I believe that a wonderful teacher is one who makes you feel good about your efforts, pushes you to be the best version of you that you can possibly be, and helps you get there, triumphing in your successes (whether its a single note hit exactly right or getting an entire song off by heart), as well as helping you through the tough times (like when you get that dreaded flu the day before your concert), inspiring confidence in their students at all times. I often still use tips and tricks that my first private voice teacher, the delightful Mrs. Traci Tornquist (who fits the description of a wonderful teacher) taught me so many years ago and recalled just the other day a lesson with her where I had one of the biggest break-throughs I ever had in my voice as a young singer- the discovery of how to properly mix the head and chest voices to create something uniquely my own.
I started studying with Traci at the age of 12 and I have never forgotten the way she taught, always pushing me to try my best, explaining the technique along the way, and encouraging me to think outside the box. The confidence boost that came with 'nailing' a particular song, or note, or difficult run, and getting Traci's approving encouragement always made me feel amazing. I try to emulate her style of teaching everyday with my own students, and can only hope that I inspire them the same way Traci inspired me.
I remember the first time Traci gave me 'Laurie's Song' - a particular favourite of mine which I have used throughout the years, and told me, "I saw this piece and though it would be perfect for you." I knew she was giving me a mighty challenge, it was a big aria, and went from the lower part of my vocal range at the time up into the top, so I had no choice but to begin to try mixing the two parts of my voice (what a big day that was for the growth of my vocal technique!!). I can distinctly recall all of the tips that Traci gave me to improve the piece. In fact, I still have the exact copy of music she gave me (with all our notes all over it!)
I performed 'Laurie's Song' at my Masters Recital last September 2012, and I certainly felt that on the night of the recital, things fell into all the right places technically. I remember as I was about to start the piece, I had Traci's voice in my head even after all these years saying, 'when you go low 'mix' the voice and don't forget to create the scene with the very first note of the piano.' It is amazing the things we take with us through life, and I find this particular aria holds such a special place in my heart as it reminds me of my family and my very first experience learning a technically challenging aria with my very first teacher. I can only hope that so many years after my training with Traci has completed, she can listen to the clip posted on the website and proudly say, "You nailed it!" :)