It has been said that art imitates everything from life to bad tv to high school. In our ever-evolving attempt to comprehend and connect to the human experience, we are driven to create.
A few years back, my voice students begged me to let them put on a Cabaret. Not just a recital where they stand there and sing some nice songs, sometimes in Italian. But a true performance where THEY got to choose what to sing and how to put it all together.
They are truly artists. The urge to create and express something overwhelms them. Something deep in their hearts pushes them to perform, to sing, to express this thing about living that can't be expressed otherwise.
"So can we do it? a Cabaret?"
I said, "SURE! You're on." And then, they insisted that they had friends with this same drive. This same desire to learn how to refine their singing to help them tell their stories too. "They needed the help of a teacher like you!" they said.
"But they can't afford it.
Can we create a Scholarship for them?"
Out of the generosity of past and current students emerged the now-annual Body Song Cabaret, a scholarship fundraiser to support students in need. Each year, one student comes to study with me based on the support of this scholarship fund. So far, it hasn't quite been enough to support tuition 100%. But it certainly helps.
(This year's Cabaret is March 19th, 3:00 pm at the Unitarian Church in Ithaca for more information about "the Musical Theater Geek's Guide to History" including performance details click here.)
It has made voice lessons accessible to students like Christian Henry, our current scholarship recipient who dreams of attending college to study musical theater. He'll be auditioning for schools next year.
Christian comes from a family of seven and was raised by a single, disabled, parent. He first contacted me when he was just in the 8th grade to get on the waiting list for my studio. There was a space available to him the following year. Unfortunately, his family couldn't afford it. Now a junior, after last year's cabaret, we finally have raised enough funds to support his studies, and have been working together since September.
And he is putting it to good use. He works hard in every lesson. I often find myself saying "Slow down! You don't have to learn everything right now. We have time." in response to his eager and hard working attitude in lessons.
The local arts community has rallied around Christian to help him get to me. He sometimes arrives at my studio with the parents of alumni who have volunteered to drive him. When the scholarship fund wasn't quite enough to completely cover tuition costs, a family opted to help make up the difference to ensure he received the instruction he so desperately craved and needed.
You may have seen Christian perform on the Kitchen Theater stage, with Running to Places youth theater company, in the Ithaca High School musical, or with Vitamin L among a host of musical and theatrical productions and performances here in Ithaca.
Help us support Christian and other talented students like him. Any donation is greatly appreciated. Even $5 helps. If you are able to give more, consider these numbers:
A single hour long voice lesson is $63. Tuition for Body Song Voice Studio which includes weekly voice lessons, group lessons, and recitals like this one, the cost is $269 per month for 10 months a year. Our goal is to raise a $2690, or 1 academic year's tuition.
Donations can be made by check, cash or credit card at the performance itself. Otherwise, checks can be mailed to: Body Song 14 Porter Hill Rd. Ithaca, NY 14850.
I thank you in advance for your generosity.
I'll bet Christian does too.