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An Interview with Tiffany Cadenhead, Voice Teacher

Tiffany is the newest private teacher to join Timbral Music Studios. She brings a lot of energy, passion and knowledge of her craft to the team. We wanted to get to know her better, so we asked her some questions.

What led you to pursue singing as a career?

As a child, I loved being creative. I, of course, loved music and singing in

particular, but my favorite creative activity growing up was drawing. I was sure I would grow up to become a famous artist! I never considered pursuing music professionally until I auditioned for an all girls choir in my hometown. My best friend in fourth grade was auditioning, so I thought I would, too. We both made it, and that was my first foray into professional singing. Our choir even recorded a CD!

What are some highlights of your professional musical roles?

Since becoming a mom, I’ve had to be more selective about performing as the demanding schedule is hard to do with three kids. I have loved performing in Austin with local groups such as Panoramic Voices, Density 512, Chorus Austin, and have many fond memories of Musical Theatre roles such as Jan in Grease the Musical, Maria in The Sound of Music, the Baker's Wife in Into the Woods, and Dolly in Hello, Dolly!.

Can you describe a typical voice lesson for someone who has never had one before?

Voice is unique to teach and learn. It is the only instrument that is purely human. We are not robots! Therefore, every voice lesson is slightly unique, with a need to cater to the current needs of the student and the unique instrument they possess. Numerous factors play a role in learning voice, including age, gender identification, hormonal health, previous and present injuries and traumas (both physical and mental/emotional), belief systems, cultural ideologies, etc...! With all of that in mind, I typically begin a lesson with a conversation. It’s very important for me, as a teacher, to understand why someone has come to my studio. Why do you believe now is the right time to pursue lessons? What goals, dreams, and desires drive your training? Because singing involves all of our mental, physical, and emotional faculties to be present and work together, I always incorporate a mindfulness activity or movement activity into our voice lesson. Depending on how comfortable a new singer is, for our first lesson we might only do a little vocalizing, usually singing scales or intervals, for me to hear the voice. If a student is particularly nervous, we will do minimal singing at first and usually a lot of humming! Because I am working with a unique instrument each time a student comes to me, I have to be observant of the many factors that might impact our time together. My job is to make the student feel seen, heard, and safe so they can feel comfortable to vocalize and explore their unique instrument.

As well as training your voice and becoming skilled at teaching, you have pursued several specialties. Can you summarize what those are and what kind of student would benefit from them?

I love to learn, and believe having a teachable mind and spirit is important for any educator. Especially as someone who works with bodies and voices, having the most up-to-date training rooted in scientifically sound pedagogy and relevant methods and styles is very important. I’ve enjoyed training with many wonderful professionals, especially over the past two years, in topics such as Adolescent/Changing Voice, Performance Anxiety Management, and Trauma Informed studio practices.

I am currently in my third year as an Alexander Technique trainee. This program is rigorous and requires over 1400 hours of training to get certified! The Alexander Technique is a somatic education tool that is over 100 years old. In this method, you learn how to observe habits and how they often lead to patterns of tension. It is a wonderful tool to retrain the mind-body connection to use the body in a more efficient, coordinated way. The Alexander Technique is widely used by musicians, actors, performers, and athletes all over the world! It has been life changing for me as a singer, and for my students as well.

I am also working on becoming a certified yoga teacher (200 hrs)! I look forward to offering these services in the studio in the future alongside voice lessons.

Can you describe a student’s progress that was particularly memorable for you?

Some of my most memorable students have been those who came back to singing after a period away. One wonderful person I had the privilege to work with wanted to begin writing and singing his own songs after losing his older brother in a tragic accident. Another student that stands out is a woman who wanted to perform but had debilitating performance anxiety. Seeing students gain the skills and confidence they need to reach their unique goals is the MOST rewarding aspect of teaching!

What are some reasons to take voice lessons that might be surprising to a reader?

Singing is one of the purest forms of self-expression we all possess. Many people think they are "tone-deaf" or can’t sing. The truth is, we can ALL sing. We are BORN singing! Look at any baby babbling and screeching to know that this is true. We are vocal, communicative beings that use our voices for a variety of purposes. Also, singing is a motor skill that we can develop and nurture. Singing is as much a neurological activity as it is a physical one, and having a teacher that understands how important it is to honor the mind-body connection can really make a difference in a voice lesson.

You can learn more about Tiffany and contact her at her website, Free To Sing. Sign up for voice lessons here!

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