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Category Archives: Arts Education

Billy Densmore, a Reflection, Class of ’89

Hello!

It’s been a very long time since I’ve written in my blog. I have decided that writing each month with nothing to say wasn’t satisfactory for me. When I did have something to say, it was really a personal reflection that may or may not have anything to do with the entertainment industry.

So, I have taken to write less and less. However, I want to take time to remember an important person that many people in my class at Northside School of the Arts have mentioned lately in the news, for instance, Erika Girardi aka Erika Jayne from the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and RuPaul which are both graduates of Northside High School.

My story comes into view in the summer of 1988 when my parents and I were on vacation in Atlanta. My parents are from Newnan and Franklin, GA and we would come every summer on vacation. This summer, my dad was retiring from the military as Command Sergeant Major (CSM) with the 4×4 field artillery with 27 years of experience, and he was moving back home to Georgia from Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.

I loved to audition and was taking voice lessons from Mrs. Doris Lambert from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma and piano from Yuki Walker from my hometown. I had an interest in drama and was in Bye Bye Birdie as Rosie in the 8th grade at Tomlinson Jr. High School. I had brought my 24 Italian Arias with me on vacation.

My dad was on the phone and mentioned to me that I needed to leave now for an audition at Northside School of the Arts.  My dad, CSM (Ret) Artie C. Geter, had talked to his friend, Judge Clarence Thomas, and he said that I should audition for that school.  Dad called the school and they were leaving for Europe that very day and I needed to get there now before they left for Europe to audition since we were leaving back to Oklahoma and wouldn’t get back in time to audition for enrollment.

We left in a hurry and I decided to sing two songs: “Alma del Core” by Antonio Caldara. I don’t remember the other song.  I auditioned before Mr. Densmore and all the kids that were leaving for Europe in the chorus room that day.  I got some hand claps from the kids and left.  Later, I found out that I had gotten into the school.

This was the best thing that my dad had done for me.  Later, I asked him why did he decide to retire before my senior year in high school since I was with my friends from kindergarten to junior year. I wanted my dad to apologize, but he refused. My dad refused to apologize for anything and said that this was the best thing that he could have done for me, and he was right.

I look back at this with acquaintances and friends from this school and hear about the great things we are still doing years later: Travis Payne, choreographer for Michael and Janet Jackson before MJ’s passing; Erika Girardi aka Erika Jayne who at 35 created her alter ego that would contribute to nine #1 hit singles and a stint on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and Elaine Hendrix, actress in television and films including many wonderful professionals across the world.

I heart my friends back in Oklahoma including Will Shields, retired Guard for the Kansas City Chiefs who invited me to his induction into the Football Hall of Fame, and James Trapp (my high school crush) who earned the Super Bowl ring from the Baltimore Ravens in 2000 and won a gold medal in the Olympics in 1993 for the 200 meter dash in 20.60 seconds including many friends from my hometown.

I had the best of both worlds: football players in choir in Oklahoma (Will Shields) and a great pre professional artistic experience at a high achieving performance arts school.

The last time that I saw Mr. Densmore was at my ten year class reunion in 1999 (yes, we partied to the song by Prince, RIP, especially me).

However, Mr. Densmore would say that he was going to die. Mr. Densmore contracted the HIV virus that causes AIDS. The ten year class reunion would be the last time that I would see him.

I did see Erika Girardi in a commercial flight from NYC with her mom and son who was about ten to twelve years old at the time with my parents returning to Georgia in 2005. I had graduated from NYU and we mentioned about life goals then. She was thinking about going back to school or doing something more with her life (of course, it wouldn’t be school but a music career); I would see Travis Payne at the 10 and 20 year class reunion and in the DVD of This Is It tour video before Michael Jackson died, RIP; I saw Elaine Hendrix in a play in 2010 while I was visiting and auditioning in voice overs, going to the VOICE convention in Beverly Hills and auditioning for film auditions at the time.

I now teach as a choral director and music educator at the DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts.  The DeKalb School of the Arts and DESA will merge together as one school, P-12 as a performance magnet school in about five to seven years.

Mr. Billy Densmore, RIP, would be proud of his high achieving students. We remember and pay our tributes to him. I hope that he’s looking at us fondly. Mr. Densmore definitely had an influence on our lives. We contribute much of our training and success as a reflection today because of him.

Kim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Atlanta Opera Presents at WES

Below is a clip that I came across approximately seven (7) years ago at my former school when I facilitated the Atlanta Opera at WES. Enjoy!

 

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2017 in Arts Education

 

ENT Visit

Good morning,

I had an ENT visit yesterday that I can share with you.

The ENT (ears, nose, and throat) is also called an Otorhinolaryngologist.

I wanted to check my vocal folds (term also used is vocal cords) to see if there was anything that I should be concerned about. I had overused my voice on a particular day and since I’m in a choral group, teach choir to young singers, speak as a voice-over talent, act, and sing at times, it was time for a check-up.

The specialist was great. I highly recommend Buckhead ENT in Atlanta, GA.

If you’ve never been to an ENT, I procedure is not painful. However, it is uncomfortable.

Spray goes into your nostril on both sides. A tube with a light at the end is inserted into one nostril down to your vocal folds.

I was asked to hum, sing a high sound, ascend and descend vocally so that full coverage could be viewed.

I had gone to the PCP earlier due to my throat issue and discovered that I had acid reflux. The ENT did see redness due to the acid reflux. However, my vocal folds were fine, yay!

There are many issues that can occur as a vocalist, speaker, and teacher. I encourage people to take care of your voice with simple things.

  1. Drink plenty of water, lukewarm is best. I urge people to drink water when they first wake up in the morning.
  2. Space your speech and rest your voice throughout certain times of the day. Sometimes, it’s best to remain quiet. A person doesn’t have to comment all the time. Silent times should be necessary for teachers, singers, choir directors, voice-over talents, professors (whoever uses their voice consistently for communication).
  3. Get plenty of rest, six to eight hours per day.
  4. Get your exercise.
  5. Eat healthy foods and cook more at home.

These are very simple ideas; however, they work.

For the website of Buckhead ENT; see below:

http://buckheadent.com/

 

 

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Reflections on Bullying Short Film

In the Fall 2013, I directed a student film with middle school students. We finally finished post production of it and I wanted to share it. Since it’s middle school students, the names have been abbreviated. We may send it to student festivals to check out the responses. Thanks for the support for my drama students.

Reflections on Bullying

 

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Working Three Careers Simultaneously

Howdy! It’s been a minute; I should say.

I wanted to explain myself in some way for my ADHD way of doing business: Choral Music Director, VO Actor, and Theatre Educator.

Well you see…Ummm…It’s like this…Oh cut the crap: I enjoy what I do; I live in a right-to-work state; It just happened (similar to a pregnancy); I’m paying the bills; and I have to count my blessings (or curses when I wake up at 4 a.m.).

Yes, I’m awake a 4 a.m.

No, I don’t have ADHD but I have to use time management. When I’m on vacation, I completely shut down. That’s the truth. When I’m working, I don’t stop working. It’s a tough marathon at times but I find ways to refresh my soul for the long haul.

Watching performances in choral music and rehearsals, plays, films, and listening to VO artists help tremendously. The VO business was my way of performing (from home) so that I could contribute my talents when I taught so much during the week (6 days/week). However, time management aside, it’s tough but I can’t complain. Let me explain:

1. I remember graduating from college with a bachelors and could not find a part-time job, even in a bookstore (remember Oxford books in the ATL?). I was turned down. Nowadays, the economy is tough, so that would seem normal. I had to reconsider things.

2. There are very specialized jobs in the arts. It’s not a job that a person can normally apply without experience. That’s with any job. When I was working as a temporary worker, I remember that I was asked about a music question that an office worker thought that I couldn’t answer. The question was fuzzy but the answer was Dvorak. He couldn’t believe it. I knew then and there that I was not meant to work in an office outside of my field. I just didn’t belong there.

3. I was evolving. I had some tough music and drama teachers in my past but I couldn’t quit. I had to keep doing this work. Finally, I decided to take a plunge and go into business myself. It was the hardest thing to do, including switching music jobs at the same time and teaching a new drama class. I don’t recommend all of this at the same time but that’s what I did (or had to do – when it rains – it pours). I had to have some faith (a mustard seed kind of faith) and jump right into the pool, fully clothed (so to speak) or off a cliff (figuratively). It was refreshing but scary AND tough. As they say, the tough keep going.

4. Lastly, people don’t explain these things but here are thoughts to ponder and chew on: Money management, Time management, Work and Personal management have had a triad of imbalances a few times within my day. At one point, I had scheduled on a Saturday, an Honor Chorus with a ATL 365 showcase and a Drama Class (that I had found a substitute for) all on the same day. I needed a little help from my music educator peers with that one. Another Saturday, I had a commercial shoot with my agent with a Theatre Unified Audition in Atlanta, GA. My agent was able to get me to film first, then I could audition for the Unified Auditions later in the day. Scheduling weekday auditions during the school year is non-existent. I work all film auditions during the summer. VO auditions are after work and weekends if needed.

There you have it. I tend to have a personal life. Believe it or not, I’ve always had one too, although it’s normally with people in my field of work. It’s nice to meet other folks in different fields though. I’m able to attend luncheons with small business owners which is nice during the summers or during breaks.

It’s an interesting and fulfilling life but it’s not for everyone. Yes, I have to take care of myself as well. So, this kind of rapid on-the-go schedule will have to slow down eventually. All good things come to an end. When? I’m unsure but I’m starting to see and whisper the word over the horizon: Retirement.

I’m thankful for safety, health, my loved ones, and work that I enjoy. A passionate person is a person who enjoys their work so much that it doesn’t seem like work at all. They give their money and time freely. Although, I have to be careful with people regarding my time management, I enjoy limited scheduled time helping others as well. I normally refer private consulting jobs or private teaching gigs to my peers. You can’t run after money; there is enough good work in the arts for everyone. Trust me, if not, trust God. There is. God will take care of you.

Protecting my voice is what I care about the most, including my health. So I use a Fender Passport Wireless microphone with a speaker. I’ve had it for years. Recently, the microphone broke so it needs replacing. This microphone has protected my voice. I will ALWAYS HAVE to use a microphone in the public education system. It’s vocal insurance.

So there you have it: a workaholic or maybe a person who enjoys their work. When things start to change and it’s time to let go, it’s time. I have no regrets and I enjoy what I do. Hopefully (and prayerfully), people are pleased with my work. Be well.

Kim

 

 
 

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Reflection Day

I’ve said this to a fellow actor: It’s tough to do three performance jobs simultaneously. I’ve asked Jesus for forgiveness in this. The amount of work is extraordinary. However, I’m thankful for these jobs and have to practice daily to stay sharp on the battlefield. I also appreciate knowing that I have limits so that I can have a life. Much love to people who I learn from constantly to help keep my skill sets sharpened. #SAGAFTRA #VO/SINGING COACHES/VO2013ATL #ACDA-NAfME #LittleKidsRock

Thankful that God allows me to do this work and it constantly gives me energy and excites me. Hope others feel the same. The bottom line is that I just had to learn this stuff. Nothing would stop me from learning this information. Really don’t need anymore skill sets except living with a mate. lol Have a blessed day.

Kim

 

 

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Retirement

Well…

I’ve taught K-12 for 18 years. I’m looking ahead to the future. I’m not sure what the future brings though.

Would I retire from teaching? Yes. It could be at year 20, 25, or by a miracle, 30.

Why do I talk about retirement now? Well…a person realizes that to concentrate on an area, you have to give it your best. It’s total focus. Although, I’m unsure if I’m able to do that in this economy. Flexibility is a huge issue. I’ve never had true flexibility in any job. Maybe, it’s time to review my goals for the present and future. I’m thankful for my past up to the present. I love what I do: teaching chorus and drama to kids. I also love working in entertainment: VOs, music, and film/television.

However, students pay attention to what they see and hear. That means television, films, and radio. If you’re not on their entertainment radar, you’re not important to listen to. This doesn’t mean that every student thinks in this way. However, I get the student’s attention outside of the classroom. That means when I show them my professional credentials, they pay attention. They recognize BET (Black Entertainment Television); radio spots for products that they own in their homes, or professional singers/bands that they listen to and if I know them.

However, I’m thrilled when I see my current and former students do well as singers as soloists and in choral and/or performing magnet programs and actors on film and television. They do get recognized and parents will send me letters or I’ll see their names on Facebook from agents that they booked television shows, and I’m grateful that I was a small part of their success.

Currently, a former music student, Brandon H., works with Usher in the New Look Foundation, and Storm R. is a child actress in recurring roles for BET television.

I’m a strong believer in working in education and the community. I’ve done this for my entire career. However, parents, students, and school systems seem to lack the respect that teachers should receive. I’ve always placed education first and entertainment second. Now, the switch may come sooner than later.

If you’re tired, it’s time to leave. I believe in this, although, I’m careful with this word. I’m not burned out. Just tired of gun violence and gun security; lack of respect in education; lack of respect for teachers; working 7 days / week because education doesn’t pay all the bills, etc.

I love it all: education and entertainment. Change comes at a price. However, change is constant and never ends.

So, I take one moment, day, and year at a time. Everyone’s path is different. As long as people like your work (very important), I hope to continue working for life in education and entertainment OR entertainment and education, but making sure that I enjoy what I’m doing too.

Life is too short.

Kim

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2013 in Arts Education, Uncategorized

 

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