I’m a classically-trained vocalist and pianist. I studied piano since I was 7, at the age of 8 won a talent show award for singing and playing the piano, and in my teenage years sang in church choirs and went onto state piano competitions and won awards.

(I also played the clarinet for five years…we parted ways once my braces came off and I relinquished the opportunity to become “first chair”…which was a good thing because how easy is it to play a woodwind and sing at the same time?)

After graduating from University of Iowa and studying writing at Northwestern University in Chicago, I began my vocal training, studying in the Windy City under a jazz vocalist and later in NY, studied voice and public performance at celebrity-approved Cari Cole Voice Studios, as well as with jazz vocalist Michelle Carr and French mezzo-soprano opera singer Maria Todaro.

I’ve had the pleasure of performing solo in front of hundreds of people on various continents (South America, Europe, Asia) and was invited to have a private NYC showcase. At an overseas ashram, I taught voice and public performance to children ages 2-16 and worked on my breathing/meditation.

In the U.S., I’ve taught music infants and toddlers in both Montessori and Christian church ministries settings, along with community centers, cafes and clubs. Having taught various subjects for over 27 years, I currently teach in Austin a parent/child Music And Movement class at a 501c3 organization. Also in Austin, I perform at the occasional House Wine professional-level open-mic and continue to teach myself the ukulele, building a repertoire of both American and French jazz and pop songs.

Along with being the holder of a Harvard Business School’s Executive Education’s Launching New Ventures certificate (2007) and being a self-taught goldsmith, picture book author, woodworker, visual artist, goldsmith, and entrepreneur, I’ve been involved with various 501c3s including Amnesty International, Nature Conservancy, and, Children’s Miracle Network.

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Comforting! — N.B.

That was awesome! Did you notice while you sang, everyone got quiet?¬†— S.C.

So lovely! — C.W.

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Yesterday, I was at an elementary school gymnasium with not just one, but two pianos…and I couldn’t resist but lift off the cover of one and play some chords…and of course some heads turned and I immediately acted like it hadn’t been me.

There was the brief exchange of knowing smiles.

It’s a far cry from when I was a young girl forced to play the piano and I (gasp) would kick the piano’s out of frustration. I didn’t do it very often, maybe once or twice…but I do remember doing it and feeling weird as I usually took good care of my belongings…

(I also remember playing other people’s/place’s pianos and feeling like I’d been betrayed by the subtle differences in the keys’ pressings and the varying brightnesses sounds…if too bright, I felt the instrument less than sincere…those Baldwins were soooo loud and bright…)

Alas, the piano (and other people’s/places’ pianos) became much like a trusted horse. After doing the work of practicing and memorizing there was something like a wave that would fill me and make me feel as if I were no longer the player…which also felt a bit disconcerting because then, what kind of control did I have? Eight-eight keys…that’s a lot for a young girl to manage…and yet the playing expressed itself as needed through a weirdly-swaying body. Believe me, all that swaying perplexed me, too.

Today, being often away from pianos, I don’t have much memorized on the piano…in the past, my favorite memorized books were mysteriously and sadly disposed of (I’m over the injustice of it all…)…and new books quickly become friends as that muse inside me picks apart the melody and the most necessary notes to create the right crescendos and diminuendos…Whenever I play and play and sing, the feedback I get is gratitude-filled and for that I’m grateful.

So instead of a wood upright piano or a black lacquered Steinway grand that I grew up around and stood away (an invisible barbed-wire fence grew there for this girl), I have this little ukulele…which is my well-portable and traveled companion. It’s my “piano”…and lets my voice — as one listener put it recently — be the melody which is what people care about most when it comes to a voice/instrument combination.

I’ve already posted this song several times on my YT channel…and I’ve de-posted it myself after however amount of likes. Here’s a most recent take — recorded on my cellphone…in my studio…er, art studio…and gallery…

xo,
Helen

P.S. Now you know what I do outside of performing music in public…this is what I’ve been doing for a long while as I create hoop earrings/jewelry in my studio…