Thursday, December 15, 2011


Sitting in a balcony seat in the intimate Scottish Rite theater in Oakland, I was texting a friend backstage who had been hired on for Makeup.  She was telling me about how the cast and crew was doing a spiral dance back stage before curtain.  As I pondered how they could make that work in the small back stage areas of a theater I could feel her energy and anticipation as the lights came up on an absolutely amazing set.  A projected celtic knot lit up the back of the stage and from the first note I was hooked.  Little did I know how that show would make such an impact on both my musical and personal life only a year later.

The show was the annual California Christmas Revels (  The theme that year, 2010, was Irish Emigrants at the turn of the 20th century.  The music and ambiance of that specific show hit very close to home for me as a descendant of Irish emigrants myself and my deep seeded love of anything Celtic and the the strong ancestral memory of my Irish heritage. I sat in awed silence as the Chorus created delicious harmonies and took us on a journey to a time and place not of our own.

Right before intermission they performed a song "Lord of the Dance," which is something I now know is a favorite tradition of cast and audience a like.  The lyrics and music were moving but what brought me to tears was how after the last verse was sung, the chorus came out into the audience and danced with us.  We spiraled down the stairs and into the lobby in serpentine spirals and shared a joyous celebration of the Holiday season with total strangers!  There were no boundaries of religions, race, or age.  And it didn't matter if you could dance in time or sing on pitch.  ALL were welcome and were part of the celebrations.

The music they sang brought tears to my eyes and I knew almost immediately that I belonged ON that stage...on the other side of the lights, not up on the balcony!  And when the lights came up after the show ended,  my husband and a couple of my best friends turned to me and said "You HAVE to audition for next year!"  I was also threatened with butt-kicking if I didn't ;)  So I joined the email list.  And I watched my inbox diligently for the audition announcement and when that email came, I called the chorus manager immediately to set up an audition time.  Apparently my excitement sounded through the phone line because she giggled and said that I was the first one to call so I had my choice of days.

I went into the audition nervous as always but ended up more relaxed than most auditions I've gone to.  In retrospect I think it was because the Chorus for Revels is made up of volunteers who do this show for the love of it, not for a paycheck or for a nice reference on their resumes.  And the vibe I got immediately was the sense of "community" that surrounds the Revels.  I felt welcome there.  Not like a competition of Diva attitudes that I normally encounter at an audition.  I chose to sing an a capella version of my favorite Irish balad "She moved through the Faire" and apparently made an impact because they invited me to join this year's show!  And this year's Revels was going to take place in the court of King Arthur!  It wasn't a paying gig but I still wanted to be a part of it.  It was a need that I can't quite explain.  Yes, it'd give me experience, and give me a good notch on my resume, but it was so much more than that.  It's a group of people who come together to share their love of music and to give the gift of music to as many people as they can.  To enrich other's lives both audience and cast a like.  It's a big family made up of musicians of all calibers.

Fast forward to October.  Our first rehearsal was actually a full Saturday "retreat" where we gathered in circle to meet each other, get a rundown of the show and share potluck.  By the way, that was the first potluck of MANY more to come.  These people LOVE to eat and share their creations with each other let me tell you!  And being a serious foodie myself, I felt totally in my element.

October and the first part of November was just once a week music rehearsals.  Then mid November it started to get crazy.  You see, this show is different form a lot of staged shows I've been in where the Chorus usually has a small "accented" part to the entire show.  Here, the chorus IS the show.  So rehearsals were long and tiring.  But very worth it in the end.  The music was challenging but not so much so that I had a hard time.  Memorizing was a beast at first for me however, due to the old english and archaic French which is SO different from what I've been taught in both French class and vocal diction classes but I made it through and even managed to get a part in the quintet "Ah Comme C'est Chose Belle" sung a capella to a departing Sir Gawain.

We rehearsed...a LOT.  We shared meals, gave back rubs, geeked out about music and books etc, took naps, ate some more and became a huge part of each other's "circle" in a few short weeks.  Everyone there opened their arms to me and made me feel so much at home that I now want to Revel all the time!  It would take a tome to tell the story of my experiences there and there is a lot you just can't explain to someone unless they are a part of it.  One of the Reveler's told me to be prepared for post-revel let down.  I kind of shrugged it off and laughed.  But oh my god was she right!  The day after the last performance, I felt a void.  This HUGE thing that had become such a part of my life was suddenly done.  I had no idea what to do with myself!

Luckily, I am not going to have to wait til next September to Revel more.  I have decided to be a part of the California Revel's Solstice Singers who do gigs all year round.  The group is a smaller subgroup of the big Christmas show but definitely not lacking in talent, camaraderie and love.  The family that is California Revels, is now part of me and I can't tell you how grateful I am to now be part of that family!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The State of Music Education, A Rant

As a preface to my rant, I just want to say that I know this is a long debated subject, not without pain and points valid on both sides.  But I have to vent.  Music education is very important to me and is a topic very near and dear to my heart and something which has largely formed who I am today.  I have to say something about its decline and seeming downfall or I'm going to burst! 

I started cultivating my musical part of my personality from a very young age.  I would dance and sing to any kind of music as far back as I can remember.  (One of my favorite memories is when I was finally old enough to be at home by myself, I would wait until my parents drove down the driveway, then I would turn up Phantom of the Opera and I would sing along.  I would become Christine in my mind and I would act out the whole part, line by line, and sing my little heart out and ham it up and dance when not singing.)  I begged my dad for a long to take music lessons and he finally let me take lessons when I was in 3rd grade I think?  I can’t remember exactly when.  I started with the dulcimer and piano.  Unfortunately due to a lot of different circumstances, my father was unable to keep me in lessons.  But as soon as music was available to me in school I jumped on the chance.  I joined the band in 6th grade, quickly joined choir and every other ensemble and group I could find.  I became THE band nerd in our school(which wasn’t hard given the size of our school), and by the time I graduated High School I played Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Piano, Dulcimer, was back in private vocal lessons and I sang in two choirs including a local community choir.  I was part of the theater at school as well as community theater and improv groups and had attended regional music camps, was accepted into regional honor band two or three years in a row and had gone on trips all over including the UK.   

When I got into college I originally had been ‘undecided’ on my major but after my Freshman year, I did some soul searching and felt like music really was where I belonged.  I ended up a vocal major but I was still involved in the band and I was in several ensembles.  Our chamber choir performed at various festivals, CMEA, and even Carnegie Hall!  I graduated with 3.6 from a Liberal Arts college and made the music department’s Honor’s Recital my senior year.  I can honestly and truly say that music is such a huge part of me, I can’t imagine my life without it.  And the experiences that I’ve had being a musician are things I would never trade for anything!

I had planned on becoming a music teacher but at the time, I was very low on funds and the State of Colorado kept changing its requirements every semester for an Ed degree and I would’ve had to be there for 3-4 more semesters than I already had.  I made the difficult decision to not pursue it anymore.  I have often regretted that decision and am seriously thinking of going back to get my credential.  But, I’ll illuminate more on that later.  

Now, my heart is breaking as I’m watching Music programs being cut around the nation.  This is not news.  For decades when school’s face budget cuts, the arts are usually the first thing to go.  But it’s getting more frequent and I know so many music teachers right now that have been either completely laid off or their hours severely cut so that paying their bills of their salary is pretty much impossible.  More importantly however, children and teenagers are going without music education because of these cuts.  Most families cannot afford to put their children in private lessons and so the only exposure they have, is through school or after school programs and so now so many kids are not exposed to the joys of music at all!

To be fair, I do understand that most of the time the schools have no choice in the matter and music isn’t the only thing to be cut.  Especially when ridiculous programs like No Child Left Behind get written into the picture.  But what gets my blood boiling is the fact that most of the schools that cut music, art and theater have a very active sports program.  I do understand the importance of physical activity especially in todays age where childhood obesity is a problem, however there is so much money that goes into these sports programs that could easily be dispersed among other programs as well.  There are scientific studies that show how music and the arts contribute to overall intelligence, growth and development in discipline and other overlying life skills.  I’m not saying sports don’t contribute some of that as well, but it seems to me like a good chunk of people think sports are so much more important!  It boggles my mind...

When I was in college our 30? person Chamber Choir was invited to come perform in Carnegie Hall.  We hadn’t applied to the program and this was before it was what “everyone was doing.”  We were that good.  But the school wouldn’t help fund our trip.  We had to come up with almost $1500 a person and so many of us were poor students who just did not have the means.  We did a lot of fundraisers and we asked the school to help pay for new dresses and tuxes as the ones we had were 20+ years old and just awful.  But the Dean was able to get us enough money to pay for part of our food and our bus just to the airport but that was it.  We had to pay for our new clothes ourselves in addition to plane tickets and hotel and anything else.   We later found out that the Football team, (who hadn’t won a single game like almost 5 years btw) had received brand new uniforms that fall...and had received brand new shiny uniforms EVERY YEAR for like 15 years!  Not only that but every away game, they got their bus paid for, all their food and hotel at no cost to the student.  What?  We get a once in a lifetime chance to go sing in New York at CARNEGIE HALL of all places and we didn’t get squat...and we didn’t even ask for more than a few new uniforms.  How the &^#% is that fair?!  *sigh* I’m not bitter or anything...  

In High school and middle school, even though the scope wasn’t as broad, we faced the same problem.  The sports teams often got everything paid for all the time, while the music, art and theater departments had to scrounge for a way to have their programs at all and our families still had to pay for our instrument rental, clothes, trips etc.  I am aware that the sports teams had to have some of their own fundraisers as well but overall, they were still favored over any other art program.

I had the opportunity a week ago to go do a presentation at a local elementary school about computers but I had ended up staying briefly for some of the meeting on their music program for the year.  They were lucky they HAD a music teacher and their program sounded pretty cool for the year, especially since they were going to be taking part in an new educational program through San Francisco Opera where the kids get to go in and learn how Operas are written and staged and produced and get to put on their own production.  It sounded awesome and made me wish I had had something like that when I was in elementary school!  HOWEVER, the teacher that were there seemed so apathetic and like she really didn’t care.  I was talking with a friend who knew the teachers and the school and had told me that most of the time the teacher’s idea of doing a music class was showing a video or playing a CD...and that was it!  I thought maybe it was just frustration on their part of not having many resources and the often unappreciation of music and the arts by other teachers, but apparently that isn’t the issue here.  She’s a performer and teaching because she “has” to...not because she “wants” to.  I know that a lot of music teachers are in education because performing really doesn’t pay enough, but if you have THAT kind of attitude about being a teacher, you shouldn’t be there. Period!  They themselves were once music students right?  How can they be so uninterested in passing that same knowledge to prospective new musicians?  It’s no wonder the programs are getting cut if there are other music teachers out there with that same apathetic attitude!  I don’t have my credential but if I did I can guarantee you if I went in to that school and gave them a proposed curriculum and showed my love of music and kids, I would have her job in a heartbeat!

Since that meeting, I’ve been seriously contemplating whether I want to try and get my credential anyway.  I know I would be a good music teacher if there was a place for me.  California is a little different with credentialing.  It's a little easier to obtain and I can go in and teach at private school without a credential anyway as long as I have a degree.  The state also has intern programs now that help me earn a credential faster and often while I’m already working.  I’m going to look into it some more and see if its something I want/think I can do. (Of course my back injury is an issue and something that needs careful consideration.)  If that isn’t an option however, I did also find another volunteer program that helps bring music to schools outside of their regular curriculum in after school programs.  I wouldn’t be getting a paycheck but I think it would be an awesome program and I would love to be a part of it knowing that I am helping expose kids to the joys of music.  I feel a calling that I need to be doing “something” to help with the continuing growing music education crisis.  I want to share my love of music with other growing minds and hearts.  Nothing is quite as satisfying to me as seeing a child react to music in a positive, excited way.

Friday, August 19, 2011

When health issues get in the way

I have been kind of off the radar for quite awhile due to a recent VERY bad flare up of my degenerative disc disease in my lumbar spine.   I have been out of commission for almost two months this time and has made my life pretty much completely come to a halt. Again...

My back issues have been something I have had to deal with for several years now and due to the nature of my injury, it will ALWAYS be a problem of one degree or another.  Even with the best possible outcome, I will still have some pain and immobility probably for the rest of my life.  This of course sadly puts a serious damper on my ability to perform and commit to shows etc.

This spring I was in the chorus for Carmen Fixation at Berkeley West Edge Opera.  I was SO excited to be a part of this show and worked hard to get in.  About a week before we were to open, my back started to misbehave and ended up having to back out of the show.  I was devastated.  I felt like not only was I letting the cast and crew down, I was letting myself down too.  I have wanted SO much to perform regularly and work my way up to bigger roles and shows etc.  And with Carmen, as well as a bunch of other shows and performances that I've had to back out of over the years, I feel like there's no way I can fully be where I want to be musically.  Its depressing and frustrating and I don't know what to do....

I recently had to make the decision to not audition for BACH this season.  With my recent bout, I had no idea if/when I would get better enough to be able to commit to the shows and rehearsals.  This made me very sad as I was really enjoying performing with them and the upcoming years lineup looks like so much fun!  *sigh*  I was accepted into the Chorus for Christmas Revels this year which was a huge thing for me.  I haven't officially backed out of that show yet because I keep hoping that I'll get better enough to continue.  But there is always a chance that I will have to back out later anyway.  There just is no rhyme or reason to when its going to act up and how bad etc.  Its SO frustrating!

I went in for an epidural injection yesterday in hopes that this will help enough for me to get to where I can do more strength training and PT to hopefully keep more discs from herniating.  There is the possibility of surgery down the road if the epidural and further PT don't help, but even then, the success rate is only like 75%.  If the epidural helps then I am hopeful that I can carefully start to get into a fitness routine again and continue to lose weight and hopefully keep my back at a manageable pain tolerance.

I know that there are people with disabilities out there who perform regularly.  Its not like I have to put my music career completely on the back burner, but when I'm in so much pain I can hardly walk, how can I even begin to think of being able to be on stage or at long rehearsals etc.?

I don't know what to do and I feel like I will never have a chance at performing professionally because of my 'disability.'  I don't want to sign on to a show only to have to back out later and be looked at as a flake...but I don't want to give up completely!  Music is my life...but how do I integrate it into my life successfully when I'm so compromised from pain?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

How's it going?? Well...

I know I said I'd update like every week and I know that has NOT been the case.  Our apartment was burglarized in February and included in the things that were stolen were BOTH my laptops which has made sitting down to write hard for me because I don't do well sitting at Tyson's desk for very long.  And life has been crazy and I haven't been in the right mind set to sit down and, yeah.  But I got a new laptop this weekend and with it a new motivation to start writing again.  So here I am :)

Anyway, on to the music stuff!  

Things...are going.  I have been taking lessons at an average of about every other week or so.  Unfortunately I can't afford much more than that at the moment.  I would LOVE to go every week, in addition to periodic coaching but I just can't do that right now.  There's this thing called eating??!!  But I've made a great deal of progress and am quite pleased with how my voice is shaping up.  I have a LONG way to go before I would consider auditioning for any leads but I'm definitely way more polished than I used to be.  I have extended my range by quite a bit as well as my projection.  It's actually  really hard for me to NOT be loud anymore.  Holding back to blend is hard unless I have other voices similar in tone and volume to mine.  I've actually been told by a few people that that kind of holding back can be damaging to my voice!?  I'm not sure how true that is.  I can tell however, that when I do have to hold back constantly like that, it tends to make me revert to old habits which is counterproductive to all the world I've been doing with my teacher.

I made the tough decision in January to leave my women's chorus Voci for the moment.  I have had SO much going on in my life that made commitment to rehearsals very difficult.  I have had to deal with stuff regarding my Grandmother's house/health back in Colorado and wasn't sure if/when I'd have to pick up and leave so it was better to just not put the group through that if I had to leave.  Since then, things have calmed down a bit and I was asked to join in B.A.C.H. (Bay Area Classical Harmonies) again for a concert series that only required minimal rehearsals and I felt like I could do that, at least for now.  I am one of only three Mezzo's in the group (unless we've managed to miraculously find more in the last few days) and overall the group is quite small.  It's challenging but good for me!  We are singing three concerts at the end of May and beginning of June that includes works by Barber, Bruckner and Bach among others.  It's been fun so far and I'm looking forward to the concerts.  I have loved getting my voice ready for solo work but I still love the feeling of being in a cohesive chorus that makes my skin tingle when the harmonies lock in...*shiver*

I have two big auditions set up for June that I need to get ready for.  One is for San Jose Opera's chorus. The position is small, but paid.  So I could justify the drive for rehearsals.  That one I honestly don't expect to get in on my first try.  BUT ...I want to at least try.  I promised myself a year ago that I would start auditioning, just for the sake of auditioning.  No matter if I think I can get in or not, to give myself practice and get myself used to the process.  Also to give myself NO excuse to NOT practice!!  If I have seeable goals ahead, it's easier for me to sit down and actually practice rather than just the mundane every day scales and vocalizing.  The other audition is for the California Christmas Revel's.  Ever since seeing it last year I wanted to be on that stage SO BAD.  It's not a paid position and the rehearsals are long I hear but so worth it.  I think it would just be awesome to be able to experience that and to be able to put it on my resume.  I also know a couple people already in the show and I think it would be great to be able to work with them.

So things are going.  Slow, but sure.  Practice is frustrating as always but I'm getting more used to making it an every day thing.  I just need to keep figuring out the most effective way to practice so I get the most out of my time.  Definitely an ongoing process.

Monday, May 2, 2011

New Studio

Our long-time friend and roommate recently moved out and I've decided that I'm going to turn his old room into an office/studio for me to start giving music lessons and also have a better space to practice in.  This seemed like an easy enough project when I was first thinking about it, but I have come across things I didn't think of before that I now have to consider.  This is going to be more work than I originally thought but I think but it'll be worth it!

I do not have a real piano unfortunately.  I have a pretty nice Yamaha keyboard that I think will work just fine for what I need it for.  The one major problem though is that I've noticed my piano skills have gone WAY down hill since I was in college.  And they weren't that great to begin with.  I knew enough to competently pass my Piano proficiencies but that's about it.  And the Piano is one of those instruments, that at least for me, that if I don't practice daily, I lose the skills real fast.  I know enough to easily plunk out chords and such for my own practicing but when it comes to helping others, and accompanying someone...forget it!  I think piano is something else I need to make sure to add to my daily practice.  Otherwise, giving lessons to others is going to be very challenging.

I think I also want to offer clarinet lessons in addition to voice but my clarinet is in serious need of refurbishing.  It needs new pads, new corks, tightening, oiling blah blah blah.  I called around to see how much it would cost me and I didn't get a quote below $200.  I'm poor...that is a lot of money right now.  It might have to wait until I can get some good money from voice lessons.  I also thought I could maybe do some beginning Piano too but going back to #1, I am just not that confident in my own piano skills to foresee giving someone else lessons on it.  That will definitely have to wait.

I need to get one more bookshelf so that I can put all my music and theory books etc. in one place.  Not that big of a deal you would think...but when you are as broke as we are, even a little money to buy a bookshelf can be difficult to come by.  I'm going to see if I can hit up some garage sales this weekend and check Craigslist and Freecycle.  If anything I can head to Ikea and see if I can get something small.

I need my own desk.  I'm currently using the kitchen table as a desk and if I'm going to be pretty much running a business from home, I need something more functional.  Again, I'm poor.  A new desk is money I don't necessarily have at the moment.  So again with the garage sale, freecycle, craigslist thing.  I need something I do all my paperwork on, book keeping etc. and a file cabinet to hold student records etc.  DONE!  :)

The business side of things is where I start to flounder.  I know I need to get a good bookkeeping program for my computer and get the file cabinet etc.  But I just thought of the possibility that I will probably need a business license now.  And then there's taxes etc. and and and....I really feel like I have no idea when it comes to that part of it.  I guess I need to start doing some serious research into it and talk to my other friends who give lessons and see how they handle it.  I just want to make sure I don't make any big mistakes.  I have a pretty good idea how to run things on the business end of the food industry since I've been doing cakes for a few years but this is a new field and I'm not sure how alike and how different things run.

Publicity.  I need to really think about how I'm going to advertise.  Of course there are flyers at schools and music stores etc.  But I need to decide if it's worth it to pay for other avenues such as FB ads and newspapers etc.  Of course there is Craigslist.  But I think a lot of what I'll have to rely on is word of mouth like I have done with my cakes.  I am going to probably start another FB page for my teaching services.  I had business cards set up but they are out of date now as both my phone number and address have changed.      

And then there's the issue of letting people into my home.  After we were burglarized, I've become really antsy when it comes to letting semi-strangers into my house.  Hopefully this will fade in time but I'm having a hard time getting all of this started because of that reason.  The idea of someone in my home that I barely know, regardless of the fact that they are beings supervised by me, makes me twitch honesty...


Saturday, February 5, 2011

10,000 Hours...Seriously??!!!

I recently read an article that stated that ten thousand hours of practice seems to be the magic number for mastering something.  Wow...ten THOUSAND hours...o.O a LOT!  I couldn't even begin to tell you how many hours I've practiced over the years.  I never thought to actually count!  And as most musicians will tell you, there isn't really such thing as "mastering" your art.  That's part of what makes it an art.  You are always learning and even the most accomplished and famous musicians STILL practice and take lessons etc.  Their styles and technique are always evolving and changing.  So, in light of that I will take the ten thousand hours mark as a point of "beginning" the ever changing journey of being a Master rather than the ultimate pinnacle.

So, lets start with a VERY rough estimate of around 1000 hours in Middle and High School.  A rough average of 2000 hours in college based on an average of 4 hours a day between my own personal practice and lessons and classes plus a few extra on weekends when I had performances and my senior recital.  I took a few years off of not doing much at all other than singing in my car and the shower.  That doesn't really count does it? And let's say another 500 over the last three or four years with the choirs I've been in and my recent re-dedication to singing.  That leaves me with a total of only 3500 hours so far.  NOT EVEN HALF...(thud)  If I average three hours a day during the week, and the occasional extra on weekends for performances and such, I can estimate (total rough guess) that I might achieve 1000 hours a year IF I seriously dedicate myself to that time every day.  Though to be honest, three hours a day is a lot for me at the moment and hard to schedule all the time.  And really...IS three hours too much or not enough for a singer?  I've been singing all my life yet I feel like I have absolutely NO IDEA how to effectively practice on my own.

I keep telling myself that it isn't too late to really start striving for a scheduled long practice time every day but it makes me wish I wouldn't have taken so much time off after college.  Cause I have a LOT of catching up to do!  I'm honestly not going to really count my hours and count down the days until I become a Master.  That's just silly. And in the long run it's not the end numbers but the actual journey and tangible results along the way that count.  But I am, however, quite behind considering where other's my age are in their careers.  There are things that I'm working on in lessons that I "should" have conquered during college or shortly after.  And like I said before, I feel like even though I've been doing it for years, I really feel like I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to effectively practicing.  How long every day should I strive for?  I know that warm ups are integral, but then what?  Should I break up my practice time into sections?  Warm ups, vocal exercises, sight singing practice etc.?  How long should I spend at each thing to make it worth my time?  My practice sessions have always been very random after I warm up.  No real structure.  I really feel like I can be doing more and being way more productive.

I'm thinking I need to schedule each section separately.  Write it out on my calendar.  And then as I go along, as I figure out what needs more work etc. I will shift around scheduling.  And I'm going to start on the low end of time and then as I condition my voice more, I can add more time.  So...we'll see how it goes?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My lot in this life...

I have always been a musician at heart.  As far back as I can remember I would blast any Music I could find and dance around the living room singing as loud as possible.  One of my favorite memories is singing along with my grandmothers vinyl records when I was little.  I feel like I was partially raised by Judy Garland and Bing Crosby. :)
In middle school I decided to join band and then the choir and then I was told in High School that I had a serious untapped talent and that I should take lessons and pursue it.  I was taken back at first.  "ME?? Really good at something?  You're just setting me up for humiliation aren't you?" choir teacher was insistent and I eventually convinced my dad to let me take voice lessons.  I started private vocal lessons and within a couple months I was singing solos at every concert.  I completely fell in love with singing and went on to earn my B.A. in Vocal Music from Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO.

I diverged a bit from the musical path for a few years in pursuit of a Pastry Chef career because I figured that it would be a better suited career to actually earn a living but due to a permanent back injury that has made it pretty much impossible for me to work full time in a bakery and general unhappiness of not having music in my life, I have now decided that it's time to go back to my first love; Singing!  I've felt in the bottom of my soul for a long time that I want to do this professionally. is really more of a NEED.  But for the longest time I thought it wasn't the best move because its so competitive and hard to make a decent living.  But I've started to wonder if the back injury was the Universe's way of telling me that I was on the wrong path.  That regardless of what the pay was, this is what I was "meant" to do!

So...last year I decided it was time.  I sought out a choir and recently started up vocal lessons again with an AMAZING teacher.  (I will elaborate on a later post.)  And I can tell you, I could only be happier with my choice if I could find some paying gigs that would help pay the bills.  BUT... that will happen eventually and in the mean time I am going to start a music studio of my own to teach voice, beginning piano and clarinet.  I have been in the Chorus for two different Opera productions and have started to open doors and networking for more in the future.  With hard work and persistence, I will eventually be able to start auditioning for lead roles.  I have a possible audition for a paid choir position and I hope that goes through.  And even if I don't get the gig, I can say that I've tried and move on to other opportunities.  I am getting braver with auditions and I am really excited to see what other wonderful things my future holds for me :)