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Finding My Why

An earlier version of this post was posted on

When I was ten, Jo Estill visited my childhood home. I did not know who Jo was at the time, but didn’t mind cleaning up my room for our important visitor.

At that age I was determined to be on stage. I was the star of my choir concerts, the lead in all my school plays, and the loudest one at family gatherings, belting out “Defying Gravity” for anyone who would listen. I was a “great talent” that could not go to waste. So naturally, when Jo came to visit, I had to sing.

In my small living room next to a Steinway piano that had been in my family for generations, I sang to Jo for the first time. She lit up & said, "Wow! what a singer and pianist," complimented my mom, then, eventually, went on her way back to California.

My first Estill Course

About five years later, I attended my first official Estill Voice Training® Level 1 & 2 course. I knew my mom traveled across the world teaching this “Estill thing,” but I never really understood what she was actually teaching. In this first course, as a rising sophomore who would eventually go on to major in musical theatre, I found myself satisfied with the course, but not fully invested in how it would apply to my career as an actor. I was young, naive, and too worried about getting my Tony award.

As is customary during the end of her courses, my mom played the video: Jo Estill “Why I’m Doing This.

As tears started to flow, my “why” started to come into focus

Fast forward to now, Director of Operations for Estill Voice International, and a very proud Estill Master Trainer, who still performs. This position that I find myself in is not what I expected, but it’s certainly one I know Jo would be proud of.

Like Jo, I realized (luckily a little earlier in life than she) that my role in life was better suited helping others, “doing research, making graphs, in the lab, etc.”

We in the Estill community are helpers.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite Mr. Rogers quotes:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

While the voice may not be one of the life or death situations we see in the news, using it is still a vulnerable and intimate experience for most. Over 10+ years of teaching all types of voice users and personalities there is never a scarier task than performing that first siren.

In these moments, I am strengthened by Jo’s words-“Everyone has a beautiful voice.” They do. And thanks to Jo, I have the tools to help, encourage, facilitate, and reveal the beauty in everyone’s voice.

I am first and foremost grateful to Jo for creating such an incredible voice training model. But, even more so, grateful to Jo for giving me the strength to find my true vocation.

“Once you know how beautiful you are inside, there’s nothing you can’t dream and nothing you can’t do.”-Jo Estill
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