1. How long have you been teaching at Metro Music Makers, and what do you teach?
I've been teaching piano and voice at Metro Music Makers for a few months now.
2. What is your first musical memory?
I remember banging on a tambourine in a music and movement class as a toddler.
3. What was the first album you bought?
I bought Traveling Wilburys Volume 1. A friend's dad would play it when we drove to north Georgia for Boy Scout campouts. I liked the cool rock'n'roll sound with acoustic guitar strumming and was fascinated by all the different voices, in their solo verses and how they came together on the choruses. Tom Petty, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, and Jeff Lynne—one of the great supergroups!
4. Who are you listening to right now?
Once I started studying and making music full-time, I started listening less. Back in high school, I got really into Metallica and retro bands like Jethro Tull and Queen. College was a turn to classical: Brahms, Bach, Mozart. These days, on the pop side of things, I appreciate what a group like One Republic or Maroon 5 can pull off when they have written a really good song. For great song-writing and performance, I turn to Mark Knopfler and the vintage Dire Straits hits. I saw him perform live in Italy about a year and a half ago. Right now I'm enjoying the Disney and musical theatre rep my students are getting me into. Some really good songs in those shows. Just this week I started singing and picking out some of the great Elton John hits. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road has some sly harmonic shifts my classical heroes might appreciate!
5. Why do you love teaching?
In teaching, we are crossing out of the world of passive music-listening and into actual music-making. Most people love to listen or move to music. But not so many have the training to be able to make it from scratch. For me, music goes a thousand times deeper when it comes out of my own body instead of out of speakers or headphones. I love passing on to students the thrill of making your own music.
6. Who inspires you as a musician?
The great opera composer Gioacchino Rossini has never ceased to inspire me. I have visited his birth town on the Adriatic coast of Italy, where they have an annual festival of his music, at least seven times. If he were alive today, he could write a show-stopping Broadway number on par with the very best of them. His shows were sometimes light and hilariously funny. Other times, they were very serious and deep. I have never found another composer with the musical imagination of Rossini. He had an amazing ability to find just the right tune for a moment of action onstage or a song expressing a character's inner thoughts. He wrote many great operas by stringing together marvelous tunes, songs, arias, duets, trios, quartets and big choral-orchestral numbers in the most sublime way.
7. What musical accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am most proud of getting to the level of skill as an opera singer and actor where I could rehearse and perform entirely in all four of the foreign languages I have studied. It's very stressful but also thrilling when you can respond to stage direction in German while you are singing and doing dialog in an Italian opera, while in Austria!
8. Tell me about one of your best moments as a teacher.
My best moments are any time a student tells me the piece I assigned or arranged for them is cool, that they really like it and look forward to practicing it. A student of mine was recently playing Auld Lang Syne in honor of New Year's. He had mastered it, so I gave him a cool new chord to add that wasn't in the printed score. His face lit up with surprise and excitement. It was like I had just shown him a cool new secret compartment hidden in the floor.
9. What’s the latest in your own music world?
I am enjoying giving myself permission to "cross over" more, into musical theatre and pop songs. I always liked a lot of that stuff but never before took so much time to sit down at the piano, pick out, and sing-play my way through a Roy Orbison or Elton John classic, or a new song my students have brought me from the Frozen movies.
10. What’s the latest in your world outside of music?
I am on the verge of buying a house. Yikes!!