, and support.
Mind: Preparing for practice and performance with mindfulness, mental wellness, and creativity and play.
Voice: Helping you exceed your own expectations by understanding the mechanics of the voice, and journeying to find your unique perspective and sound.
Studio: Giving you a safe and engaging place to explore community, playful practice prompts, and performance feedback.
Why?: Because the body, mind, and voice are so intricately and beautifully connected, and sometimes we just need to create the space to figure it all out.
I'm hoping this can be that space for whomever need it.
Thank you for reading. Happy singing!