When I entered the DMA program at the University of Georgia, I was in my mid-40's.  We middle aged students are just terrible in grad school; we are not afraid of anyone, not even the professors!  I went to UGA determined that the voice teacher with whom I would study would be my friend Dr. Gregory Broughton.  I had sung with Dr. Broughton and heard him sing, and I was certain that he was the teacher for me.  I was so right!  Incidentally, for anyone choosing a voice teacher, do everything you can to hear your candidates sing, or their students, then meet him or her.  Not every voice teacher is right for every student.  Sometimes I send students to other teachers myself, if I feel that the fit is not right.

So eventualy Greg and I were starting a semester together.  We talked about repertoire that I had done.  A lot of my repertoire was in German and Italian, and I admitted that French was my weakest language.  So Greg says, "Good, we'll start with an all-French recital!"  Yeah, well, my French got a lot better, and it was a fun recital to learn because nearly everything on it was 20th century music:  Poulenc, Satie, Duparc, Hahn, Charpentier, and Debussy.  I lucked out further when Dr. Glenda Goss presented a seminar on the symbolist poets used in song settings, and most of them were part of this recital.  That class was a highlight of my time at UGA.

People walking down the hall where Greg's office is would stop to look in the window because they wanted to see what on earth was going on.  We were loud, and we laughted a lot (also loudly) during my lessons because we do not speak the same vocal language at all.  It sounded like those couple's therapy sessions where one of us would say to the other, "What I think I hear you saying is. . ."  We had to translate our two vocal languages to understand each other, but it was fine because we were both after the same vocal ideal.

It is wonderful to study voice when you are in mid-career, particularly with a new voice teacher who speaks a different language.  You have to re-evaluate your own thinking, and you have that blessed outside ear making sure that you really are doing what you thought you were doing. 

The Poulenc Le Travail du Peintre was really a little low for me, but it was a good thing to do not only because the poetry is about the painters who were Poulenc's contemporaries in Paris -- and that was fascinating to research -- but also because I'd done so much coloratura work over the years that I had rather neglected my lower voice.  Greg got me not only back in shape but into parts of my voice that I had not used so much.  I loved working on Verdi's D'amor sull'ali rosee and feeling the spinto part of my voice really grounded and strong.

The next recital had no French whatsoever on it.  Instead I learned Dvorak's Moon Song from Russalka in Czech.  Luckily Greg had gone to school with Dr. Timothy Cheek, who was in process of writing his so valuable Singing in Czech and who coached my diction by telephone from Texas.  Along with that was Rossini's La Regata Veneziana (one of the all-time-most-fun song cycles), Tommy Joe Anderson's Visions, and five of the Songs for Leontyne by Lee Hoiby.  It was a nice balance of lyric coloratura and spinto warmth.

Eventually I completed all the requirements and graduated with my terminal degree.  I was glad to be finished with driving to Athens, especially since at that time I was teaching at Brenau in Gainesville, and the Atlanta-Gainesville-Athens triangle trip was getting really old.  I was not glad to be leaving the excellent people with whom I had the chance to study, like Dr. Goss, of course, but especially Dr. Lewis Nielsen, now gone off to Oberlin, who finally gave me to understand that there are real artistic reasons for why things happen harmonically.  Bless him for showing me how terrible my earlier theory training was, and bless my wonderful committee chair, Dr. Mary Legler, who mentored me through the 400 pages of my spectrograph paper, and most of all bless my dear friend and voice teacher Dr. Gregory Broughton.