Announcement: Open Mind / Open Body: connecting the voice community through Science + Sound

NEWS: one-year DYV-iversary! - Missy Wise

February 3, 2015

It’s been one year since I officially began my work as a Voice Associate with Davin Youngs Voice…and what a year it has been!

I had only been living in Chicago 6 months when I finally scored this amazing job.  I knew I wanted to continue teaching voice (as I had been for 5 years in Louisiana) & have the opportunity to continue acting and making a career in music.  Luckily, I happened upon Davin Youngs and the amazing company he had built from scratch all by himself.  I was not only able to teach voice in a beautiful studio space, but I gained a very generous mentor.  He didn’t just take me on as an employee, but a student as well. I would have to write a book’s worth of all the things I’ve learned from him, but here are a few things that I learned this year working with DYV:

1. People are awesome.  We have the privilege of meeting and teaching some incredible people.  No two students have been alike this year.  I’ve had professional singers, doctors, actors, lawyers, medical students, child actors, military servicemen, and on and on.  They’ve been all different races and backgrounds and sing in the most diverse genres.  

2. Everyone should be singing.  No matter who comes in the door, they all have a voice.  It may be well-used or hardly ever used before.  Either way, they were born with the ability to produce sound.  Singing is an incredible release that causes you to think about your body in new ways, even therapeutic ways.  I have never had a student that did not progress after putting in a little dedication and coming with an open mind.  You can do it, too!

3. Who doesn’t love Adele? No one. Everyone loves Adele. Everyone wants to sing her songs and basically be her.

4. There’s still so much to learn.  Not only from a standpoint of growing in my knowledge of what it’s like to have a large client base and run a business, but also as a singer.  I have learned so much about my voice, about how I’m using it, about tension that I was totally unaware of because it was such a habit, etc.  The awesome thing about this year has been learning how to be a student and a teacher all at the same time.  There are so many things I’m learning personally about making freer sounds & then I get to pour out and share those things with my students.

I’m excited to see what another year with Davin Youngs Voice holds, and I hope you are too!

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DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 22

January 14, 2015

Did you know that our Acting Associate, Kathryn Bartholomew is actually a student of singing as well? That’s actually how we met… through voice lessons! It was through this process that I discovered what a great actor, teacher and coach Katie is… not to mention a lovely person!  Oh, and she can #SING too! Because of this, I thought it would be interesting to hear a bit more about her story from a student perspective because we pride ourselves on not just being teachers, but learners! Per usual, that’s enough from me… let’s learn from her!

Davin: Hey Katie! So, we already kind of know you as coach, but remind us where you’re from and what fills your day with regards to work & fun etc.

Katie: I’m from all over!  I was born and raised in Indiana, moved to Los Angeles after undergrad, up to Seattle for a couple of years, and then over to Kansas City, Missouri for grad school after that.  Once I graduated, I moved to Chicago. I’ve been here for about six years now.

My days are filled with my day job at the Shedd Aquarium, where I work in Development, as well as theatre and whatever else I can find time for. I am thrilled to be the Acting Associate here at Davin Youngs Voice, and love working with actors on a weekly basis. I act, direct, and produce theater here in Chicago. My husband and I founded Linchpin Theatre, and I am Company Manager of Oracle Theatre as well.  When I’m not doing theatre-related work (which I consider fun as well), I love to take voice lessons with you. I also enjoy hanging out with my husband and friends, my puppy, and occasionally vegging out at home watching crap tv. All that stuff.

Davin: I never know how you keep track of everything you do! Tell us a little bit about how you came to voice lessons? What made you take the plunge? Have you taken them in the past?

Katie: I attended a musical audition a few years ago after not auditioning for a musical since undergrad.  And even though I took vocal lessons and had been in choirs on and off throughout my life, let’s just say that at this point in time I had been “off” from singing for a good 3 or 4 years at least. I didn’t know who I was as a singer, and without that understanding, my song could only go so far.

When I walked into the audition room and the piano began to play, I opened my mouth to sing and was in over my head.  A huge lack of confidence washed over me. I didn’t want to feel that way again–especially about something I really love to do.  I looked you up almost immediately after that, began voice lessons, and have been taking them ever since.

Davin: Your story is not uncommon! Have you goals changed since you began our sessions?

Katie: Changes are bound to occur as discoveries are made. You go down a path, find something new, and chase it for a while until it leads somewhere else.  I like that.  Because I started lessons to become a more confident singer, I have had the luxury of enjoying the exploration.  You are a great guide in helping me discover the different places my voice can take me. I love finding new opportunities for my voice with each lesson, especially because I didn’t really even know what was possible when I first walked through your door.  Along the way, I gather the vocal confidence that I was hoping to find when I first started here.  It’s just so fun.

Davin: Now that you’re coaching acting at Davin Youngs Voice, has the experience of being a student changed at all?

Katie: I think being a teacher and being a student go hand-in-hand. I may have a terminal degree in Acting & Directing, but it is a craft I will never stop learning from.  Learning an art form and teaching an art form are great acts of discovery–whether you are guiding or not.  Those foundational elements never get old.  It doesn’t matter if I am teaching an Acting session, or taking a voice lesson–I’m strengthening my foundation and sharpening my tools.  If you choose to practice an art form/craft, you will always be a student.  As far as coaching goes, I consider that a privilege and a thrill to be able to help others on their journey of finding themselves in the craft. Students teach me as well.

Davin: So, what’s in the future for your voice?

Katie: Who knows!?  I think that is what is exciting.  Sure, I have goals along the way (build a song repertoire for auditions, experiment with musical styles, step outside my comfort zone, develop my range), but I’m also on this ride to see where it leads. It’s fun. I hope that more fun is in store.

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DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 21

January 8, 2015

Happy New Year, all! Let’s start the year off right by getting to know another one the killer singers who comes through the door at Davin Youngs Voice. Meet Vilmarie! Let me start this introduction by sharing that last time we went to Davenport’s for open mic, Vilmarie sang and as soon as she opened her mouth another student leaned over to me and said “Well, I didn’t expect that.” Vilmarie is a super cool girl with a super cool voice. Also, she’s hysterical on Twitter so check her out @villysince1986 … Let’s get to know her more and learn about how she came to voice lessons!

Davin: Hey there, Vilmarie! Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are ya from? What fills your days? That sort of thing.

Vilmarie: Hey Davin! Well I am a 28-year-old law student at DePaul University. Soon to be graduate! (yay!). I am a born and raised Chicago girl. I just can’t seem to leave the city. I’m somewhat of a Jill of All Trades. I used to alternate between being a Banker and a Nanny and a clerk for a judge.  Now I’m just focusing on finishing up school.  On my non-business days, I do improv. I graduated from Second City’s Improv program and I’m currently doing the Improv Olympic program. Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to go out and perform with my friends, but I’m hoping to get back into that. I’m also a music and movie addict so I’m always at concerts or theaters. I also started guitar lessons last year so I’m continuing with that. 

Davin: So, singing? Where does that fit into the picture? And how’d you end up taking voice lessons?

Vilmarie: I know this is often said but I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. You can pretty much say I have “musical Tourette’s.” I just blurt out a note or start singing out of nowhere and most of the time don’t realize I’m doing it.  But it does go a bit beyond the occasional random song. My dad used to be a DJ, and is now back to that since he’s retired, so he’d make me mixtapes and things like that and I would just mimic. But my “aha!” moment came when I received my first two albums that were mine and no one else’s and not just copies: “ The Bodyguard” soundtrack and “Music Box” by Mariah Carey. I would just listen and learn and know I wanted to do “that.” From then on, I’ve been in choirs and bands for most of my life. In high school I auditioned and got accepted into Gallery 37 Advanced Arts Education Honors Program in Music. (I believe it’s now After School Matters.) But it was essentially like a “Fame” type school. It was actors, singers and dancers and we were all trained in the various areas. That was amazing because I got to sing at the Chicago Theatre and perform with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and travel around the Midwest.  Most of my classes, student organizations, jobs and internships have been performance based or music related up until my mid 20s, so needless to say it is part of me. There came a time where I kind of lost sight and lost the inspiration to keep going, so I went down a different route and ended up in law school. I was unhappy and stressed and realized I had not been singing or performing at all and that perhaps that was the cause of my sadness. So I took up improv and then guitar, but singing is just who I am and a deep need came over me to get back into it.  However it is because of the improv and guitar classes that I knew I wanted to get proper guidance and training for my voice.  It had been a while and I didn’t want to jump back into it without help.That’s when I found Davin Youngs Voice.

Davin: I’m feeling musical improv, accompnied by guitar in your future! With regards to voice lessons, have there been any surprises since you’ve started sessions?

Vilmarie: Oh, absolutely. I have been hitting notes lately that I didn’t think I could. And as we’ve talked about before, it’s always been there, it’s just that muscle hadn’t been exercised.  Knowing there’s this whole little world that I haven’t even tapped into, or not often enough, is there waiting for me is exciting.   I’ve also been more focused on how I feel, or rather how the different shapes I make produce different sounds. Something so simple can have such a dramatic and effective result.  That’s been cool. 

Davin: It’s amazing how body awareness can be a game changer. What about goals? Do you have any of those with regards to singing?

Vilmarie: Because I have been singing more in group settings than solo, I always mute myself and deny the little diva inside me to come out, so to speak. I want to continue working on opening up and not self- edit or mute and just live in the moment and feel the music.  I just need to shut off the nagging perfectionist that resides in my head. 

Davin: Girl, you HAVE to get out there and sing. You’re voice is too good to keep it private. Do you have any words of advice to someone considering giving voice lessons a try?

Vilmarie: I always say that music finds you when you need it the most, whether it’s hearing a song that hits you at the right moment or if it’s a sense or need to learn an instrument as a creative outlet.  If voice lessons have even crossed your mind, it is worth exploring. Follow your heart. Follow that feeling.  It doesn’t matter if you have no background in it, or if you do. It doesn’t matter what age you are.  It is such a freeing feeling and goes beyond just wanting to sound like Whitney or Mariah.  It’s a chance to learn something about yourself and what you are capable of.  Plus sometimes it takes something different from your current routine to spark your passions, be it in music or another field.  You never know until you try and I promise it’s worth trying.

Davin: Thanks, Vilmarie! I’m excited to see where your voice takes you!

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NEWS: 2014 A Year in Review

December 31, 2014


I’m not one to linger on the past, but I’m also not afraid of a little reflection in an effort to gain perspective and set new goals. In light of that, let’s talk about 2014, shall we? It was BIG! Bigger than I imagined. I remember specifically resolving at the end of 2013 to grow Davin Youngs Voice, and thanks to so many, we did just that!

In January I began the hunt for a co-conspirator! A partner-in-crime! Oh, and someone to take on some of the many students of singing who were coming my way. By February, I had in place the magical Missy Wise and boy did she hit the ground running. Having just moved to Chicago, Missy brought to the studio some southern charm and whole lot of talent. This year, Missy worked with nearly 150 singers and their positive feedback confirmed what I already knew was true. She made some awesome videos, wrote some killer blogstaught workshops and began to establish herself in the Chicago performing community! I’m so proud to have her on board and can’t wait to see the way things continue to grow for her in 2015.

In March and April we focused on studio building, some weeks seeing as many as 50 singers coming through our door! From professional to beginner, our clients became more and more diverse which made our jobs all the more wonderful. We also made our very first Davin Youngs Voice group trip to Davenport’s Piano Bar for what has become a bimonthly open mic outing. At Davenport’s some sang in front of others for the very first time, while others were able to try out material for upcoming auditions. We’ve already got dates on the books for 2015, so we’re looking forward to more and more clients joining in the fun!

In May, I made my way to NYC for level 1 training in Somatic Voicework™, The LoVetri Method. To be perfectly honest, I was hungry to learn more, but I was skeptical about what I was getting into. That being said, my experience in NYC changed the trajectory of not just my year, but also my teaching and singing. More on this in a bit.

Back on the home front, Kathryn Bartholomew (or Katie as we call her!) offered her second workshop with us on prepping monologues for auditions. A current student of singing at Davin Youngs Voice, having Kathryn in our midst got me thinking… again, more on that in a bit.

June was all about that media! I was lucky enough to be able to rep Davin Youngs Voice on You & Me This Morning as well as on Monocle Radio’s The Entrepreneurs. What a privilege to be able to tell people more about what we’re doing through TV & radio.

We also met our very first SINGtern, Jeanne Nemcek who became such a great asset to the studio. I’m so grateful for her contributions all the way through to December! She’s on to bigger and better things now, but THANKS JEANNE!

If June was all about media, then July was all about travel and learning. At the start of the month, Missy and I made our way to Boston to participate in the National Association of Teachers of Singing biannual conference where I was the recipient of an independent teacher fellowship. We had FUN! We saw amazing performances, ate great food and learned from a lot of other people who know more than we do. It was such a fun and successful trip and one of the great benefits was getting to know my colleague as a friend!

Not long after we returned from Boston, I got back on a plane to head to Shenandoah, VA to complete my training in Somatic Voicework™, The LoVetri Method. I mentioned earlier that my time in NYC was a game changer for me. Well, my time in Virginia turned it all into a life changer. I wrote quite a detailed blog post about the experience, so I won’t rehash it all, but to have this fresh bit of knowledge not only benefited me as a person, but has already paid off ten-fold with students. I see each singer I work with making progress more quickly because my tools are more sophisticated and effective. I’m grateful!

Oh, and not to be overshadowed by all this travel, in July we really started to dig in with our voice workshops, offering two each month on topics such beginning singing technique, creating a character and belting! This is an area we anticipate growing dramatically in 2015, so be on the lookout for a workshop that will appeal to you.

In August, Missy and I made our first visit to the Night Ministry, a teen homeless shelter here in Chicago. I had been looking for a way in which we could use our talents to give back a bit, and since we were trying to up our workshop game, especially for the non-singer, this seemed like the perfect fit. We are looking forward to continuing this partnership in 2015 and are open to others if anyone has suggestions!

September was a big month for Davin Youngs Voice as our team grew to three! Remember earlier how I mentioned client Kathryn Bartholomew’s acting workshop and how it got me thinking? Yea… it got me thinking, if she’s game, she should join us! Many of the singers who come through our door also have an interest in acting, and given Katie’s experience as a student of singing at Davin Youngs Voice and in the Chicago acting scene, she was the perfect fit. Not to mention, she has a stellar personality that you’d be hard pressed not to like. Since September, Katie has offered two workshops and begun private coaching sessions. We’re looking forward to opportunities to grow her client base in 2015!

One more thing about September; I got to be on WGN Radio! Twice! Two of their hosts were going to be singing at Wrigley Field and asked if I’d come in and share some quick tips. Again, this was such a fun opportunity to share more about what we do and how singing positively impacts people’s lives!

I don’t have much to say about October other than it was our biggest month ever at Davin Youngs Voice. More people came through our door than ever before and I got a little excited about what that could mean for 2015… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Jump ahead to December and we again participated in the Fine Arts Building annual holiday open studios event. Personally, I love this event because so many come through our door! Between food, wine and caroling, it’s one of my favorites and this year was no exception. It does make me wonder about getting a bigger space, but I suppose for now it’s fun that it is cozy.

That brings us to January! Since I’m writing this on December 31st, I can’t really speak to what January 2015 will bring, but looking back on all that we’ve accomplished in the past 12 months, I’m optimistic about the next! Regardless of the specifics, I’m grateful to be surrounded by wonderful people, music and joy! Take all the rest away and I’ll still be good. Thanks to the many of you who have supported and participated in this! Thanks to Missy, Katie and Jeanne for their dedication and support and thanks to every singer who has come through our door! Oh and…

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DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 20

December 18, 2014

Hey all! I’m looking forward to introducing you to Samuel Gaines, an actor who recently came to Chicago from New York. Sam and I have been working together for a few months and I knew in our first lesson we’re were going to have a bunch of fun digging into bettering his instrument. I also think, as he will share in a bit, singing has taken on a bit of a new roles in his life and I can’t wait to see that play out. Let’s here what he’s got to say…

Davin: Hey there, Sam! Tell us a bit about yourself. Where you’ve lived? What fills your days? Stuff like that. smile

Sam: Well, I’m a Midwesterner by birth. I grew up in Springfield (as I call it “Spring-patch”) Illinois. I’m the fifth of six kids with my twin sister as the baby and we were always interested in the arts growing up. I moved to Chicago about 9 months ago (GULP) after living in Kansas City, MO for four years of graduate school followed by six years hitting the pavement in NYC. Currently I temp to make a living but other than that my days include trying to study for my personal training certificate, auditioning, performing, thinking about what to eat and when I can…Sleep lol

Davin: Eating and sleeping are good! So, as an actor, tell us why you decided to dig into singing lessons?

Sam: Well, its a combination of adding to my actor toolbox as well as fulfilling a deeper desire I’ve had in my life. Singing has always been a huge part of me. As a child I would sing all around the house. I still do. In fact, my mom tells me she knew when something was wrong because I’d be silent. I was in choirs and show choirs throughout school and even took voice lessons throughout the years. However, if I’m honest, I never thought of myself as “good” because my twin sister has one of the most beautiful vocal instruments, naturally, when I always had to work at it. So I compared and judged and for the longest time created a narrative telling myself, “You can’t sing.” As a storyteller, I want to feel more confident so I can touch more people as singing hits us in place plain words just cant. A simple lyric with the right melody can take the audience on such an amazing journey. As a person…well it opens me up and teaches me more and more about myself.

Davin: Speaking of opening up, can you tell us a little bit about what the process has been like for you?

Sam: Oh boy. Well its freeing, scary, and frustrating all at the same time lol When you have breakthroughs and start to break old habits it feels amazing. I’ve lately been able to hit notes with an ease I never had before and I find myself in awe and afraid that I can’t do it again. Yet, because I am trying to get my body to do new things it fights back. My old way of doing things is so ingrained that I go back to doing what I was doing before and it drives me crazy! lol 

Yet I will say you have really created a safe, warm and supportive lab to explore in which in turn makes the process less stressful and I’ve come to peace with the time this is going to take to make these changes.

Davin: I’m glad to hear that. That’s the goal. Have your goals changed along the way?

Sam: Well my main goal is to be able to walk into an audition and feel as though I’m not just “good” but that I can compete. If I can blend my acting ability and my singing I think I’ll be golden.  Since working with you I think the thing thats changed is I want to find more joy in the singing as well as stand in a place where I dont have to try to sound like anyone else but me.

Davin: What do you see in the future for your voice?

Sam: Technically? A fuller, warmer, supported sound. Less character. Outside of that? I would someday love to do an open mic or cabaret type night. I want to get in front of people as bare my soul through song the way I do with the written word. Oh, and I want to book a musical!

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How to successfully give and get online voice lessons

Pictured above: Singing teacher, Jill Carnay of Jill Carnay Voice

December 5, 2014

Ever since online video chatting became a viable option for most, I’ve been advocating for Internet based singing lessons. It makes sense that singers should have access to the best teachers and coaches, no matter their location. That being said, I have a bit of a confession. I never really liked teaching them. I found the communication awkward, the audio delay annoying, and the quality of the sound to be prohibitive in terms of offering really solid information. I didn’t really push it and have kept most of my business limited to in-person experience, quietly mentioning Skype etc. on the side. Until recently…

“What changed?” you ask?  Three things.

First, I had a conversation with a guitar instructor who has been having much success with his teaching and doing a lot of travel, much of which was international. Because of Skype, this guy was somehow managing to maintain his teaching load from exotic locale. Honestly, I got a little jealous. How great to be able to go where you need to go and still be available to your clients. I decided I really wanted to see if I could make this a possibility for me as well.

Second, I had a mother contact me from out west asking if I would be willing to work with her 12 year-old son via Skype. He had expressed a desire to work with a male teacher during his voice changed. As there are none in their area, they happened across my website and contacted me. Truth be told, I’m a sucker for pretty much anyone who has the desire to sing, but preteen and teen male singers have a special place in my teaching heart. I know what it is to need encouragement as a singer during that time of your life. So, with some trepidation about the Skype component, I agreed. At first, It was pretty awkward. He had a beautiful voice, but we struggled to communicate well. I talked way too much and he gave me one-word responses. After our first session I was ready to throw in the towel, but I decided to give it one more go. During our next session, I recorded the video and audio so I could dissect exactly what was and wasn’t working about the experience. I learned so much from watching the video! After spending time analyzing and experimenting with the technical logistics and then digging into our most successful bits of communication, I felt like I had new insights into how to give this young guy the best online voice lesson experience I could. I’m happy to say, we’ve been working together now for quite a while and I can’t believe his progress!

Third, I started taking Skype lessons myself. Last year I began working with a teacher in New York from whom I wanted to learn more. As my location is in Chicago and my travels to NYC are somewhat sporadic, she kindly agreed to work with me online. This isn’t something she does much of either, but I’m so grateful she was open to the possibility. Having worked with her both in person and via Skype, I feel confident that what I take away through my online lessons is just as valuable as that which I am able to glean in person. In addition, being an online voice student has allowed me to better understand the experience from the perspective of a learner.

In light these three things, I’ve come up with some tips for successful online (Skype, Google Hangout, FaceTime) singing lessons that I hope are helpful for both singers and teachers. Let’s get to it, shall we?


Here’s the deal, whether you’re techy or not, in the case of online lessons your technology is the medium. If you’re working with good technology, you’ll be more likely to have a good session. If you’re working with less than, it will probably be less than. Good technology is more accessible and inexpensive than ever, so none of what you need should be a huge stretch. In fact, you might even have most of it already.

Internet connection: As a general rule, if you want the best video chat experience, plug your computer directly into the wall. You’ll get the lowest quality when you try to use a cellular network. That being said, most of us are on Wifi, so what can be helpful is to understand the bandwidth available to you via Wifi. Skype lays out what is necessary for different types of video chat and at Cnet, you can actually measure your own bandwidth.

Camera: Good news about cameras! If you have a computer or tablet purchased within the last 5 years, your camera is more than good enough. If your computer dates back further, you might want to consider investing in an inexpensive USB camera to up your game. Here is a list of the top rated webcams from 2014. A good camera can really make the experience but it’s not quite as important as our next tech component.

Microphone: Similar to the cameras, most laptops, tablets, & phones now have pretty great mics built in. BUT, this is about singing. How your voice is transmitted to the listener can be a deal breaker if it is not clear. If you’re going to invest anywhere… do it here! There are a number of great USB external mics that are great for online video, but also could be used for recording endeavors. Many of my clients have chosen the Blue Yeti and I have to say it yields great results for a good price.

Headphones: When doing a video session, it is tempting to just use your computer or tablet’s built in speakers, and it is in fact possible.  But, based on my experience, headphones provide a far superior session for the teacher and singer. When not using headphones, your microphone will pick up sound from the computer’s speakers, which will increase delay and echo. To me, this is one of the most annoying parts of video… waiting! But, if you are on high speed Internet, you have a decent camera, a great mic and some headphones there will be virtually no delay! I’ve actually accompanied students in real time as they sang along via Skype. Your headphones can be as simple as ear buds, but like everything else, if you invest in something a bit nicer it will pay off. For singing and recording, I made a big investment in Quincy Jones Signature Reference Premium Class headphones. They allow me to clearly hear myself from outside the headphone as well as in. Most of my clients use their Mac ear buds and have a fine experience.

Additional Apps: Remember earlier when I said I recorded my session to analyze it and do it better? To me, this is one of the coolest possibilities in the online voice lesson. It’s as simple as downloading software, and hitting record when you start your session. The benefit is being able to go back, listen, watch and improve! Video in the studio during in-person sessions can be hard and students often record audio using their smart phones. This opportunity can be far superior and transformational in the learning process.


Ok, so let’s say you’ve got all your technology lined up and you’re feeling good about your future with online voice lessons! That’s enough, right? Not quite. I believe communication is an art. I also, believe that video communication is a unique art and one I didn’t used to be very good at. Through much trial and error, I’ve come up with some helpful hints that can improve how the teacher and client communicate.

Don’t be afraid of the obvious: It might seem mundane, but it is vital that before your session gets up and rolling you make sure the other person can hear and see you clearly. For some reason, people are often embarrassed to ask these sorts of questions, but just because things look and sound good on your end doesn’t mean it does on the other. Sometimes the only way to find out is ask. Further, be very specific about what you need. If the person is too close to the camera, ask them to move back. If their sound is too quiet, ask them to move toward the mic. The more specific you can be, the better your session will be.

Slow down: In general, video communication is slower than in person. Even with a great mic, camera and high speed Internet, there will be a delay in response. It is essential that you are patient with this as it is the nature of technology and also our brains as they respond to a person through this medium. Video is a filter  and although it’s pretty good, don’t rush it. Trust that if you move and speak more slowly, the other person will be able to better respond.

Ask more questions: In teaching, I try and ask a lot of questions no matter what. In teaching online, I’ve learned that I have to ask a whole lot more. It seems that my perceptions are often good, but having my client articulate more is not only helpful in their learning, but also in establishing a connection via video. This is especially the case if I’m working with someone whom I have never met in person. For a successful voice lesson to take place, the teacher and student must establish some level of trust and bond. This can be slower and more difficult via video, but the best way I’ve been able to achieve this is to ask a few too many questions. The more we share verbally, the more we can connect and learn.

One other thing: Don’t do other stuff on your computer during your session. Maximize your video screen and leave your email, chats, shopping etc. alone! It can be so tempting to just quick peak at your gmail, or quick respond to the text your boyfriend sent… but if you wouldn’t do it in front of the person (and I hope you wouldn’t) don’t do it on your computer while you’re video chatting with them.

There ya have it! Whether you’re a teacher or student, I hope these tips help you to create a more successful online lesson experience. I’m excited about the possibilities of reaching more and more clients especially from many varied locations. If you have any questions or need any help, you can always email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Also, if you’d like to try and Skype lesson of your own, just schedule a session with me or Missy through the the “schedule a session” link at the top of the page. Make sure to choose “Skype” from the pull down menu as you book.

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DYV Students: Student Spotlight Interview No. 19

November 26, 2014

Have you ever met someone you think you’d like to be when you grow up? Lynn Hauser and her husband Neil fall into that category for me. She’ll tell you a bit more, but Lynn & Neil live lives FULL of Chicago culture and art, punctuated with music lessons. We often struggle to make to get singing in during our sessons because we seem to always end up talking about the cultural events we’ve been attending. But, when we do get singing, we have a lot of fun! Let’s get to know Lynn a bit better…

Davin: Hey there, Lynn! Can you give us a quick bit about yourself? Where are you from? What fills your days? etc.?

Lynn: Hi, Davin. I’m a retired eye surgeon, originally from Ohio, but I’ve lived in the Chicago area since starting college. Since retiring from medical practice, I’m devoting time to art activities, mostly art appreciation, as in visual art shows and lectures, concerts, and theater performances, even opera. I played violin and viola through high school and participated in some vocal groups off and on. Then, about 5 years ago I started taking guitar lessons as an activity to share with my niece, and I love it.

Davin: Now, I know your husband started lessons before you did. What made you decide to take the plunge as well?

Lynn: I had been thinking about voice lessons for years, and especially after I started playing guitar at the Old Town School of Folk Music where the guitar classes sing and strum. The idea of voice lessons intimidated me, though. My husband Neil started voice lessons when he was invited to audition for a men’s singing group. I started singing with him when he practiced at home.  I asked him what you were like, Davin, and since he said you were very instructive and also very encouraging, I decided to try it myself.

Davin: How have you found the experience? Was it what you imagined? Any surprises along the way?

Lynn: I found the singing lessons to be WONDERFUL. Scary at first, but very rewarding. You are supportive and understanding. The experience has been liberating. I feel more comfortable singing in my guitar class now. I was surprised at how invigorating the lessons are.

Davin: You have been very open to the process which helps! What keeps you so committed to your music lessons? (guitar and voice)

Lynn: The thing that keeps me committed is the pleasure the music gives me. It is relaxing to practice, a stress reducing activity, even though you are working to learn. I like that the process takes me into a state of concentration that makes time seem to stand still. It is so much fun.

Davin: What advice would have for someone like you who was contemplating taking singing lessons?

Lynn: I recommend singing lessons to any one who is thinking they might like to try. It is rewarding, even if you are only singing by yourself. It’s a good feeling to hear the difference in the sounds you can make with guidance from a terrific teacher.

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Acting & Performance: The gift of curiosity - Kathryn Bartholomew

November 25, 2014

As an artist, I am naturally curious.

As an actor, I crave the chance to delve into a story.  To take-on a role within a world which may or may not have anything to do with me and my everyday life.  It’s all valuable. By doing it, I experience artistic and personal growth.

What is it that churns our empathy when watching a movie, a play, a dance piece, hear music, sing a song? What draws us in, inspires us, and enables us to believe that we know something about that?  There is a truth in the human condition that I strive not only to witness, but to experience as well.  I want to be a part of it.  As an artist,  I want to create—and NOW.

Actors are detectives.  The more clues we dig-up, the closer to the truth we get.  Those clues lead us to making our own informed choices.  Armed with a script, an actor works to ask these questions (among many others) of our characters,

“Who am I?” 

“How did I get here?”

“Where am I going?”

And the most-important, “What do I want?”

Having the experience of many plays, I can attest that the rehearsing is often not glamorous.  It isn’t filled with the adrenaline of being on a platform.  It isn’t always easy to allow yourself to throw ideas at a wall to see what sticks.  It’s sometimes difficult to take bold steps when you aren’t completely sure where you are or who you are within a play.  But being right, right off the bat, isn’t in the job description. Being curious is.  By jumping-in, trying things out, asking questions, and steeping in the world of a character we discover, we build, we learn.  We develop that relationship to what is true in the art which we can then share with others!

Artists are sleuths.
We are sponges.  
We crave the saturation of the world. 

That is the GIFT of curiosity.  It is what keeps me driving on to unearth truth in imaginary.  It is what makes me feel alive and fantastic.

Artist, I invite you to continue and explore this gift with me!


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Singing & Performance: Growth & Authenticity - Missy Wise

November 20, 2014

When you make the decision to share your abilities, there is often a temptation that seems rooted in a deep fear.  It’s this thing that I notice a lot in my students’ journeys and most definitely in my own…and that thing is trying to be something that we’re not.  To be somebody else.  To sound like some other voice.  To look like some other person. To want someone else’s results. At our core we are scared that we are not good enough, or even worse that we may be embarrassed if we expose our true selves (or true sounds) and are found wanting.

There was a theme in this week’s lessons and that theme was authenticity.  When the voice is at it’s healthiest, I hear my students say things like “Uh, wow, singing has never felt that good before”, “It felt like my whole body was an instrument”, “It was..comfortable”.  I am starting to believe that often times the tension so many of us add to our instruments can take root in our internal concept of what beautiful singing “should” sound like. The truth is (and other voice teachers can attest to this), your most beautiful sound is when your body is relaxed, tension-free, and flexible.  That’s when we get to hear who YOU are, what YOUR voice sounds like.  When you’re trying so hard to fit in the mold of your favorite genre or mimicking your singing idol, you run the risk of limitation.  You’re not taking chances on what your body can do in a more dree state.  You’re not trusting the goods that you personally possess.  You’re not opening yourself up to the possibility of growth.

This resonates not only in my personal practice time in the vocal “woodshed”, but  in my personal life as well.  If I’m being perfectly honest, I spend a lot of my time wanting to be something I’m not. Wanting to look different, to sound different, to have a different place in life.  That want may not last very long, but I definitely waste energy on it.  When I really take time to study the artists that I admire, I notice that they are all extremely genuine people.  They broke the mold. They stayed true to themselves. They are students of the world who are constantly bettering themselves. They are grounded. They know who they are, what their strengths are, & they are confident about what they can bring to the table.

I encourage you to join me in changing the way you think of yourself.  I want my singing (and everything else in my life) to be honest.  I want to be 100% myself, including all of my flaws, at all times. It’s only in the exposing of our flaws that we are aware of what needs to change.  I want to be getting better all the time…but not to be a better anyone else. To be the absolute best ME.  

Here’s to authenticity & growth. 

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