To Sir with love - a deep bow to my teachers
I got a hilarious little reminder yesterday. An old friend from 6th grade posted a comment on my facebook on a current photo of my gig. She remembered a few songs I sang in the 6th grade talent show. I chose to sing “To Sir With Love” to honor our teachers at the Riverside Presbyterian Day School and “From a Distance” by Bette Midler. I remember it being a sweet little tribute. Here is a picture of the “Brady Bunch” skit we did. I was Bobby in the red cap with the attitude.
I loved singing then. And I love singing now. A lot of things have changed and absolutely nothing has changed. I want to do my own version of “To Sir, with love” by honoring the teachers that have made all the difference to me on my musical journey. Thank you:
Anne Zibelman - my next door neighbor and a beautiful soul. She was my first voice and piano teacher. She had long black hair and I wanted to be just like her. She helped me with my first solo performance ever - a recital at the Helen Hills Hills Chapel in Northampton, MA when I was 5 years old. I sang “Food, Glorious Food” from Oliver, “How Much is that Doggie in the Window”, and other kid classics. I believe she is a cantor - I wish I could hear her sing again.Thank you, Anne.
Grammy Betlyon - my Grandmother loved music. Every time I would visit her, she would take me back to her music room where she taught children piano. We would look through the music books and sing and play for hours. Laughter was a huge part of our musical times together. A favorite of ours was "The Good Ship Lollipop" - an ode to Shirley Temple, who my grandmother adored. Grammy taught me how to always keep it light and joyful and to sing the songs that I LOVE. She continues to inspire me today. Thank you, Grammy.
Mrs. Solomon - Our music teacher at RPDS (5th to 6th grade). I remember playing recorders and singing and learning the xylophone. Mrs. Solomon made music fun and supported my endeavors into pop covers at talent shows. Thank you.
‘Sunshine’ Sally Deming - My warm, cuddly, and inspirational theater teacher in Jacksonville, FL. She ran the JU Dolphin Arts Camp - a wonderful place for kids to immerse themselves in art - in Florida!!!! One of a kind. Sally helped me through a very hard time in my childhood. I remember her holding my hand as I approached the stage to read an original poem to a full auditorium when I was 13. She always made me believe that my creativity and my talent were unique and worthwhile. I just googled her and saw she received a much deserved award very recently. Thank you, Sally.
Jane Glocke - My voice teacher in high school in State College, PA. Jane taught me that I could sing classical music. She taught me poise and technique. She was also such a sweet woman and her house smelled delish! Thank you, Jane.
Jill Campbell - My theater teacher/director at State College Area High School. Jill believed in me and allowed me to express myself and explore my talent in many roles on the stage there. Directing the school fall play with Jill taught me that you don’t always get what you want - but you often get what you need - and it’s way better! She helped me develop into a professional artist. Thank you, Jill.
Robert Drafall - My choral director in high school. Mr. Drafall taught me how to read music, how to challenge my musicality, how to blend with other singers, and how to reach for excellence at all times. He is truly a gift to choral music and continues to take Choral music in Pennsylvania to the highest levels! It is because of him that I got to sing in Carnegie Hall when I was only 16. I miss singing with him. Thank you, Mr. Drafall.
Mary Saunders and Beverly Patten - My voice coaches at Penn State during my stint in the musical theater program. Mary taught me how to sing in a brand new way - developing my 'mix'. She took me out of my Alto 2 box - and showed me that I could sing high. Bev challenged me at all times to do my best and when I dropped out of the program, she said, "This is good for you. You will go explore the world and find out who you are, and then you'll be back." She was right. Thank you, Mary and Bev.
Anthony Leach - the director of Essence of Joy at Penn State. A truly unique and wonderful man and teacher. Dr. Leach taught me about the positive force music can be in the world. The love that he spreads through his music is actively making the world a better place - one spiritual and gospel tune at a time. With Dr. Leach, I learned about the freedom to express yourself in song - to get dirty - to put ego aside - and lift your voice to the heavens! The music I have made with him and his choir continues to be a spiritual balm in my life as I am a member of the Essence of Joy Alumni Singers. Thank you, Dr. Leach.
Suzanne Keichle - my current Voice teacher. Suzanne is completely changing the way I approach singing. I am a healthier, more confident, and professional singer today because of my work with her. Her technique is the best I have ever learned and I would recommend her to any singer struggling with healthy singing today. She wrote a fabulous book about her technique called "The Keys to Vocal Freedom." I feel as if she has given me those keys. Thank you, Suzanne.
Amanda McBroom - Amanda is my mentor (not sure if she knows that, hahaha) and performance coach who I met in Italy. She taught me how to sing my truth in a brand new way. She made me believe that it is possible to be an artist in this world without compromising who you are at the core. She taught me how to jump off the ledge and say YES to life. She continues to inspire me as a writer and a performer. She is one of the most hard-working artists I know - and continues to be kind, caring, and generous at all times. Thank you, Amanda.
I could write books about my parents: Stephanie Edgerly and John Betlyon. They made me who I am today. They taught me how to be in the world. They valued faith, family, education, art, music, and honesty. My parents are people who other people look up to. I know I do. My life may look different from theirs ( they were married with a baby at my age) but I feel I am expressing the same values in my own way. I love them a lot.
There are more notable teachers, of course. You know who you are. So to all my teachers. I bow to you. I could not have imagined my life without you. You have made my life exciting. I couldn't wait to see you again to learn something new. I still feel that way. I know I have sooooo much to learn about life and about music and having a career in musical performance. But I've got my heart and my mind open. I'm ready for the next lesson!
The gift that you give to the world is immeasurable. You will never fully realize your impact on this planet. It is vast and beautiful. But know that your impact on this one little life has been monumental!
"To Sir, with Love" - Lulu