The Living Magazines

Hyde Park Living .....Hyde Park, Oakley, Mt. Lookout, O'Bryonville and East Walnut Hills
Wyoming Living
Indian Hill Living
Fort Thomas Living

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Fort Mitchell Voice Teacher: It was ‘Virtually’ one of the best birthdays ever

Former vocal students surprise teacher with 'virtual' "Happy Birthday" celebration.

How does one properly celebrate a birthday during the Coronavirus pandemic? For Catherine Keen, whose Keen Voice Studio in Fort Mitchell has trained some of the region’s best vocalists, being virtually serenaded proved to be quite a treat.

Last month, Keen mentioned on Instagram that she’d love to hear the beautiful voices she’d trained sing “Happy Birthday” to her. She got her wish, and all who follow Keen on her Instagram account were invited to the party.

“That was so much fun on my birthday,” says Keen. “It was CRAZY....something like 35 students sang for me. What a beautiful gift and I am so grateful. I wasn't anticipating anything like that at all!

Catherine Keen, whose Keen Voice Studio is in Fort Mitchell, asked to hear the voices she had trained sing "Happy Birthday" to her -- and she got her wish!

Keen says a few students dropped off flowers, cookies and a cake on her door step (of course, properly observing "social distancing"). The kids on my Instagram page @thekeenvoice are a mix of high school, college and post college, and now live all throughout the country, in New York, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Ohio and of course here in Northern Kentucky. Many of the students go to college in another state and come back and work with her in the summer and during the holidays.”

“They are such a blessing to me,” says Keen.

Keen is a sought-out teacher to a new generation of students, and to musical theatre majors at Northern Kentucky University. She’s appeared with many of the most prestigious opera companies in the U.S. and Europe. Her portfolio boasts stellar performances that include Tannhauser at the Royal Danish Opera; Luisa Miller with the Grand Theatre de Genève; Samson et Dalila at the Florida Grand Opera and Washington National Opera; Amneris in Aida and Fenen in Nabucco at the Arena di Verona; Aida with the Houston Grand Opera; Cornelia in Washington National Opera’s Giulio Cesare; Kundry opposite maestro Placido Domingo’s Parsifal; and Herodias in Salome at the Washington National Opera Kennedy Center. Most recently, the mezzo soprano took the stage in Cincinnati Opera’s Romeo and Juliet in the role of Gertrude. With all of her success, she says her true passion is sharing what she’s learned with her students.

As has been the case with so many businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic, finding new and creative ways to conduct business has been critical. The Keen Voice Studio transitioned to online lessons about a month ago. Keen says she had been watching the virus news coming out of China since December and when it hit Washington State she knew it wouldn't be long until it made its way east.

“While the lessons have been going very well online, I miss teaching them face-to-face, in-person.,” says Keen. “Like many teachers, I am going through a grieving process not being able to be with my students. Singing is something that requires a great deal of energy and that energy needs to have a focus. Through my intuition and skills, my job is to help these students direct their focus on vocal issues, dramatic issues, and even life issues. This is tough to do in person.... having to do this through the confines of a computer screen, and sometimes a small phone), actually requires much more energy on my part.”

After two weeks, of virtual training, Keen says she started experiencing her own vocal fatigue, brought on by her attempt to” scream into that blasted screen in order to "reach" them.” After a couple days of vocal rest, she was back to normal. She says she now uses an external microphone and does a series of stretching and breathing exercises to stay calm and relaxed during the lessons.

Keen is also trying to find fun and new opportunities for the students to perform.

“The lock-down has erased so many performing opportunities for these young people,” says Keen. “Many middle and high school students in our area were in rehearsals for their school musicals which have now been cancelled. I have college level students in theatre programs who no longer have the opportunity to perform in their shows”.

Many of her students were slated to perform in summer stock shows and amusement parks around the US as well as here in the Tri-State area.

“Like most businesses, the theatres have for now, closed their doors,” says Keen. “The wheels are spinning in my head and I am looking forward to offering my students a chance to share their gifts...and keep them singing!”

No comments:

Post a Comment