I was addicted to theatre in my high school years, but especially musical theater. I played Hucklebee in the “The Fantasticks”, which is a really sweet broadway musical, and got the performing bug. I have sung in Church and coffee houses prior to this but always with a guitar between me and the audience. In theatre, you have to let that protection go and just be there fully. I love the equality and commeraderie that exists in the theater-world and having to work to an ever higher degree of perfection in performance, and in precise teamwork with others.
You can be like me, a bit of an introvert and a little inhibited, but with rehearsal and continued development on my skills, I can be a most outgoing person and full of confidence. As an audience member once said to me, “Oh, that’s what a professional singer sounds like”. For me, performing is a Path for personal development and to face my fears and tame them. And because I love to sing (and in theatre, for that time on stage, it is undivided attention).
After High School, I managed two coffee-houses where we brought in local talent (this was in Boise and Mountain Home, Idaho) and always performed my material, at that time, guitar and voice. I directed and produced theatre (musicals and plays, entertainment programs, and talent shows for the Air Force, was a project officer for the Air Force Worldwide talent show on the Las Vegas strip. Nellis Air Force base is right there on the strip.
I attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, a professional school for actors in Manhattan, the oldest one in America. Here, I experienced two years of live performing, and training in a collaborative, repertory environment. Training was in voice and speech, movement, ballet, singing voice, dance, the classics and contemporary plays, and yes, fencing- ‘On Guard’! The training was geared toward developing our performance skills and our body, our mind, and our emotions. The performers instrument is their body/mind and this I grocked very early on and have continued to learn all I can to teach others. All you have is your body as a performer and you have to develop it in all realms, to their full capability.
After the Academy, I auditioned and performed in New York, off-off-broadway and off-broadway, continuing private coaching with the best private coaches I could afford, to learn to work toward ever higher degrees of mastery with acting, and singing in particular. I was a dues paid member of Actors Equity, the National professional actors Union. I did numerous shows in those years. There was “Sam Shepard’s “Cowboys Two” at the Actors Collective Theatre. I was in the “Importance of Being Ernest” by Oscar Wilde, and “Night With Guests” as well. I was cast as the lead in “Everything In the Garden” by Albert Albee in 1978.
My own singing voice changed dramatically when I was introduced to physical exercises from both the Oriental Culture and Western Exercise, and then received Rolfing bodywork sessions in 1979. I saw at that time that I was going to make a study of the human body and voice. Skilled body work and intrinsic muscle exercise has a dramatic effect on our singing and acting capabilities, and simply because imbalance and body tension prevent authentic, resonant, and relaxed presence.
I was certified as a Rolfer® in 1985, had studied massage and antamoty and physiology at the Swedish Institute in NY City as a prerequisite of that training.. I maintained a private practice, teaching professional singers how to release fear and tension from their body which can inhibit the instinct to sing and speak clearly and resonantly and relaxedly.
Margaret Riddleberger and other voice teachers referred their students to me to enhance their singing development. I did this work full time in private practice in New York City from 1982-2002 while I continued my own performing. Margaret and I developed a physiological approach to teaching voice and we produced workshops for actors, singers, and dancers in Manhattan as well as consulting work with Dr. Tomatis Institute of Paris.
This almost 20 year period honed my skills for working with singers and helping them embody the principles and skills needed to sing well, and most importantly, never do harm to their voice.
In the early 90’s I was doing my one-man show called, “Love, Desire, and Growing Pains” and here I had the chance to really develop my full range of performing skills in a solo performance vehicle. Aside from constant auditioning mostly for musical comedy, I also performed this show for the Marymount Performers Outreach Program for many audiences and performed regularly at the 92nd Street Y (which BTW serves over 400,000 audience members annually). It is a well known and classy performing venue and helped me build my chops. And I have always sung for seniors because they deserve our love and understanding.
I have continued to teach singers one-on-one in private practice and offer vocal workshops in New York City since moving to Boulder, Colorado. I am in the process of developing online webinars that teach voice in a unique way from the privacy of your home or office. This basic class is for anyone wishing to improve their singing voice skills. Your speaking voice will improve because they are essentially and scientifically the same process. The motor skills that are used to speak are essentially the same for singing with small adaptations.
It has been more than a 40 year path of learning all I could about the singing voice, the body and the human psyche and just how acquired tension/fear of being ourselves and the tension that is absorbed into our bodies over our lifetime, interfere with our development as singers and performers. I am singer who has worked with professional singers and am a trained psychotherapist for assisting singers to free thee blocks that prevent them from being successful.
I have learned so much about how the brain/Central Nervous System functions and I have developed protocols for helping improve general resiliency in performance (and life). I have learned everything that I could that supports a well-rounded singer. This has been a path of internal development for me because you have to begin to see yourself as others see you and that can be challenging at times- but well worth it. I am essentially an introvert and theatre allowed me to be out fully and powerfully in front of people and have to express myself out loud, creatively, and skillfully in front of an audience because it is all about entertaining and evoking what is most human in our audience.
Performing live for others can be very therapeutic and rewarding, I promise, because you are continually challenged to stretch ever further in your development as an artist, and as a person. One of the most difficult challenges for most people is to have to get up and be yourself in front of others. We have to face our irrational fears and transcend them. And we have to be really good to keep the audiences coming in! This is what I teach.
Below are some photos from my theater album.