USA trip

Arriving in Winchester!

After a wonderful holiday with my husband John I am settled in to my little apartment in Winchester, Virginia. I will be here for around 10 months while I do my PhD research. I’ll be based at Shenandoah Conservatory, and I am very excited to be here. For the last few days of our holiday together (our first without children in four years!) John and I enjoyed New York, seeing musicals and catching up with friends, as well as watching his colleague Crispin swim around Manhattan to raise money for secondary breast cancer! Over 10 hours of swimming! he has only a bit to go to reach his target of 4000 pounds – if you’d like to donate go here. It was amazing to watch him battle the Hudson River, and to be there at the end (I was cheering like a maniac! There were 15 swimmers, and I think I managed to see about 12 of them finish!)

I hope all my students are going well with their teachers and keeping up the practice! I miss teaching – it’s been six weeks since I closed the studio and it feels VERY strange not to be teaching and living by my timetable. However, I did my practice this morning, and realised that I can take this time to sing, and I loved my practice. Now to find me a piano! I feel a little weird without one! And being without my sound system feels strange too!

I had lunch with the wonderful Brenda Earle Stokes on Friday and with the incredible Jeanie LoVetri and her husband Jerry Kaplan on Saturday. Brenda will be travelling with Jeanie to Toowoomba to present Somatic Voicework: The LoVetri Method at the University of Southern Queensland in January. I know lots of people have already registered, and I encourage those of you who want to learn more about the voice, or voice teaching and pedagogy to go along. You can get more information here.

I was so inspired to get backing practicing after seeing a couple of musicals (Anastasia and SpongeBob SquarePantsyes my second time for SpongeBob, but I truly love this show and I wanted to see it with John – thanks TDF!). Jeanie has been teaching the two leads of Anastasia, and Christy Altamore is a graduate of College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati where my colleagues and friends Pat Linhart and Wendy LeBorgne teach. The cast were wonderful.  I really enjoyed the show, even though I know it is not based on the real story, but it was gorgeous and I was right down the front and appreciated the amazing acting and singing, and the incredible skill of the whole cast. Zach Adkins was wonderful as Dimitry (Yummy voice! Fabulous acting!) and Max von Essen as Gleb was just excellent. I LOVED John Bolton as Vlad. Mary Beth Peil as the Dowager Empress was astounding – it was like watching a masterclass. And even tough I am mentioning just a few, all the cast deserve bouquets!

SpongeBob is really such an incredible, energetic, fun filled show, so bright and cheerful, and the cast are simply spectacular. It is so much fun. Ethan Slater bowled me over again, and I am again reminded of the high skill level of these music theatre athletes – they make it look so easy! Like all true athletes! Christina Sjous as Sandy Cheeks and Gavin Lee as Squidward are brilliant – but really, so are all the cast! And seeing and hearing  Jai’len Christine Li Josey sing the role Pearl is a moment. That voice. She is gorgeous onstage, and when she opens her mouth and sings, well, you know she was made to sing. Shivers down my spine. But again, the whole cast was just amazing.

Right now it is time for me to get ready for the data collection part of my PhD! Hope everyone is well, and remember to practice your singing! Vocal athletes are trained and prepared, just like olympic athletes! And remember, sing a song that makes you love singing EVERYDAY!



January is not a holiday month!

Dale with Elizabeth Benson and Auburn Music Theatre students.

I have been having the most magnificent time in the United States and thought it might be update time. As I write this I am sitting in Starbucks at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music after watching a “Vocal Athlete” class with the incredible Wendy LeBorgne. I am staying with Wendy in her beautiful home for the next few days and shadowing her (lucky me – right!) at work. For those who don’t know, Wendy, along with the wonderful Marci Rosenberg, authored The Vocal Athlete, which is a fabulous pedagogical text for contemporary voice teachers. Seeing her in action with sophomores applying the principles of exercise physiology and motor learning in practical and specific ways to ensure triple threats voices are not compromised by the incredibly physical work they do onstage in music theatre was such a privilege.

I arrived in an extremely cold New York on the 28th December and proceeded to do a music theatre binge – 7 shows in 7 days. Three of those days had no performances – so it was intense! I saw Dear Evan Hansen, Come From Away, Hello Dolly, Hamilton, Spongebob: The Musical, The Band’s Visit, and Once on This Island. A truly diverse range of productions with incredible performers. I am so fortunate. There is nothing like seeing these shows live. Every performance I attend changes me just a little bit and informs my ideas about what the marketplace is doing, what singers are sounding like.

I was hit by the massive snowstorm and was stuck in New York and extra night but managed to arrive in Orlando at Central Florida University for the magnificent Music Theatre Educators Alliance (MTEA) conference. Amazing educators, information from Broadway producers, artists, and a fantastic panel from the cruise ship industry discussing what it takes to get employed! I was lucky enough to present on the final day, after some shifting around (my presentation was originally designed for the first day), and I have made new connections and friends from this great event.

My flight to Orlando was not without drama and I arrived in Savannah with a full blown chesty cough and cold. I worked from Savannah (which had snow on the ground – a rare event) then visited family in North Carolina who promptly tucked me into bed until I was well enough to continue on!

Next to North Greenville University where I conducted a masterclass for contemporary and worship students. Voice teachers Luke Browder, Seth Killen, Mark Eshenbaugh and Cheryl Greene (Head of Department) were so welcoming, and it was great to work with their talented singers.  My next day was to include speaking with the pedagogy class and another lecture in the afternoon but a snow fall meant roads were impassable and my day was cancelled. I soldiered on, getting to Auburn in two days – allowing for ice on the roads (very scary!).

Elizabeth Benson, Mary Sandage and Dale in the Auburn voice lab!

Once in Auburn I was lucky enough to visit with Mary Sandage, amazing voice scientist working out of Auburn University. Then it was off to the music theatre department with friend and colleague Elizabeth Benson who heads up MT Voice. I lectured and masterclasses with students, as well as observing Elizabeth in the studio. It was a wonderful couple of days.

And so, here I am at CCM. For those in Australia who don’t know , this is a very big prestigious school. The graduates experience extraordinarily high placement rates upon graduation, either on Broadway or in touring productions. I’m looking forward to an afternoon observing classes, and I am very grateful to the wonderful Wendy LeBorgne, and her husband Ed, for their hospitality. Lets hope we can get Wendy in Australia someday – she is a powerhouse!

And now for the practical. I’m back in Australia early February, lessons will start either Friday 9th / Saturday 10th, depending on my recovery after the flight. I’m SO keen to get back to teaching. And study – of course – the doctoral work is never far away! Please contact me email if you need to speak before I get home – I have had some texts come through, but the time difference means that these might be coming in at awkward times! Thanks!