Why I Teach Music
When I was in high school, my mother worked a minimum-wage job while she completed a degree in English Education to become a teacher. We had just moved to Florida from New York City and we struggled to make ends meet; at age 15 I also took a minimum-wage job to help. We didn't have the time or money for me to do anything extra-curricular and it caused me to suffer academically. Being new to a town so far-removed from everything I knew in addition to the loss of my father, I also suffered socially.
However, I was lucky to find a good friend who also loved to sing and she introduced me to the music program at my high school. I auditioned nervously and soon was cast in the musicals and placed in all of the choirs, ultimately becoming a member of the exclusive chamber ensemble and show-choir, Total Sound.
With a little guidance from our choral director, I fervidly studied music theory and sight-reading so that I could sing in the All-State chorus. I studied Italian art songs for solo auditions and received Superiors for my performances, and even got scholarships towards my music education. After such accolades, I had found my purpose. My grades went from nearly-failing to nearly straight-A's and I knew I was on the right path from borderline-poverty to becoming a professional singer.
After receiving two degrees in music, many leading roles in operas and musicals, internationally-sold recordings and music videos, performances with some of the biggest names in the industry, and a successful touring career to hundreds of cities across the U.S. and all over the world, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that it all started with the music education provided through public school and encouragement from people who believed in me.
If it were not for the great people in my youth and young adulthood who led me to music, I never even would have known that I could sing because there was no other outlet for me to express my talents; we simply had no money for private lessons. So I thank every single person, including my high school choral director, the late, great, Mr. Connie Mack Perdue, who gave me a chance to shine through song. Not every kid gets that chance, especially today.
Though I am a performer, it is my duty and honor to share my skills, education, experience, and love of music with any willing child or adult. It doesn't take much to give a little of my time and energy to someone who shows a sincere interest in music; it could possibly spark new life into that person in ways we may not see but for years to come.
“I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music,
for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning.” -- Plato
These days I am overwhelmed and saddened by the numerous schools eliminating the arts, particularly music, from their academic schedules. More and more, children and youth are missing out on opportunities to express themselves through an artistic outlet, and no one seems to notice how much it really hinders a child to not have that form of expression. It doesn't matter if they want to become a professional musician or not; there is enough scientific evidence to impress upon us how music truly does improve cognition and social skills. They may not have had the same research capabilities in ancient Greece, but Plato knew what he was talking about 2,500 years ago.
Today, at my high school, they have cut the show choir that was so well-received by the community. They have eliminated the very outlet that helped to improve not just my grades but my well-being, and provided the foundation for a life-long career. Do they audition for Solo and Ensemble? No. Are they attending All-State or even All-County? No. What if there is someone like me attending that school today? And what about kids like that in schools across the country whose music programs have been cut from the budget? To most, it doesn't really matter, but to the one kid who needs it, it matters greatly.
It makes sense that poorer schools cut these programs because often the towns themselves are rather depressed and poor; the community just can't afford to support the arts in schools. Unfortunately, though, the poorer towns are the ones that need the arts the most; the children coming from these families have no favorable outlet for expression and often have behavioral problems as a result. So can we really afford NOT to support the arts in these communities? No.
If you are the parent of a child attending a school without a full music program, please contact me. If your child has expressed even the remotest interest in music, I can help and I want to help. Not only do I teach private music lessons but I can also give you information on choirs and ensembles that provide scholarships if you think you can't afford the fees. Do it for your child.