In My Own Words

I recently had the pleasure of reconnecting with a student who had been a part of my studio at the college where I teach.  She’d been away from singing for a while and wanted to invest again in training her voice.  I could understand her ache to sing very well.  That calling haunts us until we choose to feed it.  I surprised myself by getting emotional as I told her of my own experience– classical singing brings me a joy and a connection to myself that no other person or circumstance can match.  It is a unique joy by which my life has been tested and enriched.

The relationship to one’s voice is as deeply personal, cyclical, and rich as our relationships to our spouses, family and friends.  I’ve worked with peoples’ voices for many years in a variety of settings:  performing, teaching and directing.  Along the way, I’ve definitely gathered some insight!  As artists, we give…we use our art to bring more beauty to the world.  How often do artists allow themselves to receive?  How do we continually fuel ourselves so that we bring the best version of ourselves to the table?

I’ve spent the last several years studying opera and classical art songs….. learning to sing other people’s words!  On this page, I will share some of my own.  Scroll down to read my most recent posts!

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Voice lessons with Martha

Check out this short video in regards to voice lessons with Martha!  Summer is upon us and the relaxed nature of this season makes it a great time to study something fun and joyful.  Contact me at 941-404-8375 or email me at marthalopezsoprano @ gmail .com.

Reflecting on my lessons, as I give lessons.

I am the product of my teachers.  My musical training began at the piano.  At age 6, I began my studies with Martha Montané in Elizabeth, New Jersey, where I grew up.  She was a fiery, red-headed Cuban with high standards.  She laid a firm foundation for me and each year, I participated in the National Student Auditions held by the National Guild of Piano Teachers.  I studied with her for six years, until my parents decided to relocate to Sarasota.  Mrs. Montané referred me to Warrene Johnson, also a Guild member.

Every ounce of kindness and patience that I pour into my voice and piano students, I learned from Mrs. Johnson.  She was a kind, genteel Southern woman who was always dressed impeccably.  She radiated love.  I studied with her another 6 years and worked with her through my college auditions.  With her stellar instruction and my hard work combined, I was accepted at Florida State University and Stetson University as a music major.

I attended Stetson University to study with Dr. Michael Rickman.  Dr. Rickman is an outstanding musician with an international career as both a solo and collaborative pianist.  He was an exacting professor who taught me how to shape a phrase, solidify my technique and grow as an artist, while inspiring me towards literature I dreamed to play.  It was during this time at Stetson that I first began to teach.  I was hired by the Community School of Music at Stetson and taught many children.  In my Senior year, I also taught at the Chisolm Center, for the Community School’s outreach program in DeLand.

It wasn’t until I had graduated and had my first K-8 teaching job at a private school in Bradenton, Florida, that my attention turned towards singing.  I had dabbled in lessons before, but it wasn’t until I was already working that I began to take it more seriously.  And that was when I met Dr. Brenda Smith.  She helped me build a foundation for my voice and helped me realize that I could, indeed, become a classical singer, if that is what I wanted.  So with her steady encouragement, I followed my heart and did just that.

At the School of Music at the University of South Florida, I studied with Dr. Kay Lowe who introduced me to a vast array of art song literature and instilled a deep love of the French mélodie, especially those of Francis Poulenc. I also studied with Suzanne Hatcher, who made me realize exercise after exercise, what it felt like in my body to support my voice…and also helped me realize that I could sing high notes. Really high ones, in fact!  I graduated with my Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance in 2006.  In 2007, I was hired as voice faculty at the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.  After completing graduate school, I have continued to study with some of the best voice teachers in the country.  For four years until her passing, I studied with world renowned voice scholar and author, Shirlee Emmons in New York.  And even now, I love to go check in with my teacher, Rosa Vento in New York.  I love to learn and continually refine my craft.

One of the joys in my life is watching people grow musically.  I provide a quiet, safe environment, in which students can comfortably learn at their own pace.  Voice students develop their singing skills through an emphasis of good musicianship, healthy singing techniques, breath management and performance coaching.  Students studying classical literature receive Italian, French, German, Spanish and English diction coaching.  With my piano students, I also emphasize healthy technique, development of good musicianship and artistry at the keyboard.

In a market full of voice and piano teachers, why choose me?  I have 20 years of private teaching experience, a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree and a resumé full of performance experience at both the piano and as a singer-actor. I have a positive, bright disposition that makes studying with me fun.  If you or your child are invested in learning, but would enjoy smiling and having fun while developing a new skill, I’m your teacher.  I am invested in each students’ success at learning to sing or play the piano.  As your teacher, you can count on high quality instruction along with enthusiastic encouragement.

To schedule your lesson, call me at (941) 404-8375 or contact me through my  website by clicking here.

2017: How I spent the Christmas

December is always a flurry of activity for any Director of Music.  2017 was no exception.  The choir I directed at Our Lady of the Angels did a marvelous job at every event.  Our Christmas Concert was a huge success, touting the largest attendance we’d seen thus far.  Legendary harpist Ann Hobson Pilot was our guest artist and it was an honor and thrill to hear her.  Our choir had a fun time caroling at the Windsor as we have done for 6 years in the running.  Our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services were beautiful.  I made it through the experience with joy and a full heart.

The people at Our Lady of the Angels will always be close to my heart.  I resigned as Director of Music there at the end of 2017.  2018 brings a new chapter and new beginnings.

Artistic Recharge!

I was quit2017-01-26-19-07-16e content to be in New York City late last week.  I have been working on all new opera literature and was excited and honestly, slightly nervous, to present it to my teacher. I took a two hour lesson and wow……..came away with a great deal of information.  I love visiting Rosa – she is a font of knowledge and inspiration!

I saw two operas at the Metropolitan Opera while I was there– Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette…….gorgeous production………quite wow.  I was quite amused at the Las Vegas themed setting of Verdi’s Rigoletto.  I am always amazed not only by the high level of artistry, but the creativity and imagination of the sets and costumes as well.  I never tire of going there.  I have seen many, many productions at the Met and it always lifts my spirit just walking up to Lincoln Center, seeing the fountain and the opera house all lit up….it’s just magical!

On Friday I visited the Guggenheim Museum and treated myself to a fancy lunch.  I happened to be in the city during Restaurant Week.  The exhibitions were changing out at the Guggenheim but they still had some interesting avant garde installations by Chinese artists that I found quite entertaining and thought provoking.  I love art museums. I experience the same sort of giddy energy at museums that I feel walking in to a concert hall.

Going to New York and immersing myself in the arts always recharges my battery.  I can sense it in my singing and I could see it in my teaching this week.  I even played tennis well today!  Needless to say:  I heart New York.

Words may hurt, but love can heal.

“No person has the right to rain on your dreams.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

An old memory recently haunted me.  I recall being a child, standing in the driveway of my parents’ house with my father.  A man that many held in high esteem had come to pay a visit.  I can still remember the sadness and humiliation I felt when he sternly lectured me.  He was telling me to take the piano less seriously.  His own daughter had tried to “make a go of it” and had failed.  And given his daughter’s lack of success, it was obvious to him that I should give up.

Years later, at age 18, I was confronted by another man who was held in high esteem.  He and his wife discouraged me from continuing to take voice lessons.  Apparently they’d discussed it and decided that I was “nothing special.”  That I should focus my energies elsewhere.

I am lucky that my spirit was stronger than the hurtful words that were hurled at me when I was a child and young adult.  I am a sensitive soul and honestly, remembering those experiences is still brings forth tears.  Those were damaging moments.

Those wounds have informed who I am as a person and as a teacher.  When a new student stands before me at whatever level of development, those wounds have taught me not to judge a book by its’ cover.  If a student has the desire to sing, it is up to me to give them the best tools I have in order to help their voice blossom, not to judge how far they will go.  I am real with my students. I do not sugar coat.  I push, prod and encourage.  But never will I say anything to demean them or make them feel like a lesser person.

Today I am a professional musician and have been so since graduating with my first music degree.  Depending on the time of the year, I play for between 1,500 to 2,000 people per weekend at the church where I am the Director of Music.  At times, I have the opportunity to sing for those people as well.  Tomorrow I will have the distinct pleasure to teach voice lessons at the college where I have taught for ten years in August.  I continue to perform and have released three recordings as a singer that have been heard in all corners of this fine planet.  I can say with a great degree of confidence that many people are very glad that I did not give up on being who I was supposed to be.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Love is what encouraged me to stay on my path.  I had wonderful teachers who showered me in positivity, saw my potential and nourished it.  I received love in the tougher forms as well through pushing, prodding and the continual raising of bars.  I continue to study and the work continues.

Looking back at what I’ve just written, all of the words filter down to this one sentiment.  No matter what anyone says, follow your heart.  It really does know best.