Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The following information covers the usual "FAQ's" If a question you have isn't addressed, here, please feel free to call, or email, at your convenience and I would be more than happy to field any questions you might have.
How many years have you been a voice teacher?
Thirty three years, as of
February, 2014. Six of those years I served on the Voice Faculty of
The University of Portland and Willamette
University, (three years each).
What “vocal technique” do you teach?
An incredible one! However, it has been my experience, when asked this specific question, that singers are usually inquiring more about what vocal “style” I teach, rather than about an actual vocal technique, (“styles” are covered in the next FAQ). I don't teach a “specifically named” vocal technique... and really very, very few teachers actually do. Voice teachers are most strongly influenced by those they have studied with, as is certainly the case for me. Therefore, what we teach tends to be an ecumenical mix of what we have learned and experienced, on our own vocal journey, from the various teachers and coaches we have studied with. My journey of studying voice began my sophomore year in high school and did so, continuously, until five years ago, at the time of Ellen Faull's passing, (Ellen was my last teacher). In total, nearly forty years of private, weekly voice study. Of the five teachers I have studied with, Bill Eddy and Ellen Faull have, by far, influenced me the most. There would be very little debate to say that they are two of the best voice teachers to have ever taught in the Northwest. I was fortunate to have studied with both in the latter years of their lives, (both in their eighties!), allowing me to glean from their decades of voice teaching experience and wisdom. I studied with Bill Eddy on a weekly, continuous basis for seven years. With Ellen Faull, I also studied on a weekly, continuous basis for a wonderful fourteen years. Of those two, Ellen Faull influenced me the most and would definitely say that it is largely her “technique” that I teach. Note: There is a brief introduction of Ellen Faull and Bill Eddy on the bottom of my Bio. Much more info about Ellen on her Memorial page.
What styles of music do you teach? (VERY important section – please read carefully)
teach, or have taught, pretty much everything...
with the exception of rapping and yodeling, (not that I have
anything against either). My own professional background is heavily weighted in
classical, operatic, but I've also preformed allot of Pop and Jazz. Like
myself, most of my singers develop the ability to perform multiple
styles... and sound right singing them.
My singers include performers of Country, Pop, R & B, Rock,
Christian Contemporary, Blues, Christian Classical, Jazz, Opera,
Choral, (there are two establish Choral Directors who study with
me), and lots and LOTS of Musical Theater performers.
Since ALL styles of music are represented in Musical Theater,
(except for, possibly, a yodeling musical), I teach performers how
to set up the correct “recipe” for the specific role and/or the
style of musical they are auditioning for. The ability to do this
allows performers to audition for a wider variety of
roles. If you look right for a role and sound right for a that
role, then your chances of a call back are much greater.
Many of my high school singers participate in the annual Thespian Regional and Thespian State Competitions. Out of the last fifteen years, there has only been two years when my studio hasn't had at least one singer selected for Thespian State, (for Solo Musical). The best of these years, two years ago, four were selected for State! All in all, six of my performers have “Showcased,” (won), at State Thespian.
On the “Classical” side, I have had numerous high school singers win their District Solo and Ensemble Competition. Last year, TJ LaGrow, a Bass from Westview High School, won the State “Bass” Division! Yet, this year, as a freshman at the University of Oregon, TJ landed the lead role (Melchior) in the highly contemporary musical production of “Spring Awakening!” His ability to set himself up with “the right recipe” made it possible to find success in BOTH Classical and Contemporary music. Over the years, dozens of my singers have been selected for All State Honor Choir and All Northwest Choir. The largest number selected, in a single year, was twelve!
Singers from my studio have performed with ALL of the major local theater companies and one narrowly missed being selected for “The Voice,” a year and a half ago! Several are currently in New York, pursuing “the dream” of a career as a Broadway Performer. All of this lengthy explanation, about "styles," is to summed up in this one point: For my singers to have the kind of success they have enjoyed, with such an incredible variety of musical “styles,” is really a tribute to the incredible vocal technique Ellen Faull brought to us form New York. It is this approach, or technique, that equips us and sets us free to pretty much do it all. Thank you, Ellen!
Do you teach both men and women and all voice types?
Absolutely. Again, the vocal technique I teach is actually the key for this. In fact, the majority of my singers are women... and all “voice types” are currently represented in my studio. Case in point: I learned more from a female teacher, (Ellen Faull), about how to be a “good tenor,” than all of my male teachers, combined. Ellen Faull, who was a world class soprano, was taught by Joseph Regnas, a contra-bass, (a super low, "beefy" bass). There are many, many examples of singers whose teachers were not of the same voice type, or gender, who went on to huge success. Possibly no greater examples of this would be Roberta Peters and Patrice Munsel. Both sopranos studied with William Herman, in New York, and both went on to stardom at the Metropolitan Opera. Ms. Peters, who made her debut with The Met at 20 years old, sang there for over 30 years. Ms. Munsel has the distinction of being the youngest singer to land a leading role, at The Met, at 18! She sang there for a few years, but then her interest turned to the Broadway Stage, as well as to host her own television show.
Do you teach women "belting?"
Indeed, I do. There is nothing wrong with "belting" except belting wrong! As a tenor, that is what I am... a belter. For those women seeking to learn to "belt," I teach them to be "good" tenors, essentially. If a woman knows how to produce the recipe for "Classical," (commonly referred to as "legit), the recipe for, "Belting," and the recipe for what i like to call, "faux belting," there are not a whole lot of "styles" they cannot perform, and sound right doing so. There a many examples today, especially in musical theatre, where female singers employ all three of the "recipes"... even in a single song! Examples: Original cast of Beauty and the Beast, Susan Egan, as Belle, demonstrates this beautifully in, "Home." In Jane Eyre, Marla Schaffel, in the title role, demonstrates this in numerous pieces... especially in, "Painting Her Portrait," and, "Sweet Liberty." Even though, "The Girl In 14g," is not from a musical, Kristen Chenoweth masterfully demonstrates this, as well in the hilarious, "Taylor, the Latte Boy". I understand and share the concern that many of my female colleagues have towards belting, as I, too, was never taught how to "belt" properly... until I studied with Ellen Faull. Any singing, be it "legit," or "belting," when done improperly, can have vocal consequences.
Is there an age requirement?
Somewhat. I normally do not start teaching singers till they are in high school, but there have been several wonderful exceptions. Allot depends on the singer and the situation. On the other end of the spectrum, there is no limit. If a singer were to be a 100, and wants to study, I would LOVE to work them! I have a number of incredible adult singers who study with me... most of which are the parents of high school and college singers I have taught. I am very proud of this, as it shows how much they respect the work I have done with their children. In fact, there have been several cases where I have taught nearly everyone in an entire family!
Does your Studio hold Voice Recitals?
I am not a big fan of the term, “recital,” as it conjures up images of something kind of, well, boring. We do Studio Concerts! The difference is that every song is performed, communicated and staged... as opposed to just standing there doing nothing, (as per "typical recitals"). Currently, there are at least four Studio Concerts planned for this year, each having a “style theme.” These “style themes” are Classical, Musical Theater, Jazz and “Misc. Contemporary.” The latter themed concert would be best described as a concert in an “Open Mic - karaoke” format, where all styles of contemporary music, (Pop, Soft Rock, Swing, Rock, Blues, R & B, Country, Jazz, etc.), can be performed. Another significant highlight is where these concerts are held. The Old Church, a beautiful Victorian church, located in downtown Portland, (SW 11th and Clay... near PSU), offers a sublime atmosphere, as well as some of the best singing acoustics in the Metropolitan area. All in all, these Concerts are festive, special events where performers can be proud to invite all family and friends to view their "performing art." By the way, I personally perform in all, as well.
How much do you charge and how long are lessons?
I have a separate rate for high school/college singers and adults. It is my preference to not post what my "going rates" are, on the website. Let's just say that my fee is very reasonable, especially for someone of my experience and background. I am also sensitive to financial need and I am willing to work with singers, on the lesson fee. I was helped along my way and feel obligated to work with those in need, as well. Certainly, I have to be able to keep the lights on, but don't let lack of money keep you from getting the help you need. Please call, or email, and let's see what we can work out. Normally, lessons are an hour long and once a week. I do have a few singers who have lessons on an every-other-week basis, due to financial consideration and/or scheduling issues. Less frequency than every-other-week is to be discourages, as it becomes VERY difficult to make progress... especially early on.
What is the requirement for payment?
I ask that lesson payment be on a “per-lesson-basis.” Payment can be check, cash or credit card. If a singer wants to pay for several lessons in advance, that is totally fine, but not required. There is no penalty for canceling lessons... in most instances. An exception to this is “no shows.” If a singer just doesn't show up, (and it is not my fault), then the singer will be charged for the lesson. Out of courtesy, I ask that singers make every effort to cancel 24 hours in advance.