We are so excited to announce it is our first birthday. Yes, it is one year since we launched our very first episode of A Voice and Beyond and to celebrate this exciting milestone, we would like to share some brilliant highlights from our interview rounds, where our internationally acclaimed voice teachers and music artists offer their pearls of wisdom from lessons they have learned throughout their own personal and professional experiences in the music industry, in the teaching studio and beyond.

Each guest shares with us their empowering words of advice, as they speak candidly about their own journeys of self- discovery, self-care and self-awareness. It is through these lessons, we can all learn and grow, re connect with our most authentic selves, and discover our voices in song as well as life, so we too can empower others, including our students.

It has been a real joy spending time with all my guests and I am truly grateful for their contribution to the show. We hope that you enjoy part one of our two part birthday celebrations.

In this episode

1:16 – Introduction to our Birthday Celebration of Voices

1:44 – Dr Elizabeth Blades from Episode 2

5:06 – Dr Jenevora Williams from Episode 5

8:50 – Dr Gillyanne Kayes & Jeremy Fisher from Episode 6 & 7

12:27 – Ashlie Amber from Episode 9

16:02 – Lisa Popeil from Episode 11

20:01 – Brenda Earle Stokes from Episode 50

25:31 – Chris Johnson from Episode 15

28:05 – Dr Elizabeth Benson from Episode 13

32:00 – Dr Wendy LeBorgne from Episode 17 & 18

35:44 – Nancy Bos from Episode 20 & 21

39:18 – Dann Mitton from Episode 32

44:16 – Nadine Manion from Episode 24

46:51 – Heidi Moss Erickson from Episode 35

51:15 – Dr Trineice Robinson-Martin from Episode 47


Dr Marisa Lee Naismith is excited to announce the release of her new book “Singing Contemporary Commercial Music Styles: A Pedagogical Framework” published by Compton Publications UK. Marisa offers this book as a starting point and as CCM markets continue to evolve, she encourages that we, as a voice community, continue to evolve, debate and communally add to this framework.



Visit the A Voice and Beyond Youtube channel to watch back the video replay of this guest interview or to see my welcome video.

Episode Transcription

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  00:02

We are so excited to announce it is our first birthday. Yes, it is. One year since we launched our very first episode of App voice and beyond. And to celebrate this exciting milestone, we would like to share some brilliant highlights from our guest around episodes where our internationally acclaimed voice teachers and music artists share their pearls of wisdom from lessons they have learned through out their own personal and professional experiences in the music industry. In the teaching studio, and beyond. Each one of our guests offers words of advice and empowerment, and they all spoke candidly about their own journeys of self discovery, as well as self awareness. It is through these lessons, we can all learn and grow. We can reconnect with ourselves, live each day authentically. Find our voices in song as well as in life, so we too can empower others, including our students. It has been a real joy spending time with all my guests, and I’m truly grateful for their contribution to the show. We hope that you enjoy part one of our two part birthday celebrations. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode. Dr. Elizabeth blades is one of my greatest inspirations and I wanted to honour Elizabeth by featuring her as my very first interview guest on the show. Episode Two was titled My journey of self care. And in this episode, Elizabeth shares many of her life lessons learned as a woman living in an extremely toxic relationship and the impact this relationship had on her. The greatest message we can all take from this episode is no matter what we must always be true and authentic to ourselves and in our relationships with others. So let’s hear what Elizabeth has to say.

Dr Elizabeth Blades  02:30

You’ve got to put yourself first I know that sounds really selfish. But in that marriage, I did not put myself first I did everything for him. I adored him. I just idolised him. I basically canned my career. At first. We lived up in the middle of nowhere, and I’m up on roofs, which I’m scared of roofs. I’m scared of heights. But I was up there helping him fix roofs, just you know, a handy man’s wife fetching tools and holding the drywall while he nailed it in and things like that. Yeah. And I gave up my self. I gave up myself, and I didn’t even realise it. I thought I was just being a good wife. Yeah. And showing him how much I loved him and how I was there for him. And it didn’t matter. So I have learned you’ve got to not I mean, you, you know, put yourself first as I said to you earlier, the famous Shakespeare quote from Hamlet, which Polonius says to his son lair T’s and he’s giving them all this advice. No, by the way, the only advice before you bow and oh, by the way, and the last one is to thine own self be true.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  03:33

Yeah, I think just knowing you and the interactions that we’ve had, I would describe you as extremely resilient.

Dr Elizabeth Blades  03:44

Oh, thank you. I mean, I know

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  03:47

there’s lots of other beautiful adjectives that I could use, but you truly are resilient.

Dr Elizabeth Blades  03:54

Yes, I would say so. I didn’t feel resilient there for a while, I felt like I was shattered. You know, I was about ready to just fracture in a million pieces. But because people helped me out my family was wonderful friends came to my rescue. Everybody just was in so many ways, keeping me from drowning.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  04:14

And all those experiences have led you to all this writing to all these wonderful contributions that you’ve made to our fan kitty and to others as you continue writing and, and I’m sure that your books are going to help others as well.

Dr Elizabeth Blades  04:32

I hope so. I feel I have I have enough time left in my life to make a difference as best I can for other people.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  04:41

What is the greatest lesson that you’ve learned?

Dr Elizabeth Blades  04:45

What my mother always said? This too shall pass. Oh,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  04:50

I think that would give a lot of people a lot of comfort if they actually truly believed that.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  05:06

In Episode Five, our guest was Dr. Jenevora Williams, and her episode was titled giving a voice to vocal health jenever shares some excellent advice regarding the importance of genuinely learning about what makes us truly happy. She also tells us what she believes are her greatest achievements, and that in life, no one individual does anything, it takes a team to accomplish significant change. So let’s welcome jenever to this episode, what is the best piece of advice that you could give anyone or anyone in our singing voice community, in terms of anything to help them with their physical well being?

Dr Jenevora Williams  05:56

I think the more you know yourself, the better you can make decisions. So if you genuinely know yourself, as others would tell you, or you know, look deeply inside your heart and soul, what makes you happy? What makes you unhappy? What are you really good at what not in terms of improvement, particularly, but if you know what makes you unhappy, then you can steer away from it and steer towards their happiness, and you probably then going to end up doing things better and doing things that will give you more fulfilment. And so many major decisions in my life, I have made purely on the grounds of what’s going to make me happy, nothing to do with whether I ought to do it, or whether I should do it, or whether other people are telling me to do it. Am I going to go to bed at night looking forward to it? Or am I going to go to bed at night, rather dreading it. And those I think, hugely important self awareness things.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  06:55

And that sounds a part of that is saying no to others, and not trying to please everybody, which a lot of us tend to do, especially as women and as nurturers and a lot of people in our teaching community run around caring for everyone else, and they don’t care for themselves quite so much. 

Dr Jenevora Williams  07:15

And of course, everything is a compromise. Life is a compromise.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  07:19

It is what do you think is your greatest accomplishment? To date?

Dr Jenevora Williams  07:24

Oh, in life in life? Yes. In life producing two amazing children.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  07:30

Yeah. And in your professional career, in my

Dr Jenevora Williams  07:33

professional career, I think making a few shifts in the culture so that people are able to access information they want to access so that people are able to see things slightly differently. I don’t think I’ve done anything major or profound, but I might have just nudged things a little bit, along with team of colleagues. And that’s where it is. It’s actually no one individual does anything you can only achieve change and achieve anything with a team

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  08:02

is so great. You can only do so much on your own. But you can accomplish so much more when you have that good team of people surrounding you.

Dr Jenevora Williams  08:12

And you asked the first answer to your question was, was my two amazing children? Why they’re amazing. It’s not because of me. It’s because of the team. Yeah, it’s because they’ve got, you know, two parents, they’ve got grandparents, they’ve had lovely friends and they’ve had great neighbours, and they’ve had fabulous schools and they’ve had that whole wonderful support for them growing up. Yeah, it’s the village. Really, I don’t think I can take credit for anything. I’ve just sort of been a little a little working part in a big thing.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  08:50

Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher are the power couple known as Vocal Process. And they were my guests on episode six and seven, which were both titled world voice day, a celebration of collegiality, collaboration, and community. In these episodes, Gillyanne and Jeremy opened up about their own personal life lessons, the significance of self care and becoming self aware. In celebration of world voice day, they delivered their inspirational messages regarding the importance of fostering healthy mindful connections and collaborations within our voice teaching community. What have you learned about yourself over the last 12 months since COVID?

Jeremy Fisher  09:45

I don’t know that I can do that in a single sentence. Okay, you get to, okay, I do. Everything I do for a reason. And everything that I do where I am right now is acceptable.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  10:01


Jeremy Fisher  10:02

That’s two sentences. That’s pretty good. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  10:04

Yes, no, that’s really profound. Gillyanne?

Gillyanne Kayes  10:08

Be authentic

Jeremy Fisher  10:11

to words. That’s amazing.

Gillyanne Kayes  10:13

Be Authentic and you will attract the people who are your tribe? 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  10:18

Yes. Love that. That’s fantastic. So, okay, seeing its as its world voice day in a couple of days time, and this is a celebration for World voice day. And our underlying theme tonight has been about collegiality. So Julianne, if you had to give one piece of advice to our singing voice community, what would that be?

Gillyanne Kayes  10:47

It’s not a race. Oh, look around you. And you’ll see your colleagues walking along in the same direction. That’s glorious.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  10:58

That is glorious. That was short, too. I’m impressed. The British side of her is coming out. Now. The Italians left the room. Jeremy? 

Gillyanne Kayes  11:10

That one came up for me in my meditation.

Jeremy Fisher  11:13

For me. Try anything? believe nothing.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  11:20

Hmm. That what was your inspiration for that one?

Jeremy Fisher  11:24

Oh, just thinking thinking about the question, which is there’s two there are too many belief systems. And once you get into a belief system you start to impose, but if you try anything, you try it out and you don’t have a belief system, then you can discard it if it doesn’t work for you.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  11:41

Yes, I like that.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  11:43

Well, I wrote mine down. Because I have a little piece of advice too. So mine is Be kind to yourselves, and do something that brings you joy every day. So you can become a cheerleader for others in our teaching community. Take good care of your physical, mental and emotional health and well being. So you can show up being the best teacher you can possibly be for the students you train, and the ones that you mentor every day. That’s lovely. So that’s my piece of advice. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  12:27

In episode nine, our guest was Ashlie Amber, and her episode was titled female, black and over 30. This was an extremely candid interview with Ashley who spoke about her own journey of pursuing her dreams to become a successful music artist in Nashville. Based on her own experiences, Ashlie offers advice as to what we as a voice teaching community can do to address the needs of our students and guide them towards a successful music career. Ashlie also delivers some very powerful advice to all emerging performers. Here’s what Ashlie had to say,

Ashlie Amber  13:14

As an artist, never sign anything involving your likeness and or your money without having a lawyer look over it first. Because the reality is, is that whoever handed you that contract, it is written for their best interests, not yours. So you want your own lawyer that is not affiliated with anybody who gave you that contract to look over it, because that lawyer is going to have your best interest shot is probably the most important thing I can say. And in addition to that, this industry is going to tell you that you’re not good enough, every single day, it’s up to you to tell yourself, I don’t care what you have to say, I am good enough, and I’m gonna keep fighting, and I’m gonna keep climbing. And I’m gonna keep doing me so good, that you have no choice but to listen to me. If you do those two things. There’s no way that you cannot not succeed. There’s just no way.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  14:15

This may be a little controversial me asking you this. You are an artist and a singer who has a successful career. What could we be doing better as a singing voice community to look after Singers, the very people that we are teaching and to ensure that people do have training that they don’t leave the studios?

Ashlie Amber  14:36

That is a tough question. I would say in order to properly teach you have to do if it’s something that you don’t do if you’ve never recorded in the studio, you can’t teach somebody how to record in the studio, you should focus on what you can teach. I think a lot of times people are like, Oh yeah, you can do this. You can do this. You can do this. I think if we are more folks Guess and specialise and be totally cool like, Well, hey, like I’ve never done that before. So I’m not going to do that I’m actually going to refer you to her who has done this or him who has done this. Because now that way us as singers are actually getting what we need. Because I don’t want to train with a teacher who doesn’t know what it’s like to slide on their knees and do a full backbend while holding out a massive note for 45 seconds in front of an entire crowd with a band. I know that’s very specific that but if you because I do it on my show, but at the same time if you if you’re a teacher, and you’ve never performed in front of a large audience, or you’ve never worked with a live band, or if you’ve never done these things, how are you going to teach that singer? How to get through that?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  16:02

I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Popeil in Episode 11, which was titled The Power of resilience, curiosity and transformation for longevity. Lisa is an internationally acclaimed voice teacher, researcher, presenter and author. And in this episode, Lisa gives us a personal insight into her successful and enduring Korea, which commenced when she emerged as a recording artist in the 80s. And she talks about the importance of resilience, tenacity, and transformation, as well as sharing many other pearls of wisdom. We begin by listening to the hardships Lisa believes women endure in the entertainment industry.

Lisa Popeil  16:53

How do you stick up for yourself without alienating people, and I think women have a harder time with that we want to be liked. And we’re afraid if we’re too tough. It’s only going to make for more problems. Yeah. So there’s just a lot of luck. And as I was saying earlier in our conversation, nothing’s fair. Nothing’s a meritocracy. You just take opportunities when they come and be as good as you can be for the job. Except and sometimes lie, you know, sometimes take things you’re not competent for. I mean, that’s a famous entertainment story, or maybe any job which is you can you do this. Sure, you know, and then you like, and then figure it out, figure it out. You know, sometimes it works. Sometimes that’s the beginning of a career.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  17:39

What advice would you give someone who was wanting to have a career in the music industry? What how do I move people?

Lisa Popeil  17:48

How do I make people feel something and I, I always tell my students, I said, your job as a singer, if you want to be a performer, is to take your listener on an emotional journey, and take them out of their normal, mundane, boring everyday life. Yeah. and transport them for a few minutes or more. Yes, and your technique is just this thing that allows you to feel what I call the three C’s, well, you have control of your voice so it doesn’t bail on you. And then that will make you consistent. So you don’t have good days and bad days, you just have some kind of good days. And that leads to confidence because confidence is one of the big things that young singers lack they say I don’t feel confident and I go okay, let’s go back. How do you get confident control, then consistency that will lead to confidence. And that will allow your artistic mind to take over and you’re in the background processing is the the technique which you can you can go to if you need it, but mostly it’s just working in the automation mode, that and you’re just enjoying the you’re in the flow of creativity and feeling electric and creating an electric feeling for your audience. And I think so many singers and teachers just forget about the joy, the joy part, so joy and adding to the joy of other people and how to be fearless with your voice without of course hurting it and yeah, how do we not hurt our voices? I’ll say here are the things you don’t want to do. You never want to press your vocal cords. I don’t care how loud you’re going to be. There are other strategies to sound loud, but never press to me. It is the voice killer. If somebody sings a lot, I’m very opinionated when it comes to what to avoid and and what to focus on. I’ve come a big support person. I believe that a good posture and support. A lot of problems will just go away. So I always start with that.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  20:01

Episode 50 featured Brenda Earl Stokes and her interview episode was titled My versatile career and how I figured it out. In this interview, Brenda explains how her extensive music industry Korea was built on being resourceful entrepreneurial. And by simply figuring it out, we highlight where Brenda opens up about gender equality issues, and the dumbing down of singers in music programmes in higher educational institutions, as well as problems associated with traditional training programmes that are not adequately serving singers and their pursuit for a career in the music industry. Do you believe that in higher education, that voice training programmes are serving our students adequately at the present time?

Brenda Earle Stokes  21:01

No, I don’t. And I can’t say all of them are not because there are I can name a several programmes that I think are really nailing it. But where I see a lot of issues with what comes down the pike is that there’s still some of the old guard system that is in place. And I think at this point, unless you are an organist, you do not need to be learning figured bass, there is all of this emphasis on you know, you have to do a classical song in order to get into the contemporary music theatre programme, or you have to play a classical piece on piano to get into the jazz programme. It’s like wanting to have it both ways, either you’re a conservatory, that is training artists, or you’re a university who has to cover certain things. And so that’s where I start to take issues. And again, I can’t speak to other places other than, you know, what I know, in the United States and Canada. Sure, there is a real dumbing down of things for singers, which I take personal issue with, that the singers are in a separate theory class, that the singers are in their own improv class and the jazz programme, that the singers are learning piano skills that are not useful for them. And so what I really see as being a crucial thing is how well is the programme, equipping the students to be able to walk out the door and actually be able to function in some capacity in something and it doesn’t Yes, because remember, my first job, I was accompanying little kids, ballet classes, it’s something I had something to do. But if all you can do is sing the 10 songs that you sang at your recital, and you can’t play any piano, and you can’t conduct anything, and you can’t sing in a choir, and you can barely read music, because your music theory class was counterpoint. And you can’t read chords on the piano. I take issue with that, because then you’ve spent all this money, which over here is a lot of money. It is criminally insane in this country, what stuff? Yes, it is. It’s hundreds of 1000s of dollars, yes, $200,000 to get graduate US dollars. And I take a real issue with that. And I’ve seen how it’s failed so many people. So that’s really what my concern is, is being able to train people in a way where they’re learning all of the things that are useful for them to know to have those conversations to learn that repertoire to dig into theory in a real way, but then to also walk out with a functional amount of skills that makes sense for what you’re doing. And so there’s no reason that you’re being forced to sing in a second language. If you’re a jazz singer, you know, there’s, you know, there’s no reason to be singing arias. If that’s not unless you’re interested in doing that. So anyways, I could go on about it all day. Yes, I am troubled about it. And I consider this to be a feminist issue, because so the huge majority, especially in jazz programmes have the women in the programme are our singers. And so when the singers are walking around, and they can’t play piano, and they don’t know how to count in the band, and no one has taught them to do those things, or their classes are being taught by a male faculty member who knows nothing about singing, I really look at that as an issue of like gender equality. Because if the singers if the women singers, or the singers in general aren’t being taught those skills, then they’re always going to be ridiculed, and they’re never going to feel like they’re part of the group. I take issue with that big time.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  24:22

What is the one piece of advice that you would offer to our singing voice community? Based on all your experiences, your knowledge, what’s the one thing you would like to share with us?

Brenda Earle Stokes  24:35

I would say it would be to stay open to what the possibilities could be. Because I think for anyone who has had a long career, I mean, obviously Idina Menzel might look at that differently because she’s just a Broadway star all the way through but then there’s the rest of us, who we change we grow we more interested in other things. We take detours, we have babies and take breaks For, it’s like really being open to a range of options and not being so stuck into saying, but I’m just a jazz singer, or all I do is music theatre or I’m only in a rock band. It’s like I think that that is the place where a lot of people get hung up. And so I think keeping yourself open to the idea that there’s a lot of things out there that you could be doing is probably my best advice.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  25:31

Chris Johnson was my guest on Episode 15, titled, voice training for sustainability. In this episode, Chris spoke about how he transitioned from a successful performance career to becoming a voice teacher, Chris has built a solid understanding of today’s music industry demands on singers, and he shares with us that it’s possible for singers to have a sustainable career, while maintaining their unique signature sound. Here we feature some great advice Chris gives to novice voice teachers, which includes the importance of learning to do something yourself before you go and teach it. So let’s listen to what Chris has to say.

Chris Johnson  26:20

There’s no substitute for learning how to do something yourself. That doesn’t apply to all singers. But to go through a process, sometimes frustrating of resolving an issue that you’ve had forever. And you just you just know there be an answer out there for it. Some teachers haven’t got themselves, their heads around certain registers in their voice, some of the more basic ones. And those teachers, it’s like, Hey, listen, if you struggle with chest voice, work it out, work out chest voice, because you’re going to need those skills if you’re going to begin to help and be able to empathise with them. So I think learning to do something yourself is really important. And when I talk to teachers about starting, if I start a teacher on a journey, I start them on style first. Because again, you know, offsets onset, you don’t even need to get into range, you just need to get into colour. It doesn’t have to be highly dynamic. But we start off on that. And what that helps the singer to do is understand how someone learns, because repetition blocking all these motor learning skills, they can apply to how you teach someone style, and how someone becomes perceptive, how they listen, how they, how they mimic and interpret information and repeat it back to you. That kind of stuff can be learned in style. And arguably, those two things are very at the core before you even start to learn about how the larynx functions and, you know, technical exercises. So that’s my best advice as well how I get teachers on that journey first.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  28:05

Dr. Elizabeth Benson was my guest on episode number 13, a voice for social justice. I’d like to share parts of that interview, where Elizabeth discusses that it has become her personal mission to instigate social change and reform within the voice community. Elizabeth speaks candidly about problems associated with systemic racism and gender equity in higher educational institutions at present, Elizabeth shares that it takes tenacity, strength and endurance to make any kind of meaningful contributions for change. And she’s certainly doing that.

Dr Elizabeth Benson  28:53

I have one other project in the works with some amazing collaborators on equity, faculty equity is sort of coming out of some conversations we had about gender equity, and that in our larger conversations, which are absolutely overdue and essential on how do we solve sort of systemic racism within university systems, that also, you know, as a woman, I was a little concerned with gender equity, kind of falling by the wayside, that this was also something that we we have not reached parity, we may have representation, we may have women working in the universities, but are they getting paid the same as their male counterparts? We don’t actually know. Because there’s no information. No. So some colleagues and I felt that this was an area that we wanted to look into a little bit more that as we are having these incredibly important conversations about racial justice, that we also make sure that you know, all the components of Justice are included here. And like I said, my you know, my entire agenda now sort of revolves around things that I see that I don’t feel are right and I I would like to see them change. And so the real sort of social justice agenda.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  30:05

Yes. So it sounds like you’ve become a real Trailblazer?

Dr Elizabeth Benson  30:09

Well, I hope so, you know, my goal is to contribute in a way that is meaningful. And I know that there’s a certain amount of risk in putting myself out there and expressing opinions loudly. But I feel that that is essential for any kind of meaningful contribution. That’s the way my mother raised me. I think, you know, the core values that she instilled in me are what gets me through every day, tenacity, strength, endurance, just keep moving forward, rest when you need to, and get back at it. Work ethic, being kind, also making sure that you don’t neglect the relationships in your life that are important and making time for family and doing your best at everything you do, never doing anything halfway.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  30:53

And what’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned about yourself over the last year during the pandemic,

Dr Elizabeth Benson  31:00

this isn’t as deep philosophically. I have learned actually, very surprisingly, that I think I’m a bit of an introvert, which you would never know, I would never know, I didn’t know. But that I really do need a lot more downtime and recharging time, so that I can go and do my best workout in the world. I think, you know, the profession of being a voice teacher is incredibly extroverted, it requires a lot of energy, social energy, and interactions with other people, and, you know, public speaking and all of these things. So, in order to do all of those things, well, I really do need a lot more downtime, I need a lot more rest. And I think that the pandemic has allowed me to prioritise that in ways I couldn’t before I was just always on the go, always a little bit depleted. But this taught me that, you know, if I rest just a little bit more, I can do even better when I’m out in the world.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  32:00

Talk to Wendy LeBorgne was highlighted in Episode 17, and 18. Episode 17 is called Training vocal athletes for durability, strength and survival. But in our birthday celebrations, I would like to feature a part of episode 18 titled your authentic voice and unique brand. I love how Wendy tells us that no voice is perfect. And it’s our imperfections that make us unique. He or she describes the element of the voice, which creates impact for authentic and engaged communication.

Dr Wendy LeBorgne  32:43

When I work with any speaker, it is about your voice is your best when you’re talking to your best friend. We are having a conversation about oh my gosh, did you hear what happened today? You are engaged, you’re passionate about the topic. It is authentic to you as the challenge comes when the stakes are high, right? You need to get venture capital from somebody you need something from someone else. And so your voice becomes the medium for you to do that. And so it becomes in authentic because we have all of these other layers. So not that you can talk to your venture capital firms like you talk to your best friend, but you know, to have some, but you want to have some of that in there. Yes. Because absolutely want. We want to do business with people. We don’t want to do do right. So yeah, he’s got to be approachable. Yes, yes. So that’s really important. Yes. So when people get all tied up in their voice, it is terrible. So it is about the conversation. There is no perfect voice. There is no right voice. It is not one size fits all. And I kind of say this laughingly, but if you have a St. Bernard, and he wants to look like a Greyhound, you can put the St Bernard on the diet all you want, but he’s only ever going to look like a skinny St. Bernard, he’s never going to look like a greyhound. That’s so he can be the best bit St. Bernard he could be right. And so when we talk about vocal authenticity and talk about our voice brand, those elements remain true. Regardless of the brand, the voice brand, it becomes about maximising the great things. Yeah, minimising your detractors, and being authentic to who you are. And in order to do that, you have to be vulnerable. Because you have to try things with your voice. We’ve all had the experience when we know things vocally go really badly and come out of a meeting. Yeah, like, Oh my God, my voice just totally cracked. That did not go the way that I planned. My job then becomes to go okay, why did that not work? for you, what went, Well, what went wrong? How do we fix that for next time? You can’t. And it’s like performance anxiety for a singer. Once that happens, there is a process to get back out on stage again. Because we know that performance anxiety exists. And so to work through that you actually there’s a process to work through it. And similarly, when a when a meeting goes badly when a speech goes badly, when a conversation goes badly, we need to learn from the experience not be panicked that it’s going to happen again.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  35:43

Nancy boss is featured in Episode 20, titled you have a right to use your voice, as well as episode 21. It’s menopause, not vocal death. Today, we listen to Nancy ask the question why people don’t sing. And she shares with us that it is her mission to encourage and educate women who love to sing that they are not alone. And they too have a right to use their voice. Nancy explains the importance of discovering how we are all uniquely empowered. Let’s hear what Nancy has to say.

Nancy Bos  36:25

If you don’t sing like Beyonce just don’t even bother, you know, if that’s where people come in and say, Oh, I can’t sing or I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. That phrase. And it comes from comparing themselves to other singers. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, I live very close to First Peoples group here in Washington State. And when they get together, everyone sings. And it is not a pretty sound. It’s a community sound is a sound meant to bring them together and to share their pain and their joy. That’s what singing is. Yes. Yeah. So why don’t we do that more? I don’t know. But I’m going to try to make sure people do.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  37:05

What’s the best advice and your greatest piece of advice you would like to share with women today?

Nancy Bos  37:13

Oh, my goodness, that’s so this is one where I have to rely on the Spirit to come through me because I haven’t thought about it. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  37:19


Nancy Bos  37:20

Everyone on this planet who’s seeking their purpose, finds that their purpose is to help. Right? And it’s, it’s easy enough to say I want to help other people. But don’t just settle with that. That’ll make you a secretary or a hair cutter. What way are you uniquely empowered to help? Is it to help one person your role in this life might be to help one person get through this life with more ease? Or maybe it’s to help many, many people like what we’re doing here in this podcast, but look for how you’re here to help what what is your calling?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  38:03

Well, I just got goose bumps that is so powerful, so many people waste their gifts.

Nancy Bos  38:12

One person who’s inspired me tremendously as a man who gave his life, career and pastime to another young man who is blind and deaf and has mobility disorders and can’t communicate. And so this this older gentleman has spent 30 years ushering this other young man through life started with him when he was 10. And now he’s 35. And wow, his reason for living was to help this other person with ease through their life. And that’s so inspiring to me.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  38:45

That’s incredible.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  38:46

So if you could change one thing in the world, hmm, what would that be?

Nancy Bos  38:53

Yeah, that would be discrimination. Oh, yes. Yeah, anything, anything where the core of discrimination is judgement. And I wish that there was no such thing as a judgmental person. I wish that was just gone.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  39:07

I have to agree with you there. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  39:19

Dann Mitton is featured in Episode 32 called this moment in time, in which we had the joy of really getting to know Dan and learn about his teaching approaches his professional journey, as well as his keen desire to continue his education and expand his knowledge. We share a part of this interview where Dan opens up about the impact of creating safe spaces where we listen to our students, to our colleagues, to find greater value and nuance in historical pedagogy and allow All voices to be heard. Most importantly, I love how Dan believes that we should all be kind and explained that it is career limiting. Not to be so

Dann Mitton  40:13

I’m also reminded from motor learning theory about in terms of a feedback since you know, we want to be of service to the student, but also stopping after each effort and going, how does that or what do you think? Or that’s not optimal, either. We know. Yeah, talk less and create time for them to phone eight. My sense is that if I’m phoning more, if I’m speaking more in a voice lesson than the student is, then I fail.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  40:41

Yes, absolutely. It’s picking and choosing your moments to phone eight, isn’t it

Dann Mitton  40:47

also letting them play which is so hard for me because I’m such a clucking mother hen, but letting them struggle sometimes, like, the good things call? Yes, a student that loves their own struggle,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  40:59

it is hard, but sometimes when you’ve tried everything else, you’ve got to let them go and do it their way and see how it works for them. So based on everything, the science, the books, the literature, everything, what do you feel that we can do better as a voice community? You

Dann Mitton  41:20

and I are surrounded by luminaries by gifted experts by generous colleagues. Yes. And so I would not dare to put on them. What I’m going to suggest, so I’ll speak about myself and what I could do better. Okay. Yeah, I could, I could listen better. And I know that that sounds pretty fundamental. Because no, no, you know, you you want to you want to compliment a teacher, you tell them they have big ears, right? You we value the ear of the teacher. But I don’t always listen for content. And I am embarrassed to say and and you’ll see this in the forum sometimes too. Like, I could read more attentively. I could suss out nuance, I could listen, from the perspective that somebody is not raising a contrasting point to be argumentative, but that they’re trying to achieve deeper understanding, I could take them for granted. And I don’t always I don’t always have the bandwidth to live from that place. So for myself, I would like to listen better. And I think that I would like to listen better in conversations between colleagues like we’re having now. But also I’d like to listen better for insights when I read those bits of historical voice pedagogy and go, you know, Tetrazzini really knew her stuff back in the day she did the best with what she had.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  42:54

Yes, exactly the best with what she had

Dann Mitton  42:58

listening and reading between the lines and not not just crossing my arms and go Well, that’s ridiculous. Why would you create a whole value system? Yes. And go Wow, man coffin, you were ahead of your time, like what you would have done with a MacBook and? And prot?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  43:14

What is the greatest piece of advice you would like to give our singing voice community

Dann Mitton  43:19

behind? You know what, it’s career limiting to not be kind. So whether you think about the carrot or the stick, there’s never a disadvantage to be in kind. Even when you don’t feel like it behind and I’m speaking to myself as well. Yes. But it matters to have a colleague to be that be that colleague who’s kind kind does not mean powerless. Yeah, and does not mean ineffectual. Yes, it just means that you’re kind.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  43:50

I totally agree. And I think we have to start with ourselves. We have to be kinder to ourselves, and then we can be kinder to others.

Dann Mitton  43:59

But I love the way you’re framing that and part of being kind to ourselves is being kind about our failure to be kind

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  44:16

Nadine Manion gave us a most powerful and insightful interview in Episode 24, titled practical approaches to train and support transgender singers. In this episode, Nadine discusses the many considerations and aspects to training transgender singers, and most importantly, how we can create gender affirming spaces within our teaching studios. We begin by listening to Nadine profound advice for our voice community. What’s the best piece of advice you could offer? A teacher? Who is it? is working with a trans singer? Um, whoo.

Nadine Manion  45:05

That’s a good question. I think one of the things is to really and this is not an easy piece of advice, I will preface Yes. But yes, that’s okay. Is to really take some time to look at your own prejudice, I guess in your mind, what we’ve been taught by society is this gender binary. I think that’s a really hard thing to unlearn unless you look directly at it. And it’s a confronting thing to do. I remember one of the things I used to do a lot, which I am not particularly proud of now is talk about for female singers, when we’re singing low about not dropping the larynx because I’m a contemporary teacher not dropping the larynx. Yeah, because then it gives an overly masculine sound. And I really had to look at the fact that why, like, why does that sound masculine? Who told me that sounded masculine. And so without meaning to I was actually projecting my ingrained opinion of what gender expression should be of what gender is. I was projecting that onto my students. And I didn’t mean to and I definitely wasn’t my intention. But without really looking at that innate kind of belief, and challenging it. We really can’t service our students as well as we should trans students or cisgender students, any students. Yes, you know, I think if we take that gender, binary and gender assumptions away, that actually opens up this whole world of creativity for all students, and will benefit all students.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  46:51

Episode 35 is titled when science meets voice, my serendipitous life with Heidi moss Erickson, Heidi is an absolute joy, and someone who believes everything that has happened to her has happened for a reason, we would like to highlight the part of the episode where Heidi opens up that her mission in the singing voice community is to bring neuroscience to the community and to bridge the gap between the to Heidi also talks about the importance of learning in smaller chunks and chunking it down, and how we must learn to accept mistakes when they occur in thinking. So here’s Heidi.

Heidi Moss Erickson  47:40

I love telling stories about distilling complex neuroscience for the general population and singers in a way that makes sense. So I’m starting to teach more singing in the brain. I call it like saying, yes, your brain and bio hacks and, and things like that. And journal clubs bringing mainstream neuroscience research to the voice community in an accessible way. I call it minding the gap. And that’s where I got that 10 Second, you know, memory thing, because that’s a paper voice teachers would not find it. So the wording of it is really complicated. But if you extract that information, always teachers should be doing that kind of thing in the studio, you know, because that students learn. So I’m trying to bridge these worlds be like the translator in a way. Yeah. And I keep up to date, you know, because neuroscience is one of the most rapidly evolving area so new stuff comes out all the time. So I translate that and apply it there’s there’s just you know, whether it’s the vocal learning, I have this whole great thing. Eddie Chang at UCSF who does articulator motor signalling, we have two laryngeal motor cortices, there’s just all these great things that can be translated to practical things for a voice teacher. So that’s sort of where I’m at is, is trying to create either courses or, you know, consulting or give lectures on that intersection. So that, that that paradigm can be overturned in some of these areas.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  49:15

That’s fantastic. I want to join your journal club. So based on your knowledge and your expertise, what’s one thing that teachers should learn about when it comes to neuroscience?

Heidi Moss Erickson  49:30

Okay. I would say smaller chunks. I think when singers have to do you know, everyone wants to come into a lesson and sing the song from start to finish with all the words that are, you know, they want to do everything because that’s the end result. So I like this idea of chunking in a fun way. It’s like taking a smaller segment and playing With permutations of it, whether it’s inverting some of the notes, so that they can or transposing it so they don’t feel registration. So it sort of like play within a smaller chunk. And that is related to vocal learning. So I have students who take a songbird lesson, we call it a songbird lesson where they’re not allowed to look at the music because I think sheet music we need to read music, but it’s bad for the singer brain on Absolutely. They think a high note is up and it’s not it’s your brain has no people even forget that like half steps or wider as you go up because it’s a log scale. So that’s why half steps are really hard as you go higher. You know? So I think that idea of being more like songbirds sometimes and and really embracing our songbird brain,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  50:51

I love that I want to be a songbird. I think I was more like a crow though.

Heidi Moss Erickson  51:02

That’s the other thing make make all sorts of noises, you know, yes.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  51:05

Episode 47 features my dear friend and colleague, Dr. turinese. Robinson, Martin, and her interview episode is titled, the balancing act between academia and an authentic soul for performance. This is a most powerful interview. And I would like to end part one of our birthday celebrations with Tunis discussing the importance of valuing ourselves, our students and the process. Tunis ends the interview with her most inspirational message to all of us. I’m sure you are going to love what your niece shares with us. What would be your greatest piece of advice to the singing voice community? As we travel through 2022? What can we do better?

Dr Trineice Robinson-Martin  52:09

I think we can value each other better. I think we can value our students, I think we can value ourselves. I think we can value process. And I think if we just kind of take time to do that, and just to shift the emphasis from the product to the process, and add just more value to the process, I think we’ll be able to just have a much more enriched life. So we are not in our students are not waiting to get to the end before they can share themselves. Yeah, so that would be said, My biggest advice.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  52:45

And based on our earlier discussion about the responsibility that you feel, what would be your legacy? What would you like people to remember you by? I know, that’s really profound.

Dr Trineice Robinson-Martin  53:00

I think my legacy would be anyone that came through my work or through me, had the courage to believe in themselves, and had the courage to again, the sense of value that you are wonderfully made. I think that is the biggest thing if I can share that with anybody, if I can make them feel better about themselves, I can make them feel worthy. Because a lot of people don’t feel worthy. They don’t feel valued. They feel like they have to strive to be something that would be my legacy is, you know, whether it’s through my pedagogy or theirs to my music, whether through my children, yeah, just really, really knowing that you’re wonderfully made. And you know, you’re beautiful, just the way you are. And that would be the legacy.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  53:50

I hope you enjoyed part one of a two part Birthday Celebration Series without brilliant lineup of guests. And be sure to listen out for next week’s episode with more advice and more words of wisdom around self care. In the meantime, if you haven’t already done so, be sure and listen to the full interviews with each one of these guests. Or even go and check out their show notes and listen to the episode you feel is going to resonate with you. I promise you, you will not be disappointed. I look forward to joining you on the next birthday Episode of Voice and beyond next week. Until then, take care

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