Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

We’re Running Out Of Time

Saturday, March 11th, 2017



That’s right! We’re now all going so fast that we’re running out of time! Perhaps you don’t even have time to read this!! If so, good luck, cuz there’s not much time left!!!

Left to what?

Think about it … We’re all going faster and faster to what end? Is this really what life is all about? Actually it’s a confusion of opposites. It really makes no sense that we’re going faster and faster and actually are having less time. Going faster and faster does not create MORE time; it just means that we’re going faster and faster in LESS time.

Whoa … Slow down. Take some time to relax. Read a book. Sit down for 45 minutes in front of those speakers and listen to an album, play with your kids, talk to your mate, walk in the park, sit and stare at the moon.

If this sounds old fashioned, you’re in the same trouble that I get into some times by simply going too fast and trying to get too much done.

And to what end? Mo’ money? Mo’ advancement? Mo’ done? Mo’ stress???

In defense of my own work, I’d like you to really listen to the music I create. That’s not while you’re making dinner, or are on the phone with the bank, or even in the car. Now I do know that listening to music in the car has become the preferred way for many, but between the tire noise and the traffic noise and the engine noise you know you’re not really hearing about half of what I wrote – the details of the music that I so painstakingly labored over just for you during those long hours in the studio.

There’s really so much more to the music than you can hear in the car – unless you just stop and pull over at your favorite lookout place up in the mountains.

The biggest culprits, of course, are the internet and new media. They give us so many choices that we are overwhelmed with possibilities and end up trying to do it all – and of course failing. So we go faster and faster. But ya’ know, we’ll never catch up. There’s just far too many things to do in which to spend our time.

It’s a well known fact now that nobody has time to read things on line, so we’ve learned that in order to communicate with you, we always have to make things short, short, short! But some things are just hard to communicate short, short, short! So when we do that, we figure that it will never get communicated.

Like this blog: If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably one of the few. So thanks for stickin’ with me here.

Summary: Slow down certain things in life. Take the time to enjoy life. Relax. A good balance of the two will work better. I know. I’m doing it more and more.

And if you’re still with me here, perhaps you’re one of the few who didn’t need to read this in the first place! :o)

On Fear And Aging

Monday, February 20th, 2017

A number of years ago I decided to spend some time looking at the great inevitable transition in life called death. I decided to face it head on through music. I seem to think best that way.

What transpired was an album of songs on the subject of eternal life called “Goin’ Home – On Heaven and Beyond – A Gospel Cantata.”

I recently sat down and gave the album a listen and very much enjoyed the experience. It brought up for me first a plethora of thoughts that stayed with me for days and touched inner chords that I didn’t know I had. It got me to thinkin’.

And though the album presents a totally positive view of life and transition, I let my thinking wander occasionally onto some dangerous ground. And occasionally maybe that was not so good, because I got a bit suckered into the world suggestions of aging and body and all the confusion that comes with facing the transition that I suppose each of us will make one day.

A couple of mornings I woke up to an unrest that was disturbing to me and produced a grumbling of fear and depression and even anger that at some point I would have to go through this transition. Hey, I love my life and I love being Pete and I can’t see doing anything else but staying on the track that I’m on. Yet I began to fear the future and regret the so-called inevitability of transition. It was not fun and for a guy who leads a pretty positive life, I was simply not myself for a period of a couple of weeks.

I struggled with this – not all the time, but periodically when I was not caught up in my work. I had turned to my work to get away from this fear that began to haunt me. I found that I spent far too much time thinking about it and became frustrated with myself for doing so.

Then one morning I woke up very fearful. I couldn’t seem to get on top of it as the day went on and it produced a lethargy in me that I understood was simply feeling “OLD.” Yikes!

Wisely I took my stand. I knew that if I were to keep up this kind of thinking that I would just be at the result of my thinking and I am in no way interested in slowing down in life.

One thing I know for sure is that fear of the future and regret of the past are traps that we all fall into and are simply no good for us. I also know that the way to conquer these mistakes is to BE HERE NOW.

Literally, in an instant, I applied this truth. I thought to myself, “Get out of the fear of the future and into the nowness of your life, and work, watch and pray that you stay in the nowness.” I was instantly healed of a depression in that moment and have applied this simple truth each time the bad habit has tried to reappear.

It has not been hard to do this. Being here in the now simply works. It’s the way to live. Even when I’m planning the future, I’m in the now of organizing my life in a positive way. There is no fear in the now because I’m dealing with the best of me that I can see and live. This simple step has wiped away the bad habit of the fear of aging and I am so much the better for it, so much the younger for it, so much the healthier for it, and so much the happier for it.

There’s no struggle in now; there is simply the application of dealing with whatever it is that I have to do, and seeing ‘worry’ as a waste of time and energy.

“Be here now.” Three simple words that say a whole lot on the subject of how to live happily ever after.

Listening to the album fulfilled the album’s original intention. It made me deal with my thinking and some of the weak points in the process of my approach to life. It alerted me to some slippage in my thought process that needed a greater understanding. It reminded me of the reason that I produced the album in the first place. It brought me back home to the best of me. It restored my positive energies.

So I’ve learned once again to make the best of my NOW. It works! Give it a shot.

Creativity

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

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All of us are creative people. After all we each create a new experience every day. For some, that experience is pretty much the same —  day in and day out. Get up, do your stuff, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch your program, go to bed.

For others, perhaps the more creative types, the days take on various shapes as we try to diverge from the norm, we try to expand life into an experience of greater color to keep things interesting. We re-invent our lives daily and refuse to get bogged down in the sameness of the routine. So we create things, we make it up as we go along – just as I’m doing now.

Creativity isn’t difficult. It’s actually the easiest part of life. Personally, it’s what I live for. Oh I can get bogged down in the routine just like anybody else, and when that happens, I find myself fluctuating between the edges of happiness and unhappiness. I would love to be creative all the time, but that just doesn’t seem to be possible here on Planet Earth. No matter how hard I try, the routines keep popping up.

And when they do, I find that life goes by faster, time flies, the weeks spin by and leave little memory. What’s to remember? Not much. Just the daily grind?

So I revolt. I break away from the routine. I brush my teeth differently. I try sleeping in another position. I change my schedule, try a different breakfast combination, water the grass at a different time of day, read a book in the middle of the afternoon. Get creative.

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Not all these ideas work. Some are complete failures. Others are “take it or leave it” ideas. Occasionally one makes total sense and so it becomes part of my routine. It’s a good idea that sticks.

That’s what it means to be creative. Try something new. Break the mold. Lean out over the edge. Chance to fail. Chance to fall.

Creativity often results in mistake. It has to. After all, you’re out there in no man’s land, in an atmosphere of danger, not always knowing where you’re going, rarely sure of yourself, trusting something beyond the tried and true and the routine.

You want to be creative? You have to build the muscle – the muscle that allows failure, the muscle of determination to get up off the mat and try again, the muscle to lose and yet still march on.

You have to be willing to make a mistake and then make something of it. In music, there are musicians who read the music and stick to that no matter what. Then there are musicians who improvise – who take the chance to lean out over the cliff and go where their heart and soul takes them – not their brain.

When you do that, mistakes will be made, but that’s where the muscle comes in. The muscle is the ability to turn the mistake into something unexpectedly creative, to right the wrong in such a way that the wrong becomes a brilliancy. Improvisationalists do this all the time, and they pull it off because they are rooted into the music — the chord progressions, the groove, the feel — in such a way that they are tied to the cliff and cannot fall, but rather can lean out farther and farther. Because they have the muscle of the bedrock of music under them.

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The same goes with all art – whether it’s watercolor, sculpture, or writing. Be willing to go where no soul has gone before, be willing to try the untried, be willing to fail. It’s a brave man’s game. It takes courage.

If you fail all too often, you’re liable to say, “Well, I guess I’m not very creative.” But that would not be correct. It would simply mean that you’re not yet rooted enough in your craft to lean out so far over the edge. If we fail too often, we become dis-couraged – we lose our courage. We lose our ability to be creative.

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So go back to work on your craft. If you’re a musician, practice your scales. If you’re a writer, read more. If you’re a painter, study the masters. And if you’re simply human, try reading the biographies of great people.

Study greatness. Feed your roots. The size of the tree above the ground equals the root system below. If the tree above the ground becomes much bigger than its root system, that tree will eventually die and fall over. It’s the way of the world.

“The comfort zone is the great enemy to creativity; moving beyond it necessitates intuition, which in turn configures new perspectives and conquers fears.” ~Dan Stevens

“Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something, then you’re more willing to take risks.” ~Yo-Yo Ma

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“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” ~Scott Adams

I Grew Grass

Friday, May 27th, 2016

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I grew grass! Well, I, personally, didn’t grow it. Rather I planted the seeds and watered it daily. Uhhh, actually, my neighbor, Bill, planted the seeds and put down the topsoil. But I did water it with my garden hose.

And miracle of all miracles, it grew!

I’m in awe of life and its amazing ability to create and re-create. We put these little skinny brown seeds in the dirt, scattered them around and covered them a bit and put on some other shiny green stuff on top of that so the birds wouldn’t eat the seeds. Then I watered it every day for a week … and nothing happened.

I didn’t really think it would. I mean, how could green stuff come from skinny brown stuff? It made no sense whatsoever.

But on the eighth day, lo’ and behold, little skinny green stuff began to emerge. And now, a week later, the little skinny green stuff has grown up to be … a lawn!

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Ya’ see, a tree in our front yard had died; the city came along and cut it down leaving a big patch of dirt. Ugly as sin! And we had just moved in! Something needed to be done!

And so neighbor, Bill, recommended GRASS!

Living in New York City two blocks from Times Square for 40 years simply did not prepare me for this. Life in the country is one miracle after another. What a trip!

Who invented this concept? Plant seeds, water, grass grows. What intelligence made this up? God? Mother Nature? Someone we haven’t even thought of yet?

It’s a mystery.

But oh so fascinating …

Yeah, I know, there’s a science behind all of this – Biology. I took a biology course once and it was explained to me, and I probably said, “Well OK, so that’s how it works”, but biology never explained the essence of the process. It explained the process, but we never got to the essence. Somehow it was overlooked.

Biology never explained Life.

Where did life come from? What did it look like? Where did it go when our tree died? Does it live in the dirt?

Seed + Water + Dirt + Life = Grass???

What a concept!

I once spent an afternoon getting to know a tree many years ago and had the same basic experience. I realized that the tree and I were essentially the same. What made us both was life. Life! We were each made of different stuff, but at the heart of each of us was life – essentially life. Without that life neither of us could possibly exist. And though we were each made of different stuff, what was the same in each of us was life.

You and I are each made of the same stuff, yet we are still very different. Perhaps we’re like me and the tree – different, but essentially the same. We both have life.

Maybe this is what’s meant by the Universal Truth that states, “We Are All One.” We are all one in life. We are all one in essence. We are all one in the miracle of this continuing energy.

Some of us are even different colors! If we miss the point, if we overlook the essence and fail to get down to the basic truth of who we really are and what really makes us up, if we fail to see this and miss the true concept, that’s called Racism.

If we’re really smart and in-depth thinkers and seers, we’ll simply know the truth and the truth shall make us free – free from racism.

This all came from growing grass.

You’ll have to excuse me now. I have to go water my lawn.

IAL Funder Letter #7

Monday, May 16th, 2016

Dear Friend,

Is Anybody Listening?

Who is our audience?

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You are.

But it must go beyond you. We speak to the “spiritual, but not religious”, the independent spiritual seekers, the millions of other healers on the planet – those that sit on the neighboring edges of our particular healing nation.

We offer an ‘alternative’ approach to awareness and healing – or perhaps an ‘additional’ approach.

The power of church in many people’s lives is great. But what about the many people who don’t go to church? What jogs their thought to a more spiritual approach and to the spiritual solutions that WILL solve the problems of our world?

Our particular language is music and song. It’s a universal language that speaks to all. It entertains, educates and inspires. It’s a joyful enterprise.

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Nobody has a corner on Truth. The Truth is simply available to all of us.

Learn More:

Is Anybody Listening

Participate Now:

http://watchfiremusic.com/wfm/is-anybody-listening/donate-now/

 

Thanks for listening,

Peter Link

IAL Funder Letter #4

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

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Dear Friend,

Is Anybody Listening?

There is something in the stillness

Calling softly to me

Even though I’m all alone

And the sound is like nothing

I’ve ever heard or seen

And it’s calling from the deep unknown

That’s right. It’s a calling. This project is a calling. We’re accepting the call.

Then the mountains move

And the cold wind roars

And the fire fills the sky

But temptation always passes by

Leaving something in the stillness

Calling softly to me

And so, we’re listening.

We believe there is a better way of fixing the problems of the world that we all face going forward, a more spiritual way of healing these issues.

It’s a still small voice

Oh a still small voice

Can ya’ hear it?

A still small voice

Calling to me

 And so I’m listening. And I’ve found that …

There is something in the silence

When I quiet my mind

And the water’s rolling over me

And the hush it is endless

And the song runs free

And the voice is like a melody

And I believe that music is the messenger in the communication of these profound ideas of restoration that every one of us already knows.

And the time shall come

When the choice is made

And the voice deep inside

Will stay with you and be your guide

Through the waters ahead

 Well, that time is now.

 It’s a still small voice

Can you hear it?

We each have the power to heal. We do it every day – in small ways, in big ways. Join us in this healing work.

Can you hear it calling?

Learn More:

Is Anybody Listening

Participate Now:

http://watchfiremusic.com/wfm/is-anybody-listening/donate-now/

 

Thanks for listening,

Peter Link

Lyrics from It’s A Still Small Voice, Act II, Is Anybody Listening?

Healing The Digital World — Part 2

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

Binary code on a surface of a planet

Just last week, the day before an extremely important session that I had been preparing for weeks, while working, I went to instantiate (to apply or add) an additional virtual instrument to a song that I would be showing the next day to the producer of my new show. Not only would the computer not add the track, but also it told me that I was not even authorized to use the software that would create the instrument of choice.

This had never happened to me. I had worked with this particular software for many years, had authorized (registered) it long ago when I bought it and had upgraded it religiously through the years.

I went to another track whose instrument also came from the same company, an instrument that had been playing just fine only a moment ago, and it would suddenly not play either. I went to its source and was also told again that now I was not authorized to use this instrument either.

So I tried to re-authorize the software with the company, but there were no codes that should have been supplied by the company on line to start the process. On top of it all, it was Saturday and there was no one in tech services at the company. In fact, the company was closed for the weekend and my show and tell was Sunday, the next day.

And on top of that, as I began checking through the four major new songs that I was to play for the producer the next day, I found that a total of 35 instruments, all coming from the same company, would not play and were no longer authorized.

I was sunk. Yes, “sunk.” Panicked, doubtful and confused. And then of course ‘lack of time’ stepped in and made things worse.

I was heartbroken. I had been looking forward to getting this producer on board and excited about my work for weeks and now I would have to cancel.

Then, as I began to work through each of the songs I began to hear other problems as well. It actually seemed as if things were getting worse with each playing of a song.

I went to my back-up hard drive and things weren’t as bad there with the four songs, but as I played through them I could tell that they too were beginning to break down and fall apart.

Now I was in jeopardy of losing the entire songs – all my work over the course of the last several months.

As the problems progressed rapidly, I began to wonder if I had a virus.

The word “virus” stopped me in my tracks. It was the height of my fear and yet it was the word that got me to stop and take a mental stand against disease.

I knew that if I were able to pray for the healing of my body, that since my body and my computer was made of the same stuff, (matter) then why would I not be able to heal my computer and its mental problems as well.

I worked to see and understand that all physical problem manifestations were mental and so I worked on realizing that I didn’t need to heal a computer, some steel parts, some software or digital numbers, etc., but rather I needed to heal the thoughts that resulted in these seeming problems.

So I went to work on the subjects of time, of panic, of stress, of confusion and of divine order.

What that prayer did for me first was to calm me down and put a much higher intelligence in control instead of a fear based consciousness. I took a break and calmed down my rushing thoughts. I reorganized the hours left before my meeting. Saturday evening I went back into the studio and calmly figured out several workarounds that would enable me to play the music for the producer.

The prayer that I worked with was that what I was doing was a right idea that would only benefit all of mankind. That there was nothing in the concept or the way in which I was going about the creation of this concept that was false or ego based or in any way might hurt others. I worked to see the project as a grand and noble idea and that could only result in positive and inspirational communication.

Focusing on this more grand idea calmed my thought and for the first time in many hours I was able to think “straight.” Solutions began to pour through my thought and I calmly implemented them into the rest of the evening so that by the end of the evening, I felt ready for the meeting and was joyously anticipating the sharing of my work. My “workarounds” would get me through the coming session.

After church on Sunday morning I met my producer and together we had a 5-hour meeting in my studio of show and tell and solid work without a single technical interruption or glitch.

By the time I put him on the train at the end of the afternoon, I felt nothing but gratitude for the way the day had turned out. Driving home from the train station I was giddy with gratitude for the way things had gone – especially in the wake of the last 24 hours.

When I got home, I expressed this gratitude deeply (another form of prayer) to Julia, my wife. She too had been working mentally for the right atmosphere for the day. I went downstairs to my studio to shut the room down for the day still filled with the spirit of positive completion, but already preparing my thought to start fixing things first thing Monday.

I knew I had my work cut out for me because I really did not know what had gone wrong in the first place to cause all the trouble or how to go about fixing it.

The suggestion came to me to clean the mental atmosphere of my studio once more before I shut things down. I’ll have to admit that there was still the fear that I was not up to the solving of all the problems that I had to work around. They, in my mind, still existed and remained to be fixed, but I knew that at least on Monday, I might be able to reach tech services at the company and get some help.

Though I had only slept several hours the previous night I then put in 5 more hours of calm and clear cleaning of computer, hard drives, software and song set-ups in a concentrated and organized fashion. The work was focused and governed by intelligence. I was surprised by my energies after so long a day.

I did not address the particular problems per se because never did the authorization warnings come up. Never did I have a single problem from the day before that had befuddled me. All the problems that had caused me to fear had disappeared. I simply did what I call “spring cleaning” to my equipment and software.

By the time I went to bed that Sunday evening everything had be totally restored and all errors reduced to their native nothingness. In fact I grew to understand that the problems had been healed before I began my work that evening.

So did I heal my computer? Yes and no. What I healed was the mental atmosphere around it. The healing of that atmosphere resulted in a digital representation of that atmosphere – simply a studio that worked the way it had always been intended to work.

It was the calming of thought that was the essence of this healing. I marvel at the demonstration and joy at its efficacy.

On Monday, a day that I had anticipated as a brutal and frustrating day only 24 hours ago, I spent 15 glorious minutes running a series of perfect tests on my system. All things back to normal. I then went on with the rest of my life – calmly, gratefully and on schedule.

I have to say that I have no idea what went wrong and also that I do not have any idea what I did physically to “fix” the particular and various problems that occurred on Saturday. With a change of my thought, they had just disappeared.

I don’t see this as a miracle, though others might. I see this as the natural result of a change of consciousness. Essentially I had emptied my consciousness of fear-based thought and refilled it with calm intelligence. The result was that the divine order was restored and that manifested in a more perfect order throughout all things.

Therein lies the healing.

Interview With Mezzo-soprano Isola Jones

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

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Guest Blogger, Amy Duncan


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American mezzo-soprano Isola Jones is a highly acclaimed opera singer who sang at the Metropolitan Opera for 16 seasons (over 500 performances) and has sung with many opera companies throughout the U.S. and abroad. Isola was born in Chicago, and her striking looks reveal her ancestry—African American, Native American (Cherokee) and European.

Isola Jones is best known for her portrayal of Carmen, her signature role, however she also collaborated with James DeMars and wrote an aria for an opera written for her: “Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Roses.” She is an adjunct faculty member at South Mountain Community College, where she shares her gifts with her students. She has earned her Masters and is now pursuing her DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts) from Arizona State University.

Isola recently participated in a recording for Watchfire Music—a collaboration with pianist/composer/arranger and WFM recording artist Deborah Offenhauser, in Deborah’s debut as an orchestra arranger and her first time recording with a vocalist. The album, “Child of God,” illustrates the Creator’s loving embrace for his children, and is the result of several years’ work by Deborah in writing the music and lyrics.

 

INTERVIEW by Amy Duncan, Guest Blogger — “Tending The Fire”

First of all, I know you’re working on your Doctorate Degree. I would love to hear about that and what made you decide to undertake this at this particular time in your life.

I don’t plan to retire anytime soon and I love the academic environment. Earning a terminal degree (Doctor of Musical Arts) provides me with the necessary credentials to control my future. I received an Honorary Doctorate twenty years ago from Providence College in Rhode Island, but an earned doctorate is the Holy Grail in education.

Second: Tell me a little about the new CD and your experience working with Deborah’s music.

I’ve known Debbie for over twenty years, and when she asked me to

record her music, I was happy to be a part of the project. She was gracious in allowing me to make some changes in the vocal line that better suited my style of singing.

How would you describe your style of singing?

In 1975, I auditioned for Leonard Bernstein who was casting his newest musical, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. He was amazing and charming and I will quote exactly what he said to me: ” You belong in an opera house.”

Tell me about when you first started singing and when and how you realized it was your calling.

 I suppose I’ve always known that I wanted to sing. It wasn’t until I heard Leontyne Price sing on “The Voice of Firestone” television program in the ’60’s that I decided that the opera was my passion (I was eleven years old). Leontyne Price possesses the most beautiful voice on earth!!

Fourteen years later, when I was the mezzo-soprano understudy with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Sir Georg Solti who was conducting the Verdi Requiem (a major orchestral piece with orchestra, chorus and four soloists), I was called in to sing the final dress rehearsal because the guest artist (mezzo) was sick!

When I arrived at Orchestra Hall I was introduced to the other soloists and we began the rehearsal: on my right, Leontyne Price, on my left Luciano Pavarotti and on his left was Welsh bass, Gwynne Howell.

My career began that day! Solti offered me the role and the recording of the part of Mary in the Wagner opera “The Flying Dutchman.” Decca London Records contacted me about performances and a recording of the Gershwin opera “Porgy and Bess” in Cleveland with Lorin Maazel conducting. “Porgy and Bess” won the Grammy that year for Best Opera Recording.

 You’ve had a broad and varied career in opera. Has this been your only love, or have you sung (or wanted to sing) other genres?

 I appreciate all kinds of music, regardless of genre, but I, however prefer to sing classical music because of its supreme beauty and its power to transform both performer and audience.

 Are you happy with the way your career has developed, or is there something else you have wished for or still wish for?

 I love my life and I’m doing what I love to do! I’m singing, teaching and will graduate on May 9, 2016 with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree.

How do you feel about the future of opera, considering the financial challenges many of the arts are facing today?

I believe the answer is in marketing the product (opera) correctly.

I teach in South Phoenix where the musical culture gravitates to hip-hop, rap and mariachi music. For the past eight years I have given classical recitals to raise money for South Mountain Community College’s annual Stars Concert: music scholarship fundraiser.

Five of those eight years, I’ve sung with my students: solo arias, duets and ensembles. In September we performed the opera “Carmen” to a packed house! We posted notices on social media websites and we had gorgeous posters to distribute.

This is all to say that those who work in public relations need to use their imagination and present a compelling reason for the public to come to the theater. If Madonna can be famous, anything is possible!

Do you have any advice for young opera singers just starting out?

 Young singers need to simply sing well! And what does that mean? It means that they need to know and understand the science of singing in order to have excellence and longevity as the voice matures.

 


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