Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – Voice Teachers Past and Present

I’ve been singing for many years and have had several fabulous voice teachers. Here are some brief sketches of the wonderful artists who have helped shape my vocal life.

While at the LaGuardia High School of Music and Art, I auditioned for and was accepted to the Chautauqua Summer School of the Arts program. It was there that I met the woman who would become my first private voice teacher, Ms. Maxine Davis. We worked on breath support, posture and repertoire. Ironically, Maxine gave lessons in an apartment in the residential hotel where we lived for a few years.

My next teacher, Jean Hakes, was a singer of some renown whom I met while studying at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. She is memorable for her technique (some of which I could barely understand at the time). I still recall the train ride to Brooklyn, the five-block walk to her private home and schlep up the stairs to her teaching studio. How they hoisted her baby grand piano up there is beyond me.

A student of the Filomen M. D’Agostino Greenberg Music School at Lighthouse International for almost 30 years, I’ve experienced the good, the bad, the ugly and so much more. It was there, though, that I was introduced to Ms. Mindy Fliegelman and Mr. Robert Brown (both totally blind). Mindy was a great voice teacher who recorded songs on tape to Bob’s able accompaniment. How marvelous! I was freed from the strain of using a hand-held magnifier to read standard printed music. Later, Mindy and Bob became our excellent computer instructors and I credit them with kindling my love for technology. You just never know.

Ms. Helen Guilet was a wonderfully animated voice teacher who shall forever be remembered for her canned accompaniments. Knowing her limited piano skills, she had a pianist friend record the song. Once we were ready to sing it all the way through, the play button was promptly pressed on her cassette tape player. This spurred me on to finding the famous (or infamous) 24 Italian Songs and Arias karaoke version on CD, which I still own.

Also at the Lighthouse Music School, Mr. Richard Eikenberry introduced me to several glorious arias and Mr. Paul Chamlin taught a wealth of songs from the Broadway stage that were lyrically and musically interesting. Ms. Charlotte Surkin was a terrific voice teacher who concentrated on your vocal apparatus and vocal health in addition to repertoire.

Currently, I have an electronic voice teacher named Ms. Christina E. Brands. I found her course on www.amazon.com/mp3. She offers useful and effective vocal techniques and exercises that I do prior to our cabaret shows.

It’s been my privilege to have worked with such talented singers and instructors.


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