Monday, August 30, 2010

Call Backs

Hello everyone,

If you haven't had a chance, to the right of this post you can sign up to receive updates when I post. Or, you can just check back every Monday! Anyway, shortly after I wrote my last blog, I received an email offering me a scholarship to sing in the top choir here at UMKC. In a lot of ways it was difficult to accept, because I was part of the KSU program for such a long time. I did accept, and I will be posting concert dates hopefully with plenty of prior notice. It is nice to be in choir again; I felt like something was missing otherwise.

I had a busy first week. I am in a history class discussing pre-classicism at the moment and an advanced counterpoint class. Both are very enlightening, I am really appreciating this music more now that I'm learning more about it.

My voice lessons have been going well. I was quite embarrassed by my first lesson, but my second lesson went better. I don't usually have total collapses in my lessons, but that first lesson was bad.

I found out that the donor of my scholarship is deceased, so I will not be able to meet them. That is unfortunate, but I am very grateful for what they are providing me. I wish I could have told them how much I appreciate their help.

I am in an opera workshop class and am hearing many of the graduate singers. They have been great so far! I am excited to sing with all of them. It is a little more competitive among the students, so I hope to make friends after these auditions are over. The teachers have been fantastic though, I appreciate their help and encouragement especially Dale Morehouse, my private teacher.

The auditions began last Saturday. I am not sure what type of tenor they are expecting my voice to be, but hopefully they will find it useful and artful. I sang Dies Bildniss and the first part of Lenski's Aria. I feel conflicted by how I performed.

I have only sang in the room once before, so it was a tough sound to get used to. Dies Bildniss went ok; I probably began too timid, but I revved it up for the rest of the aria. I have been trying to close the [e] vowel more up high, but because I have not practiced that enough, it was putting strain on my voice over the long haul. To do this, I have to cough up my tongue and still keep the soft palate high. In other words, try making a big yawn, while sticking your tongue out, and saying "eee". Now try that singing a high note...not so pretty, huh? So, I made a decision to sing like I have been with a much more opened approach. It went ok. Dies Bildniss is a difficult aria for many singers. It isn't incredibly high, but the tessitura is. (tessitura = the average range where most of the aria is sung)

Then the opera director, who just got back from directing in Boston (I think), wanted to hear the beginning of Lenki's Aria. It also went ok. The parts that I am best at, weren't all that great. It was hard to hear myself, so I had to trust the feel. It was a little too heavy and probably a little dark. I was called back for Tuesday evening auditions, so if I am going to sing that again, I will be sure to brighten it up a little bit to allow extra resonance to shine through.

In KCVI news, I have exciting news that Oleta Adams (R&B singer) and Lewis Spratlan (2000 Pulitzer Prize winner in music) are donating to help create a scholarship in their name! There is a lot of news and press coming out in the coming weeks. Hopefully, more will become interested and more kids here in Kansas City will be able to have lessons.

Tuesday - UMKC Opera Call Backs
Saturday - K-State vs. UCLA (that's right, we have season tickets!)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Yet Another First Day of School

Well, school has started again only this time at UMKC. I am used to associating my school with vicious mascot species - eagles, panthers, wildcats - but have yet to understand the ferocious nature of the Kangaroo. I know they "box", but seriously, there are some strange mascots as you move east on I-70 - ichabods, jayhawks, and boxing kangaroos.

Well, my music classes will hopefully be very useful and not too overbearing. I am anxious to start singing and performing. I have quite a list of auditions that I am applying for besides the university opera auditions of course. I have not heard anyone yet, so I am excited to hear some of the singers and tenors to see where I fit in. I am very excited to have so many people who share the same passion as I do.

I have been working hard with KCVI. It is growing and every day now I get requests from people wanting lessons. I am really excited about one person in particular, Dr. Anne Walker-Willyard! She is Mr. Walker's daughter. Mr. Walker is the former choir director at K-State. She is back in the area and has some really great ideas about elementary school voice classes. I have been talking to area companies, Sprint, Applebee's, and Russel Stover's about providing scholarships for kids. Hopefully something will come of that. Plus, to those at UUMC in Salina, KS, Jordan Smith and I made a CD with many of the solos that I sang while I worked there the last 3 years. I will make quite a few copies and they will be free with a suggested donation of $10. The money from this will go directly to providing music lessons to children who cannot afford it here in the Kansas City Metro Area.

I plan on updating every Monday and letting everyone any events coming up.

Saturday - August 28: UMKC Opera Auditions

Other things happening soon: Kansas City Civic Opera Auditions, Kansas City Metropolitan Opera Auditions

Thursday, August 12, 2010


It has been a while since I last updated everyone, and a lot has been going on. I was the administrative director of the Summer Choral Institute in June. I have been a part of it for ten years now, and this was the first year I was able to be the admin, and it was so much fun. It was a lot of organizing, but the staff members were amazing, Drs. Yu and Oppenheim are incredible, and the students we invited had an unforgettable experience, and that is what mattered the most to me.

I have since moved to Kansas City. I will be starting my Doctorate at UMKC next week and will begin the fall audition season again. Only this year, I won't have to bother auditioning for schools - it's a lot of paperwork. I miss Manhattan and the people there, but I have many friends in KC that I am excited to see as well.

Last Winter break, I realized that by the time summer came around, I would be out of a job and freaking out - because I am a workaholic. Since I wouldn't have an office job at UMKC, my wife got a full time job, and my scholarship was very generous I decided that I could finally build up a private studio. This would help me with teaching skills, give me some extra money, and fill up some unwanted free time (my worst nightmare).

So, I decided to find people using the internet and offer a pretty cheap price compared to a lot of the KC studios. Well, my studio grew very quickly and there were still people wanting lessons. So, I decided I could offer to find students for other studios for a small price and send them off to other teachers. I just don't have the time to teach so many people. I then launched a website (Kansas City Vocal Institute). If you visit today, you will see that we are looking for students to fill voice studios and there are diction, composing, and theory tutors as well. It is going very well, there are 17 teachers involved currently!

Along the way, I was looking into grants for myself to help pay for travel expenses for my auditions, when I started getting requests from musicians to offer more than just voice lessons and music tutoring. They were asking to help them find students for various music classes, science classes for children, performance coaches, and even teach Italian language classes. I thought that perhaps some of these were getting a little too far away from a "vocal institute". But, that got me thinking that there were really qualified professionals in Kansas City wanting to teach and there are so many children in the area that would love lessons but can't afford them.

I talked to several teachers to see what they thought if we would give free lessons to kids who really can't afford music lessons. But that wouldn't benefit many kids because the teachers cannot afford to give many free lesson. So, I looked at getting grants to start a non-profit organization to help pay the teachers so more kids can have free lessons.

There were some pretty small grants that could be awarded if we could become a non-profit but in the end, it was nothing that we could use immediately. So we applied to become incorporated and started the KCVI Music Education Charities to help raise money to give underprivileged children scholarships for free music lessons, not just voice. The website is I then asked several area charities to see if they may be interested in helping us out; I just wanted some ideas. That got around to Evan Luskin at the Lyric Opera. I told him what we were trying to do and I asked them about sponsoring a fundraising event to help generate some scholarships for these kids. They said that would be great, so starting in September we are going to have an online event to help raise funds for this. The contributions will go to providing free voice lessons for underprivileged children and to the music education programs at the Lyric Opera.

So, lessons are starting, we're sending out information to the high schools in the area, and many other teachers and businesses have been contacting me about partnering. If you are interested in helping, just go to and click the "participate" tab to see what you can do to help. It is a really exciting time, and hopefully many people will benefit from all of this. I, for one, am learning to delegate!

I will be updating often so check back soon. And, if you're in the KC area, give me a call - I would love to hang out!

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