Familiar voice: Musician returns to teach lessons

Posted: Thursday, June 07, 2001

Now that former peninsula resident Joyce Sikorski has finished her masters degree and had two years full of performing and composing, she is returning home to hold a week-long session of private vocal lessons next week.

Sikorski is coming at the request of some previous voice students.

"There is a real lack in that area," said Sikorski, because there has been no full-time private vocal instructor on the peninsula since she left.

Last year, she arranged for a voice teacher to come down from Anchorage to give lessons. Since that instructor has stopped coming to the peninsula, there has been no one to hold private lessons.

For one week Sikorski will offer her lessons to students of all ages around the area. She has experience working with "children as young as 5 and children as old as 75."

"Every student is unique and is going to respond differently than the person next to them even if they are the same age, race, gender and economic background," she said.

The lessons are generally from 30 minutes to one hour in length, but it depends on the level of focus and concentration the student has, Sikorski said.

Sikorski enjoys giving voice lessons because she believes that voice has the greatest potential for expression because it is not man-made. It isn't hard to learn if taught in a way that is accessible.

She uses a Bell Canto technique, which originated in Italy and has been used for centuries, to teach young voices such as the Vienna Boys Choir.

Confidence and self-esteem are tied up in singing. According to Sikorski, she has had many students who think they cannot sing because at some point someone told them "they sang like a cow."

Someone doesn't have to necessarily be talented, but through time-tested techniques, someone who couldn't find a pitch previously will be singing beautifully, she said.

"It is gratifying to me that I can use the knowledge and skill that I have to help someone unleash that joy."

Sikorski has had many students tell her she is their therapist. They come into a lesson tense and angry and walk out completely changed.

In the case of voice, the entire body is the instrument.

"Although vocal cords are like a string instrument; breathing is like a reed instrument. Tension anywhere in the body affects the sound. Emotion is directly connected to singing."

Hopes and dreams, as well as disappointment and discouragement, are reflected in voice, Sikorski said.

Sikorski's recent creative project masters thesis is directly related to her views on the power of music. Titled, "Dream Songs: A synaptic isomorph between the tangible and the ineffable," it deals with the actual power of music to affect physical matter and therefore alter a composer's state of mind.

In addition, Sikorski wrote three compositions. One of which recently had a world premier and is being looked at for publication. It is a choral piece based upon a seventh century English poem written by an illiterate cattle herder named Caedmon.

Her piece premiered at Idyllwild Arts Academy where Sikorski has taught temporarily for the past year. Her youngest daughter, Arianna, accompanied her to California and has been attending the prestigious academy on a scholarship and studying technical theater.

The academy, one of only three private fine arts high schools in the nation, draws its 200 students from all over the world. Its youth orchestra is noted as one of the finest in the world, and its music, drama, dance and visual art students regularly go on to top universities in the country, often with full scholarships.

Arianna, like her mother, has recently graduated and will attend the University of Southern California next year. Her sister Dawningstar also has just finished a degree in English and contemporary language studies from Occidental University, Los Angeles.

Sikorski also has a son pursuing a degree in economics at the University of Nevada at Reno.

Sikorski's lessons will be Monday through June 15. On June 16, will hold an all-day workshop for those 15 or older. For more information or to reserve a spot, call (909) 659-7789 today, or 283-5995 after today, or e-mail Sikorski at joyvoice@hotmail. com.

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