Today’s guest is Lisa Popeil, a prominent voice teacher, voice researcher, musician, author and workshop presenter. Lisa shares her music industry experiences as a female recording artist who emerged in the 1980’s and how she has managed to sustain an enduring career in the industry by understanding the significance of resilience, tenacity and reinvention as a performing artist. Lisa describes how she has successfully transitioned across a variety of roles within the industry fuelled by her keen enthusiasm to learn, her natural curiosity and her love for music and the singing voice. This is a rare insight into Lisa’s personal and professional journey touring and performing with artists such as Frank Zappa and “Weird Al” Yankovic. In this episode, Lisa offers her pearls of wisdom based on her professional career that has spanned for over 50 years for the singing voice community to enjoy.

In this episode

01:08 – Introducing Lisa Popeil

09:01 – Lisa’s childhood

19.20 – Lisa’s early vocal training

22:57 – Deciding on a music school

24:03 – Lisa’s first job

28:35 – Writing music in the 80’s

33:55 – Where is the industry heading?

44:33 – Touring with Weird Al Yankovic

48:54 – Resolving problems on tour

52:19 – Managing sleep and self care

1:02:09 – Staying resilient and humble

1:04:41 – The impact of performance experience

1:14:15 – Lisa’s current plans & projects


More about Lisa Popeil

Lisa Popeil, MFA in Voice, has studied voice for 50 years, has taught singing for over 40 years and is the creator of the Voiceworks® Method, the Total Singer DVD and the Total Singer Workshop.

Lisa has written on commercial vocal genres for the ‘Oxford Handbook of Singing’ and ‘Oxford Handbook of Music Education’, ‘Journal of Voice’ and ‘Journal of Singing’ and has conducted voice research for 25 years.

Her books include ‘Sing at the Top of your Game’, ‘Sing Anything: Mastering Vocal Styles and ‘Daily Vocal Workout for Pop Singers’ CD. In addition to performing with Frank Zappa and touring with ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, her 1984 self-titled album was a Billboard ‘Top Album Pick’.


Find Lisa Popeil online

Episode Transcription

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  00:10

Hey, it’s Dr. Marisa Lee Naismith here and I’m so honoured to be sharing today’s interview round episode with you listen, and you will be inspired by amazing healthcare practitioners, voice teachers, and music industry professionals who will share their stories, knowledge and experiences within their specialised fields to help you live your best life every day. As singers, our whole body is our instrument and our instrument echoes how we feel physically, mentally and emotionally. So don’t wait any longer, take Charge and optimise your instrument now. Remember that to sing is more than just learning about how to use the voice, it’s about a voice and beyond. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  01:08

Today’s guest is Lisa popeil, a prominent voice teacher, voice researcher, musician, author and workshop presenter. Lisa shares her music industry experiences as a female recording artist who emerged in the 1980s and how she has managed to sustain an engineering career in the industry by understanding the significance of resilience, tenacity and reinvention as a performing artist. Lisa describes how she has successfully transitioned across a variety of roles within the industry fueled by her keen enthusiasm to learn her natural curiosity and her love for music and the singing voice. This is a rare insight into Lisa’s personal and professional journey touring and performing with artists such as Frank Zappa and Weird Al Yankovic. In this episode, Lisa offers her pearls of wisdom based on her professional career that has spanned for over 50 years for the singing voice community to enjoy. Lisa popeil MFA in voice has studied voice for 50 years, has taught singing for over 40 years, and is the creator of Voiceworks method, the total singer DVD and the total singer workshop. Lisa has written on commercial vocal genres for the Oxford Handbook of singing and Oxford Handbook of music education, journal of voice and Journal of singing and has conducted voice research for 25 years. Her books include sing at the top of your game, sing anything, mastering vocal styles and daily vocal workout for pop singers CD. In addition to performing with Frank Zappa and touring with Weird Al Yankovic, her 1984 self titled album was a Billboard Top album pick. So without further ado, let’s welcome today’s guest, Lisa popeil.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  03:27

Hi, Lisa, and welcome to a voice and beyond. It’s such a pleasure to have you here today and thank you so much for joining us.

Lisa Popeil  03:36

Oh, thanks for asking me Marisa!

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  03:38

So how’s LA life at the moment.

Lisa Popeil  03:41

Well, we actually had some rain, which is you know, big news. And LA life has been this last year for for me, I’ve been very, very fortunate in that it has been a time of great creativity, balance, being unable to travel. It’s been taking some getting used to but I have and it’s just beautiful here. It’s even rainy days are beautiful here. So every day is a beautiful day. And I’ve had time to garden and spend a lot of time outdoors and find a good balance between teaching, creating videos, watching a tonne of TV and doing my exercise classes and sleeping. So it’s just been a really balanced time and it’s coming to a close that normal life happens. So we’ll see. We’ll see what that’s like trying to dip our toes back into what was and what will be again, it’s going to be a transition for a lot of people, including me, I haven’t been to a grocery store in over a year. So I haven’t done anything, haven’t done anything like that.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  04:55

I wouldn’t be complaining about not going to a grocery store. You know, I even get all my groceries delivered now. I actually don’t like going to supermarkets. But that’s just me.

Lisa Popeil  05:10

I think a lot of people are going to be having, they’re gonna get spoiled by delivery permanently.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  05:17

Exactly. Now I want to share with our listeners how we first met. Now, I don’t know if you remember this, but it was in Florence. And we were at PEVOC. And it was, I think, 2015, if I remember correctly, and I was, I don’t want to say a conference virgin, because that’s probably not the politically correct thing to say. But it was one of my first conferences that I attended. And I was in awe of everybody there, including you, I knew who you were, because I’d cited you in my dissertation. And, and I remember seeing you and you’re on your own. And I thought I want to go and speak to Lisa, I want to meet Lisa. And I knew you were from LA. I really, and and all that time I was there, I felt like an imposter and everyone was so much smarter than me. So I didn’t want to go up to you and talk to you about anything to do with voice in case I said the wrong thing, or that I came across as being silly or not as smart as everyone else that was there. So I remember thinking… how do I approach a singing teacher from LA? So I came over to you? And I said, Hi, Lisa. I’m Marisa. So what do you think about the Kardashians? Do you remember that conversation?

Lisa Popeil  06:53

I remember standing on the patio with you meeting you on the patio. I don’t remember about the Kardashians. What did I say in response?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  07:03

Well, you could relate. Look, you were so gracious and so kind, because you could have actually looked at me as though I was some kind of weirdo. But you responded by saying that? Well, as a matter of fact, I used to be the babysitter for one of their friends. One of the twins. Do you remember that? 

Lisa Popeil  07:28

No. I have never babysat in my life.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  07:31

Really? Maybe it was it that you were god mother. But you came back with a response that you somehow knew one of their friends?

Lisa Popeil  07:39

Oh, yes, I have. I have a god. I think you have a god daughter. That was a best friend. With one of the girls. She was on the show? Yes, I did. I did say that. Yes. Yes.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  07:56

So I immediately felt really relaxed. And then you and I started to hang out. And then one of the days that we had off we went on a bus trip to a shopping mall with all the outlets. And it was Irene Bartlet, myself and you on this bus. And I remember you telling me the story of your life. I won’t go into details, as they’re, you know, quite personal. But you you shared quite openly your life story as a child and things that happened throughout your lifetime. And honestly, I thought I was listening to a podcast. I want to end it would have been a it was just an amazing, amazing story. And if ever anyone is going on a long road trip, you need to take Lisa with you because I’m sure. But time will fly. I was sitting there just in awe of all your stories. And so where this is all heading is that you had an extraordinary childhood. Your father in particular was an innovator, a creator of very highly successful businessman. I’d like you to maybe share a little bit about him. And maybe tell us like, was it hard being your father’s daughter?

Lisa Popeil  09:28

Well, my father was a depression era. He was born in 1915 and he, I don’t really know why he was so driven. But he and his brother didn’t finish high school. They lived they grew up in New York, and came from a family of pitchman people who not only would sell things, but also demonstrate them, meaning having hand skills and a lot of things were kitchen items choppers and slicers and knives. And he in the 40s moved to Chicago, thinking that at the end of the war, that it was a good place to start a business and how he went from that to having a factory with hundreds of employees. That part of the story, I’m not sure, but he and his brother started this company called popeil brothers. And they went on to really influence American selling, selling techniques on early television, using late night television and cheap, cheap, commercial time, to make very simple commercials. And his, um, it wasn’t just him, it was the whole family, their idea was, if you could create a product that solved people’s problems, and make it available easily for them, it would make a great gift for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day for Christmas. And, and they could do many things. That, it wasn’t just a business for him, it was really an art, to say, Okay, here’s a problem. And I’m going to think of something or adapt something that already exists, I’m going to improve on it and, and haven’t do as many things as possible, and then sell them, sell it like there’s no tomorrow, right. And he had, in the end, he had over 200 patterns. He had, he wound up having one after another factories and at Christmas time, they were hundreds of people working, they had everything in house, they made the commercials in the in the building, they had the tool and die, the the the assembly line in the basement, the boxing, the art he oversaw, he oversaw everything. And I found it fascinating. I used to love to go to the factory and just see how it all worked. And then my brother, who is a lot older than I am also was in the business and started his own company called Bronco, which was actually a competitor of my father. So they they both had their television commercials and their their various products. My brother Ron, Ron Popeil started with records and his stretch he reached out and did more than just then just kitchen items. And I loved it. And I think what I gained from that, or what I come naturally to the table with, as a, as a voice teacher, is this idea of keeping things simple, but exciting, and solving problems, coming up with solutions to everyday problems, and making, trying to make a living doing it. I’m not successful in the way they were because they they you know, they reached around the world with the commercials and the products. I need more sleep than I think they they did, but I, I just was inspired by my father always said whatever you want to do, Lisa because I had no interest in the kitchen, or or family life I wanted to I wanted to do something that was intellectually really stimulating that I can continue to learn in and he supported my music and at the time, at the end of his life, he passed away in 1984 that was I was a singer, songwriter, musician, pianist, arranger, producer, you know, with with visions of stars in my eyes, so he was always very supportive you know, just “how’s your music doing how’s your music” and it’s doing, It’s going great until I quit in 1987 yet but for that whole period of time, he was nothing but but um really behind me and and I started music when I was four. I started with piano lessons. We had a piano in the house. And even though my parents weren’t music, they didn’t think of themselves as musical. My father learned to play piano from a book, it was probably from the 1920s or 30s called 20 lessons, ‘play piano with 20 lessons’ by mail. What he was actually able to read music play chunk, chunk chunk with the left hand and play the melody with his right and quite well from this 20 lesson course so I think his, he had natural talent and his his side of the family that they they’re all a lot of them are in voice now of voiceover artists, musicians, things so when I was little I thought I didn’t I didn’t have any talent because I was just very ordinary as a, as a singer. I remember how I sounded and believe me, it was just very average. When I was six, my mom said would you like singing lessons I said, Okay, so I just kind of said yes to everything. But the and I wasn’t good at a lot of that. You know, do you want do ice skating? okay, but I was good at anything physical, I wasn’t good at horseback, you know, cold, it’s cold and muddy, and I feel bad about the horses. But music I stuck with and I just, I just kept, I just didn’t quit. And I tell parents today I said, Just don’t let them quit, find a way to not let them quit, because they’ll regret it. Yeah, and there are moments particularly in instrumental training, where you just, you just want to explode because you’re so frustrated. And I learned an important lesson about that feeling of I’m going to or just want to hit my fists on the keyboard. That was when my brain was growing. But I came to that conclusion, because the next day after that horrible feeling of I’m going to explode from frustration, I could do, I could do it. And I thought, oh, maybe there’s a relationship between that awful feeling. And my brain is actually growing. So I like to think that that that awful feeling is actually Oh, it’s a good thing. My brain is growing. And I’ll, when I wake up after I sleep tonight, it’ll be easy. And I don’t know if it’s really true or not. But I tell my, my piano students, and I tell them.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  16:09

Yeah! But that’s a really good attitude to have. And that’s a an attitude of not giving up. And I’m sure some of that attitude probably was inspired by what your father did, and the work that he did. And that curiosity and that wanting to learn and to grow and to know more. And I know that about you, and you are constantly reinventing yourself. So how did you come then from being a little girl that was learning the piano to becoming a performer in the 80s?

Lisa Popeil  16:45

Well, I started performing when I was 6 years old, and I had vocal problems. By the time I was 7, I don’t remember that. So it may have been nodules or pre nodules, because basically, I just been totally yell. I remember being six and singing 76 trombones at the top of my lungs, because they said, Lisa, Louder, louder, Lisa. And then by the time I was 7, my mother said

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  17:11

And who was this though?

Lisa Popeil  17:12

something wrong with your voice. So she found a, a voice teacher for me. And there weren’t a lot of voice teachers available. And they were all classical. So we found a nice lady from Germany, who had been an opera singer of some renown in Germany. And she took me on as a student, even though she did not accept children under the age of 14, but my mother bullied her into taking me told this woman she said, my mom, my mom told it like it is said, What What am I supposed to do take it to another crappy singing teacher that did the trick. And these are the Gedling rip, she just passed away this past year in her 90s took me on and I I just did classical with her. And I enjoyed it. I loved learning languages, and stepping into the world of the past, and, but there were a lot of exercises, and not a lot of explanation. And I like to understand what I’m doing. And I think part of that comes from learning piano. Because when you learn piano, you can see your fingers. You can you know, you can, it’s mechanical, but the way leading was taught then and to some extent now was all based on imagery and imagination and feeling vibration. But the simple things like what’s vibrato I it there was no explanation or what is chest voice or head voice? No x, you know, just there weren’t answers. And when I was 11, I was starting to just starting to write my own songs. I was I was listening to Carole King, and john and playing along and ah, maybe it was it was 11 then, uh, no, I don’t think I was 11 yet, but no, no, I couldn’t have been listening to them. Because that was a little long time ago. Yeah, I didn’t realise that that that came later. Anyway, I I wanted to know how people on the radio sound and I think I’ve told you the story in the past because I couldn’t sing like people on the radio and they had no lessons. So here I am going an hour every week to the Fine Arts Building in Chicago, and I’m learning learning I guess and I can’t sound like anybody on the on the radio. Yeah, I would. I would. I could sound like a pop singer on the low notes. But when I when I could only sing in chest voice. I had no idea how to keep the chest voice. I mean, head voicr, sorry, I don’t if I said that wrong. I wouldn’t sound I couldn’t sound like my chest voice on my high notes without it hurting or just sounding bad. And I went to my teacher and I said at with some trepidation. I have to ask I said, “I would like to learn about pop singing” Well, you could have, her head blew off.

Lisa Popeil  17:14

She was so angry at me “If you learn if you try to do this kind of music, you will lose everything we have worked for” She just felt that if I learned pop singing, I would have vocal demise. And I would probably wind up as a heroin addict. Because at that time, in the late 60s when you, anytime she would hear anything about pop singers, they always had just died at the age of 27. You know?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  20:41

Yes and some did. And some didn’t.

Lisa Popeil  20:46

I didn’t know anything about that world. So I thought, Yeah, okay. I’m not gonna go there anymore. I’m on my own. And just still all these unanswered questions and still tonnes of exercises, very tiring, slow exercises, and in an hour lesson, 15 minutes of it. Were vocal exercises, wow. And 10 minutes of thinking. And I thought, well, it doesn’t seem like a really efficient way to, to progress. You know, it seemed like there’s so many wonderful songs, even just in the classical world. So I was starting to formulate what I thought was missing from traditional. The teaching of voice. Yeah. When I was 15, I moved to California. And I had my first experience in recording studio, I won some little contest at a club. And the the reward was an hour studio time. And I was hooked. I loved it. I was, I was so fascinated by all the equipment. This was in the early 70s. When girls didn’t do that stuff. They they were the singer. They were the pianist, they the keyboard player that the guys handled the mechanical stuff. But I wanted to learn what all the buttons and levers did. Because I knew it made me sound good. And I am a control, a control purse, I like to you know, have some…..

Lisa Popeil  21:05

Welcome to the club!

Lisa Popeil  22:10

when you know what you want, and I didn’t, but if you know what you want, you want to get it just right and be part of the team instead of just the girl singer. So then what happened? I kept looking for teachers. And I could find either classical teachers or I could find pop teachers who really didn’t, they didn’t sing well, they might turn red in the face when they sing or the blood vessels of pop out of the neck. So I just picked up little bits in here and there. And then I studied in Arizona, I studied a couple years of humanistic psychology continued, continue to write my own songs. And my teacher and I went to Prescott College in northern Arizona, which was very magical place. And my my mentor there said, it’s time for you to go to music school.

Lisa Popeil  23:00

I said, Well,

Lisa Popeil  23:01

where should I go? And he says, Well, why don’t you go to Cal Arts and Cal Arts is a short for California Institute of the Arts. And it was started by the Disney family. Wow. Walt isn’t incredible. Its concept is wonderful. It’s a small private school with five buildings. And each building has a different specialty. So there’s the School of Music, the School of Art, the School of Dance, School of Theatre and school of film and animation. And I believe the Cal Arts was really mostly a farm school for the Walt Disney Company. And then they added the and I did piano I did composition. I don’t know if I told you this, I did, you know classical, contemporary classical composition. And I did classical voice and in the meantime, I was still writing my songs at home, trying to figure out how to how to take chest voice up higher without it sounding bad. Man, I got a master’s degree and eventually in classical voice, and as soon as I got out of school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And I had a boyfriend, my boyfriend at the time was a big Frank Zappa fan and said, Frank Zappa is doing an audition for his upcoming tour. And my boyfriend was a drummer. And, and I said, Well, I’ll go with you. I’ll just go with you. And you know, just give him some moral support, help him set up his drums, whatever. So I went and long story short, and it is a long story. I want to auditioning even though I didn’t know what anybody I didn’t know the music. I mean, I had heard of Frank Zappa and I heard his reputation as being let’s say challenging music in the least and I I have gifts and deficits like most people, my gift is I can sight read. I can particularly piano I can sight read, but my deficit and it’s a big one. I can’t memorise All right. It’s like I overtrain that part of my brain and the other part of my brain that memorises it is not it’s hardly there at all. It’s all shrivelled up. So anyway, I was in the band as though comedy relief mostly kind of sexy comedy relief because it’s like I could make him laugh. And I, but it was four hours of quite unplayable music on the on the very beginning of synthesisers. So it was where you had to programme. Every element of the sound. This was 1981. Yes. Learn all this new dancing I was doing. I thought it would be funny would be synced automatically, but with lounge lizard jazz phrasing or stylings. And I just think that was funny. And he did too. So I kept it up. And then he’d say things like, Well, do you play saxophone? And I’d say, no, it goes, Well, try so I got a saxophone Bharata saxophone could not play it. I just, I just would honk.

Lisa Popeil  26:05

I would honk and then I would fall off his seat and so brought the violin, which I also couldn’t play. So I brought the violin and you know, just funny funny stuff. Yeah, anyway, I didn’t last long because they really needed a really experienced touring keyboard player. I was not that I was just out of college 25… What 24 or 25 the singing I had it was the keep four hours of music that, you know only superhumans could play and memorised and in any key in any style. I forgot to mention that, it’s like okay, we’re doing it country….

Lisa Popeil  26:49

You know, give me something to read here. Yeah, but I did get to perform with him at amazing. Maybe one of the greatest experiences of my life performing my very first time for 5000 people in lingerie. I think I may have been the first person in panties bra and hooker her heels on a rock stage because, that was before Prince came out in his little lingerie bit. That was a big hit.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  27:23

I remember seeing footage of you in the French maid’s outfit.

Lisa Popeil  27:28

There’s photos online, there is photos online, and….. So yeah, prepare yourself. I hope you don’t think less of me. But you know, it’s showbiz. And I knew that my job was to make the boss happy. And I knew he was a sexist. Yeah, borderline misogynistic kid, really just an old kid. And I just knew his audience would go nuts. And then they did. I started with a little apron. But that came off. And I still I still do conferences. I’ve still got conferences on the brain. I still occasionally do Zappa festival. So I was supposed to be in Norway last November. And that’s been postponed to probably hopefully, this coming November for a Zappa festival and I still wear completely inappropriate, but memorable outfits. As I, you kow, do my my three songs that im known for…

Lisa Popeil  28:29

yeah, so that was, it was great. And, and then I just then I decided to really hit the music business real hard. And I did that for six years. And I, I wrote a lot of 80s, pop funk, some ballads, and I still and I, and I’m, I’m I got a couple of songs Up, up in contention for an upcoming Emma Thompson movie. So I’m taking all my old material and working with a music supervisor. So hopefully, it’ll live again. You know, I wrote some some of the demos, I’m playing all the instruments, they’re sent, but I’m playing all of them and singing and wrote the songs and I just want them to have a life beyond their little closet shelf thing.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  28:29


Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  29:16

Yes. I’ve heard a lot of your music that you wrote in the 80s and brozen recorded in the 80s that you’ve kind of been slowly leaking out to us, easing us with that music. And it’s really good. Like, I don’t know how, you would never signed. I mean, there were so many artists in the 80s that didn’t have half the talent. Their music wasn’t half as good… How were you…

Lisa Popeil  29:50

I did have a record deal. But they, but they, I think they picked the wrong song. They did a song that was a ballad, and really a ballad is not how you break a new artist. It’s just not how you break a new artist so, but it taught me, about, that the music business and maybe the the entertainment business is not a meritocracy. It’s it’s so much about luck. I mean, I felt I had everything going for me and I still couldn’t break through it. One of the problems was rap started and when this sort of what I believe, forgive me any rap fans out there. To me it was a a non musical style, kind of about cultural coarsening of popular music that exists to this day, if anyone saw the Grammys last night. What What is offensive is now entertainment or the norm. And I think Am I just too old and I am I a prude? No, I was. I felt this way when Madonna hit the scene and was humping lampposts. In her videos, I had that same feeling of I want the music, I want entertainment. But do I have to be? Does it have to be shocking to Yes, I mean, I guess I did my share, I have a music video, you will never see that. See, it’s very hyper sexualized. But there’s still I always felt we should have some class because yes, musicians and entertainers are role models. And I feel like we should uplift and empower not basin and bass, be more bass or course in ourselves, or make ourselves into overtly sexual objects. But I’m just ranting about now,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  31:46

there is something that that I just like to touch upon, based on what you’ve just said. And Firstly, when you were talking about Frank Zappa, and you were saying that, you know, as a woman, you knew that you had to behave in a certain way you had to conduct yourself in a certain way, you had to look a certain way. I mean, at any point, did you feel that that was degrading? Or was it something that you thought, Well, if I want to work, I have to do this and just suck it up and zip it? 

Lisa Popeil  32:22

No, I, Actually, I did not feel degraded or manipulated in any way at all. Everything I did. And what I wore was for his delight. And I have this idea that, that when you wear something that makes people, women to feel a kind of delight, even if it’s a little hyper sexualized. I think that’s a gift you give people so there’s this, where’s the line then is the question between crass and interesting, or artful versus vulgar? And I didn’t want to get into vulgar. But yeah, it was. So everything I did for him was because it was to me the correct artistic decision. And at the bottom of it was because I wanted to, but after the show in December of 81, he, he brought me in was working in a studio, he brought some other music out and wanted me to record it. And there was one song and I felt that the content the lyrical content was misogynistic in a way that I, I didn’t want to be associated with it. And I told him that and I never worked with him again. So you just go with what you feel comfortable. Yeah. This idea that the the, the more crass I am, but it works. You see in the business, 

Lisa Popeil  33:55

I’m wondering sometimes, to my dismay, and I’d like to talk with you about this is I wonder if being a good singer, really just if it matters anymore, or if just having you just showing a lot of skin and, and putting your legs in very, you know, gynaecological positions. Yes. And just in wrapping, is, is that what really matters now? Was that the only way you can have a career? Yeah. Am I leading people down a wait an alley that there’s no way they can do it? If they’re to have talent and the looks and the ambition, yes. Is there any? Is there any chance for them? You know, what, what, what do you think?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  34:39

Yes. Look, I think that you know, there’s a problem with women in the industry, and it’s for women in the industry. I think that the industry is definitely highly sexualized and unless women are wearing skimpy clothing, or you are someone totally different like Adele, who was just magical. You know, you have to, I feel that there’s like an assembly line happening, what is in today, you, you have to grab those five minutes, do whatever you can to get your five minutes of fame. And then the assembly line moves on to the next product. And music is written that way it’s written, it’s written in a way to be consumed. It’s like, music has become like the McDonald’s, the fast food industry. Where what’s in today’s gone tomorrow, the flavours are changing all the time. And what’s unique? Is it no longer exists? And is music going to be memorable? No. And I feel that not only is it a tough call for women, and I feel that there was always this issue of the casting couch for women in the industry. And I know this for a fact in here in Australia. And so that there’s that problem, where women have to sometimes do things that they’re not happy to do in order to have that fame. But I think too, that music artists have a responsibility to the emerging artists. And some of those are the young children that are listening to this music. And young children have become highly desensitised to swearing, to adult things, and also to what they see the performers wearing as being normal. And I know this because I work with young children. And when they bring the song to me, the first thing I asked them is, is there swearing in the song? And? And usually, the answer will be, I’m not sure. Because they just don’t know anymore. They’re so used to it. It’s so part of the normal. And I tell you like I am teaching in religious school at present, and I would be fired if if the principal happened to walk in at a point of time, where one of those explicit words comes up randomly, because the child forgets that it’s there. Oh, my gosh, I would not have a job, I would have been fired so many times because the kids don’t even remember they don’t know that those words that language is there anymore. So and then even when they do they still beg me to sing the song because they love that song. So we do have a bit of a problem going on in the music industry. Is it a problem? That’s new? I think there’s always been problems. But the problems have been changing. The problems evolve as the music industry evolves. So we have a new set of problems to what we would have had to say back in the 80s. So that’s my very long answer to a very short question, Lisa.

Lisa Popeil  38:13

I had a new student this week, who’s actually very talented. And when I asked her before we met, I asked her to send me a little video of her singing. And I heard something that I’d never actually heard myself before. And that is that when she’s sang, not only was every note in tune, but she’s sang as though her voice were auto tuned. And she was singing acapella. And I’ve heard about this, but I’ve never experienced it. And I was shocked because I don’t even know if I could imitate that. And I asked her if she knew what auto tune was. And she didn’t. Yeah, and I talked about, about how singing in tune is a really a gift. But I also said that and I told her a little about auto tune and what it is and where it started and how it’s used. And I said that really good singers because I think she could be really good. Obviously, she has an incredible ear, that, that really good singers, don’t sound like machines. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  39:16

Nor do they need to.

Lisa Popeil  39:20

Yes, nor do they need to. They just have to be in tune enough. So they don’t sound out of tune. But, because I’m a producer too. So when I see someone and i and i look at each note that they’re saying, I don’t I only we tune or change the tuning if something’s obviously added to everything I let leave there because it adds to the feeling. But I realised that one of, besides just teaching her the basic skills of voice because she doesn’t know any of that. And it’s my pleasure to show her the basics because where they work right away and she was just sounded so much better. Yeah, half an hour. But I realised that one of my jobs and I think this would apply to you, too, is exposure exposing people to great singing to great singers in the past and talk about how the singers are revered and are appreciated for decades. Not just for the next five years. Yeah, also song styles, I’ll say, you know, Siyad and Sony, you know, yeah, it feels good. It’s fun to sing along with but there’s it has no melody. And I said, it has no melody. So therefore, I don’t really know. We’ll see. I may be wrong, but I don’t think we’ll be people will be enjoying this song as much. In 20 years, absolutely. Something natural about we want melody instead of just two notes or three notes over and over again with a good

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  40:56

Yeah. And I think Tik Tok, in as much as you know, people, boohoo technology, but Tik Tok is actually doing a good thing at the moment. There’s a lot of music that is coming back to life again. Due to Tik Tok. I will sing along with people singing old music. Yes. So it’s given a lot of those old tunes. For example, Sweet dreams by Fleetwood Mac. None of us know. We’re here at I go again, you know that?

Lisa Popeil  41:32

Yeah. The guy… Yeah, with the cranberry juice? Yes!

Lisa Popeil  41:34

Yeah, right. They love it.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  41:34

Yeah, for example. I mean, a lot of today’s generation would never have heard of Fleetwood Mac, if it wasn’t for Tik Tok. And that’s what’s happening. There are songs that I say to my students, okay, because there is such a small number of songs that they can actually sing that’s in the charts at the moment, we have to revisit old music and the number of times I pull up a song One was put your records on by Corinne Bailey, Rae. I think that was her name? “Girl put your record on”, you know? Yeah.

Lisa Popeil  41:58

I 70’s, I play 80s. And yeah, I only ever find. Someone says I don’t like it. Now I let them do what they want to do first. Yeah, they know that. I’m with them. I support them. And I’m not putting their tastes down. Except that I say, I have an idea. I can hear you doing this. 

Lisa Popeil  42:34

What’s not to like, they like the melody. They like the rhythm of it. And my happiest students are the ones whose parents I mean, because I’m not working with with kids anymore. But I’m trying not to. But when their parents play all the great music from the 60s 70s 80s and that’s what the kids like. That’s my favourite. I hate what’s on the radio. Now. I know, okay, this is gonna work. Yes with me.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  43:03

I know, I had a boy the other day, well I shouldn’t say Boy, 18 year old student. Who, he’s a second year student at the Conservatorium of Queensland, in the popular music programme where I teach him, and I introduced him to David Bowie music, because these kids had not even heard of artists like David Bowie, and he loved the music. And he ended up choosing a David Bowie song. But he’s, yeah. But I’m going to take the discussion back a little bit now. Because one of the things that I would really love to talk to you about and I’m so fascinated with, and I’ve heard this before from you, and I think our audience would absolutely love to hear about your experiences on the road with Weird Al Yankovic, now, because you know that the show is basically centred around self care. And this pertains to being a singer, and a female singer on the road, touring with a rock band, and what that experience was like and how your self care had to really kick in. So maybe the first question would be like, with that tour, I know it was a number of months, many, many shows, maybe you can tell our listeners, what that kind of vocal demand was like for you. And what was that vocal demand?

Lisa Popeil  44:47

Yes, it was. I knew it was going to be once in a lifetime experience and I wanted to really soak it up. So I was in my 60s and here’s my, my first experience on a tour bus, it was the summer of 2019. And it was three months, around the US and Canada, it was a total of 67 shows!

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  45:13

oh my goodness,

Lisa Popeil  45:15

65 cities. So there were a couple of places where he has a big fan base. Particularly Particulike Seattle where we would do two shows a day, I can’t remember where we also did two shows a day. But mostly it was one one show and we the band that he works with, have been with him for decades. And I started working with Al in the very beginning of his career, the second album, he wrote a song called Mr. popeil. Again, long story about why he wrote Mr Popeil. So cute, great photos available out there, if you look hard enough of me performing with him in a start recording recording with him. In fact, it was funny because the his record label turned out to be the record label I had my deal with with no connection. Yeah, so that that was something but so I have been on a lot of his albums over the years. And in 2018, he he’s I want to do something different for my next tour. Because he usually does going out with the band. He said for 2019. I want to have a full orchestra and a conductor and backup singers because he never had backup singers, would you would you like to come on the tour and I had to think about it for a few seconds. Because that would be a whole summer without teaching. And and no, I didn’t know how well I be because I was planning to tour with Frank Zappa. And I was given this big talk about how, how warlike it is to go on tour, you know, especially in the winter time because Frank would say it’s going to be 90 degrees on stage, it’s going to be 40 degrees off stage. You know, if you’ve got a fever and diarrhoea you don’t leave the stage, you know, so he was giving me this talk about touring is like commando warfare. Those were Frank Zappa’s words. Yeah. So I had this idea of how hard it was going to be. Well, it wasn’t partly because it’s like, it was like family, I brought in the two other girls, the two other backup singers. So I had a history with them. They were talented. We liked each other. We were committed to being there for each other. I knew the guys in the band was my first time on a tour bus. And I really took to it. I had no problem sleeping in that little thing. I called it a coffin because it was so small. And we were treated really nicely. We have we unlike other tours, I’ve heard about in other tours, things things I’ve heard are things like don’t talk to the artist. Or, or there was something else you just don’t complain. Don’t say anything…

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  48:00

A woman. Yeah…

Lisa Popeil  48:02

Yes, this was more like family and there was squabbling, you know that this because we’re all a bunch of kooky people, but it was like family. And there was a lot of love and and Al was very, is a very warm person. People, a lot of people don’t realise what a what a warm, caring person he is. So he helped create an environment where we were all in it together. And the work was not that difficult. The challenges that, it wasn’t hard on our voice, it was a one and a half hour show.

Lisa Popeil  48:37

We were centre stage, which was so amazing. We weren’t off in the corner in the dark. I was right behind out. Every night, there was a 40 to 60 piece orchestra behind me. Wow. And a conductor. And so there was no variation. I mean, there were problems with the inner ear monitors. That was very challenging because it sounded completely different every night and I have no idea why, it shouldn’t. So vocally, there was not a single problem. The only problem vocally, because I’ve been coaching Al through the last 35 years or whatever with his voice. And he started to lose his voice the first week. Oh, really? He was really freaking about it, Yes. And it was because he had taught a lesson with someone else. Someone said “you got to go see this person in LA” and he come out of the lesson with what, exercises, 40 you know, like a CD of these really violent sounding I mean, in my really rough on the voice. Wow, I think NIF particularly among a lot of La teachers that if you just do your exercises, you’ll be great. You know, I don’t, I am a non exercise person if you know how to how to sing. Then rest your voice. Do a little warm up, check your voice, see how it is and then save it for the stage. Except so I just said here’s what I recommend. I I said, I would not do those exercises. We you don’t hear us warming up. But if we were singing it’s because we want to sing. It’s we’re checking our voices out. But we don’t have like a routine warmup. So just try it. Don’t imagine you’re already warmed up. Because after the show, he’d have maybe a to our meet and greet. So he was using his voice here. Yeah. And as soon as he stopped using that, that exercise CD, his his voice was perfect for the rest of the tour. He never had a single problem. So to me that just we affirms this idea that there’s this myth that warming up is is everything and to me, it is not it is knowing how to sing. And, and saving it for the stage. And then and, and then protecting your voice and using less voice not more voice to keep your voice when you have an intense voice to use. And he was 1661 at the time and he would be screaming some of the songs and and then he’s just got an amazing underrated voice because he’ll be screaming and growling one second and the next. He’s singing this sweet ballad with this floating falsetto it. Yeah, he’s at and he’s running around the audience doing handstands and running around and costume changes. One of the most difficult things was was performing outdoors when it’s 90 degrees and 90% humidity. Thank goodness, I and the other ladies could wear little. But the guys had costume changes, including full neoprene or for the Star Wars part. They were wearing wool. So they’re, you know, really it was. So the heat and the humidity of a summer tour was tough. I would have been very concerned about getting sick.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  51:52

Yes, I know we had this discution

Lisa Popeil  51:54

I did get sick. I missed one night only, which for me was really good. I only missed one night Milwaukee. I had a fever. And and I was fluey I guess and I then I had a slight fever for another six weeks. When I say slight I mean really slight fever for the next six weeks. And and it’s because we’d be on the bus with it, we’d be on the bus at about midnight 12:30, the bus would leave and it would drive to our hotels. And again, we were so lucky, we got our own individual hotel room at very nice places. I just love hotels. But we might get there at 3am or 4am, or five or six or seven, usually it was around four or five, we would get but sometimes it was 3am. And then we’d have to quickly wake up. If we were sleeping.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  52:51


Lisa Popeil  52:52

Dress, get out, get your suitcase, get into your hotel room and go back to sleep. So I was getting we were getting a tonne of sleep. Us girls might get together in the beginning of the tour we’d get together for lunch or one o’clock, we’d go and see the sights together. And then the van would pick us up around four or five, four o’clock, to take us to the venue with the band. But as the tour went on, we just stayed in our rooms. And you could just sleep until the van picked you up basically, if you wanted to. So sleep sleeping a lot was not an issue having privacy and quiet and a lovely In fact, not an issue. We had to eat, we didn’t have lunch provided. So you had to figure out what you were going to do about eating during the day. But then, when we get to the venue was all catered. And they had a whole vegan section and they had a whole non regular carnivores section. The food for the most part was fantastic. That’s usually eight o’clock. At 8:30pm we’d start singing because the orchestra played for half an hour then we’d sing from 8:30pm to 10pm. And then there was the meet and greet if we wanted to go or we could just go back to the bus. So sleep was not an issue, and I’m really grateful. But even so I did, I was fighting something. And it was fatigued. I was so blessed though because many of the days that I had this fever, it would dissipate at night. And so by the time I’d get on stage, I wasn’t 100% but I didn’t feel like I had a fever.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  54:35

Yes, yes.

Lisa Popeil  54:36

I felt like I was I was living this this it wasn’t a natural thing. I stand off stage and look at 1000s of happy faces. Whether it was in some indoor fabulous movie palace from the 1930s or whether we’re outside. Every day was just, I can’t believe this. I just, also, the fans just love him and they’re good people, you know, these aren’t violent people, they’re all bunch of nerds. And an Al for them is, is somebody who tell us basically the message is, ‘it’s okay to be different. It’s okay to not be beautiful. It’s okay to be smart. It’s okay to be a nerd.’

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  55:25


Lisa Popeil  55:26

and they’re so appreciative. I’d meet, I take, get people backstage and fans, I’d meet super fans, and they, you know, I’d get them backstage and and get to meet him. And in one, you know, some memorable moments like one one couple said, Lisa, you know, this is just another show for you. But for us, this is one of the greatest experiences of our lives and one that we will cherish forever.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  55:53

That’s incredible.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  55:55

gratitude of the fans for their love of Al, love of his music. And no matter what I said, but what’s it going to be like when he does another tour, and there’s no orchestra and there’s no backup singers? And he said, he said, most people said to me about almost all people said, We don’t care what he does. Whatever he does, we know will be great because he’ll really put his you know, his mind into it. And he’ll, he’ll make it it’ll be great. So I was glad because to me, it wasn’t going to get better for his fans than this music in. In this show with so much. We had choreography. I was dancing my little toosh off for an hour and a half.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  56:39

So that was your exercise for the tour. 

Lisa Popeil  56:42

That was it. That was, that was all he had to do. Yeah, choreography and I really owned it like, yeah, I can dance!

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  56:50

I can imagine you doing that? 

Lisa Popeil  56:56

I got it going on.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  56:58

Yeah, absolutely. Um, so I remember when we’re at ICBT in Stockholm. And you’re on a panel you, you would, and the panel was discussing the tour demands for a pop singer.

Lisa Popeil  57:20

It was an interesting because I I entered I brought in my friends Kim Chandler, and it was Craigslist. No, no, I’m sorry. Not Craigslist. He was our host and what a wonderful host. He was Yes. Daniel, my goodness. Daniel zanger Borge, because they had actually toured and I hadn’t in 2017. Yeah. Now but I had a lot of ideas because I’ve worked with with rock singers and I had a lot of like, tricks and gimmicks and things which I provided you know, with to Al as gifts, you know, whether it’s the big straw, the lacs mock straw, or the the vocal Mist USB vocal, you know the mist. Again, nothing is a substitution for having a mechanism of knowing how to sing, but he knew because we worked for years on that. Yeah. So and i thought was so interesting that that I had the most to say, even though I’d never done it before. And if I were to do that same topic again, I think I can do it by myself now.

Lisa Popeil  58:23

Actually, I’ve actually lived it. I knew this never going to happen again. You know, you’ll never have backup singers again. And if he’s if he said, Would you I would say yes. Because to see the United States to see Canada. It was just gorgeous. I went to places that I never would have gone to my whole life. One of the craziest moments was we were on the bus, the it’s in morning morning, we get the bus goes on a ferry we were in going from we’re going from Vancouver to the island of Victoria. And you wake up, you pile off the bus, you’re on a boat, you get off the bus, and you’re on a boat, and you go up and then there’s the ocean. It’s amazing, you know, when you just get out of bed, and now you’re on a boat with ocean, you know, it’s just those kind of moments and got to see my friends and all these different cities that that I get to meet with and it was but i know i don’t think most tours are as beautiful and memorable. No as ours was. We just had the right amount of people. And we took care of each other. Yeah, and I thought I’ve heard a lot of horror stories yet out back and forth. That was not ours. We still reminisce we realise how how special it was but also knowing that it would probably never happen again for us. The other two singers are professional session singers. They do a lot of session work and I Teach full time. So we knew it was something that was never to be recreated.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:00:06

Yes. I remember you telling me the story that or sharing the news that you were going to go on, on tour with Weird Al, and you said that you were concerned of how you’re going to deal with it. But you very much did have that attitude, I’ve got this opportunity. And I’m going to run with it. And all I was thinking was that bag of pills, and all those potions and all those things that you brought out in Stockholm, and I could see them in your luggage, and you sharing all this with everyone else on tour. But I’m glad. I’m glad that it was positive for you. Because for a lot of people, it’s not it’s not a positive experience. And I’ve been one of those people where I’ve been on tour with a rock band. And it was not a positive experience, every aspect of it, I had no sleep, I’d had bad food. I couldn’t take care of myself. And I was working with all men who had little regard for women. And if I complained, it was a Yeah, just typical woman complaining, even when I had valid reasons to complain, such as, hey, I’m the lead singer, I sing every song for four hours, and I can’t hear myself. It was like all that’s in your mind. We’re doing everything we can, but it was just the stage setup. And they wouldn’t listen, they had no respect. So I’m really glad that for you it was positive, and that it ticked all the boxes for you that you had privacy, that that all these things came together. And it was something that you look back on with great joy, that that’s fantastic. 

Lisa Popeil  1:01:56

And gratitude, we also have felt a lot of gratitude about it, you know, a lot of the some of the things were of that were of concern other things. I was right to have concerns about. But that still nothing’s easy or perfect in life. And once you realise that nobody has it all. Nobody gets it all. That’s one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned in life that for every pro there’s a con. Yeah. And when you think that nothing’s, nothing’s perfect, nobody’s perfect. You have good days and bad days. And you just have to keep trying to do your best and stay positive and have an attitude of gratitude. As corny as that is it really, really makes a difference. And but then was just playing luck, luck of having people around me that, that I have relationships with that. I mean, even the bus driver, the bus that was so fun is bust. It was a good old boy from Alabama, and sometimes would be in the morning, and I’d be sitting with him up there. And we we had nothing in common and we just we cared about each other and he would talk about his life and I’d care about we talked about my life and we’d just shoot the breeze and I remember talking to him after the tour and just saying, well, where are you? Because well I’m I’m here. I’m here as well. How’s it always shit I hated a sterile I said What’s going on? Oh, well, they, you know, they just would ignore him or put him in these mould ridden dumps, you know, terrible tour manager. And, you know, he said, I said, well, you’re gonna quit those Hell no, I’m not going to quit. But, you know, I’m just gonna tell him I’m not staying in that dump. You get me a remote. I’m sitting in a lab. You know, it was just just this hellacious, more typical story of, of it, but he but he wasn’t going to quit. You know, I thought well, good for you. You just put the stick up? How do you stick up for yourself without alienating people. And I think women have a harder time with that we tend to we want to be liked. And we’re afraid if we’re too tough. It’s only going to make for more problems. So, So I understand that. Yeah. So there’s just a lot luck. And as I was saying earlier in our conversation, nothing’s fair. Nothing’s a meritocracy. And you just 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, a famous entertainment story, or maybe any job which is you can you do this. Sure, you know, and then you like

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:04:43

and then figure it out,

Lisa Popeil  1:04:45

figure it out. You know, sometimes it works sometimes that’s the beginning of career.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:04:50

Yes. All these experiences that you’ve had, would you say that they have had a great impact in the way that you teach in your voice studio? Do you feel that if you didn’t have these performance experiences that you hadn’t had a performance background, that you would teach very differently?

Lisa Popeil  1:05:15

That is a wonderful question. And I’ve never been asked that. And I thank you for that question. As I think about it, I think my ideas about performance, and what makes a good performer really started as a teenager because I was always singing in musicals, or recitals, and then operas and then little, you know, at home recitals with my songs. And I realised early on that in order to be a good performer, it was about the audience and about being charismatic, and not thinking about myself every second, because I had to perform sick a lot. I used to be sick. I used to have migraines, or cramps or bladder infections. Well, which I’m completely healthy now compared to how I was growing up. So I knew I was used to singing with colds and bronchitis and flus and fever and near laryngitis. I was used to that and, and not making it the audience’s problem. Yeah, so more advanced, or the more professional experiences I had, were, don’t inform my teaching except to say, I’ve actually done it. And so many teachers I know have never done that they’ve gone to college, they they go ride and start their own voice studio, they’ve never aside from just doing their their bachelor’s recital. If at now they’re teaching other people and he never had, you know, 1000s of people out there and the the, the, the stress not, but you know, this, that’s a different experience. Yes. Singing for friends and family in a in a college setting. So it’s given me more confidence in a way to feel like I have something to offer but but really, my teaching is based on my childhood and teenage frustrations, that I wasn’t getting simple answers to questions that I thought every every singer, why wouldn’t every singer want to know what their ranges Even now I meet very few singers, professional singers who actually know which notes, their vocal cords can produce, they know their workable range, they’re comfortable range, but they don’t know their absolute range to me, your pianist and not know the notes on my keyboard is crazy. So things like that, or the book because I wasn’t a naturally good singer. And I’d have vocal problems and issues. I wanted to solve them. And I couldn’t get there were no solutions. So back to my family and this idea of you know, there’s problems there’s solutions, there’s value. I that’s really informed my teaching, I want to have every lesson with a student be as mind blowing as possible. So they instead of thinking, Oh, and six months of doing exercises, we’ll begin our first song and there are teachers who still do that. They know that they can’t keep students with like, okay, I just, I’m bored now. I’m not I’m not and I’m not better. So. But I have met a few teachers much to my shock and chagrin that still have that attitude. I want to get to the songs I technique is not the goal. There’s so many songs there’s so much to know about writing songs because I’m still the songwriter people still pay me my students still pay me, some, to write songs for them. And then I produce the songs and I I do like the background. So I’m still taking everything I’ve ever learned about acting about dance about choreography about gesture, about patter, how do you put a set together about recording technology, depending on what their interests are, the more I have to offer, the the longer they’ll stay with me the more value they get. I do I do anxiety reduction, I do. accent reduction. I work with with professional speakers to have speech improvement, or working with attorneys or cartoon voice people. Anything I know is what I can offer people so that there’s always something fascinating or pertinent to what what their needs are or what I think their needs are. And it I just don’t I just think exercise vocal exercises is tend to be this pit of activity and endeavour, and it can be a Dark Pit. Instead of I’m going to use exercises for a goal. And here’s what the goal is. And we’re going to do this this way for this goal, so that we can move on from there. And what is expression? And I have articles and videos and how do I move people? How do we 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 into I take them out of their, you know, mundane, boring everyday life,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:10:41


Lisa Popeil  1:10:42

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, you have consistency, while you have control of your voice, so it doesn’t bail on you, you get that 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 what 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 and creating an electric feeling for your for your audience. And I think so many singers and teachers just they forget about the joy, the joy part, and

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:11:53

I’m so on the same page. Yeah. 

Lisa Popeil  1:11:56

So joy and adding to the joy of other people. And and how to be fearless with your voice without, of course hurting it. And yes, 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 and are there are some very popular vocal pedagogy is taught widely in the world where pressing the vocal folds is accepted. And to me, it is the voice killer if somebody sings a lot.

Lisa Popeil  1:12:35

So I’m very opinionated when it comes to what to avoid and what to focus on. I’m a big support person, I believe that if you have good posture and support, a lot of problems will just go away. So I always start with that. Because that’s usually what’s missing no matter how many years they’ve studied voice those to not to stand up straight and sing from your diaphragm, I mean, precision strategies for posture and support that makes everything better with the goal of getting to the song sooner. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:13:12

Yes, no, that sounds amazing. And I agree with so much of what you said, I think it’s so important that teachers remember that the joy of singing needs to be there. And it needs to be there in the lesson not only to teach singers, how to bring joy to the audience, but also as teachers that we bring joy to the student in that lesson that the student leaves feeling better about themselves and when they first arrived. Now we’re going to wrap this up, Lisa, and one thing I know about you that well actually, I know quite a few things about you because you’re good friends. But one thing that that I love about you is that you’re such a geek and you are a nerd as well and people may not know this you love information, you love new knowledge, you are so curious by nature, and you can’t get enough of all those things. So I’d like to know what you’re working on right now. So where do you see yourself going in the next 12 months? What new products or what are you working on? Well,

Lisa Popeil  1:14:27

research wise I I’ve done some I think I like to think groundbreaking research into a vocal registers across the range. And that that high speed video research is now being revisited with the University, the University of Wisconsin at Madison lab and the team there. And I’m I’m getting some reaching out to to various friends and colleagues who may have access to high speed So maybe we can talk about this later. But if there’s a particular task to recreate what I did, so we can have a larger sampling, so it’s not just me. So let’s talk about that sometime. And I’ll tell you exactly what the task is. And maybe I’d love to have you. Oh, yeah, absolutely. I’ll be finding high speed video is very rare, because those, those pieces of equipment are easily $60,000. And they’re not, not easy to, you know, you have to find the right lab, you know, anyway, so we’ll talk so that that research project is ongoing. And I’ve had a lot of requests for a kind of an in depth teacher training course. And I’m, I’m thinking about it, I’m thinking, what would be the best format? Would it be video only? Would it be? Would it be live, and yet, videotape that?

Lisa Popeil  1:15:54

So I’m thinking about making lists of topics that that I would not necessarily share with the public. But I’ve been in next year, this is really shocks me, but next year, it will be 60 years, since I started my interest in singing and learning about singing,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:16:15

but you’re only 21….

Lisa Popeil  1:16:17

 I know, how did that happen.

Lisa Popeil  1:16:26

So I know, my passion. And my mission really, is to share my life’s work, everything I know and everything I will continue to know and share it with with the teachers but specifically I want to really focus on on working with teachers only. So that they can spread the good word and unity, you know, any style from opera, r&b belting, jazz country, so they just have more tools, so that they can do a lot of the teachers and only need a little tweaking of their voices as well. And, and just that just this stuff, they didn’t learn, they didn’t learn it, you know, from one teacher or from from college. So that’s my goal for the next 20 years is to continue doing search, continue working with teachers, in any style, and continuing to travel and get back to doing all the conferences, I had five European trips planned last year, all cancelled. So I’ll be hoping to go back and I’d like to do more in Australia, in Asia. And, you know, whatever people want or need that, I just want to say, Well, let me share, you know, and I’m also working in medical, some medical settings, talking about some medical things related to to singing and to pulmonary function. And so I just like doing all kinds of that. And I still like writing the songs and and producing music and for my my students who have always dreamed of it, and envisioned it, but didn’t. I’ve just tried to intuitively be there them and create something for them that may lead to something else or just be you know, like a dream come true. Yeah. But travel, travel travel.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:18:18

I’ll say this somewhere. I’m sure.

Lisa Popeil  1:18:21

We will see each other at least once a year. We have to make that happen. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:18:25

Well, we always have until COVID. But Lisa, you are so generous. You are one of the kindest people that I know. And yes, and I really appreciate your time on this podcast. 

Lisa Popeil  1:18:39

I appreciate you taking all your time to to let me you know, rant and give my opinion and my stories..

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:18:48

No, you’ve been so generous. And I’m sure we’re going to catch up soon. And I’m sure the listeners are going to love listening to all your stories and, and thank you for sharing with me and with them. And we look forward to catching up sometime soon and take care

Lisa Popeil  1:19:06

Yes, you to, getting our shots taken care of everybody. Let’s get on with it.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:19:14


Lisa Popeil  1:19:16

Thank you, Marissa. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:19:17

Thank you. Bye, Lisa.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:19:32

Hey, I hope you enjoyed this episode have a voice and beyond. Now is an important time for all of us to spread positivity and empowerment in our singing voice community. It’s time for you to invest in your own self care, personal growth and education. uUse every day as an opportunity to learn and to grow. So you can show up for your students feeling energised, empowered and ready to deliver your best. Be the best role model and mentor you can possibly be and watch your students thrive as you do. Thank you so much for listening to this episode. If you enjoyed it, please make sure to share it with a friend or a colleague who you think will be inspired by this. Copy and paste the link and share it with the people you think will enjoy listening to this show. Please share it on social media and use the hashtag of voice and beyond. If you would like to help me please rate and review this podcast and cheer me on by clicking the subscribe button on Apple podcast right now. I would love to know what it is you enjoyed the most about this episode? And what was the biggest takeaway for you? I promise you there are many episodes to follow as I’m committed to bringing you more inspiration and conversations just like this one. I’d like to finish up with my final thoughts. Remember that to sing is more than just learning how to use the voice. as singers. Our whole body is the instrument and our bodies echo what we feel physically mentally and emotionally. So singing is not just about the voice. It’s about a voice and beyond. Please take care of yourself and I look forward to your company next time.