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Shipman's music teachers
All the talent in the world is useless without perseverance.
Yes, music is a gift, but it is a gift that takes a lot of
work to bring out. This page is an appreciation of some of the
more important teachers that showed me the way and worked my
Although I'm now in the New Mexico
Symphony Orchestra Chorus and performing some of the world's
great works, at least 95% of the important training came from the
public school music programs in Hobbs, New Mexico, and to a
lesser extent from the First Presbyterian Church in Hobbs.
Musical education in the schools has suffered greatly since
the 1960s due to budget cuts, and I think it's a terrible shame.
I hope this page inspires you to support real music in the schools.
- Mrs. Freitag taught me to carry a tune when I was in the fourth
grade, roughly 1958, as part of the music program
at the First Presbyterian Church
in Hobbs, NM. She was in charge of the youth choir program. She
taught me to match pitch, the first step for a musical performer.
- My sister Sally, two years ahead of me in school, took up
clarinet. Before I started sixth grade she asked me if I were
interested in band. I told her I wanted to play bugle (probably
an influence of my Boy Scout activities). She replied that if I
took trumpet, that would take care of bugle. So in sixth grade
I bought an unbearably crappy used cornet and joined the band.
Our director, Mr. Blickensdorfer, was at that
time director at the high school, but taught us the absolute basics.
I still remember Rubank's Easy steps for trumpet.
- Roy Showalter was the band director
at Highland Junior High.
- Bob Lane, band director at Hobbs High,
was the best single teacher of musical performance practice I've
had. A great man.
- Eleanor Vaughan was the organist
and choir director at the First Presbyterian Church.
- Unfortunately I had only one semester's work under Bob Canfield
in the A Cappella chorus at Hobbs High, but he gave me my first
exposure to the choral repertoire beyond church music, and
taught me a lot about vocal production and choral singing.
Someday I'll tell the story about the day Betty Jane Freeborn
taught us all to belch on demand during a chorus trip to Artesia,
but that will have to wait. Betty Jane would be mortified now,
- I was in a garage band called Pagan Opera around 1969 while at New
Mexico Tech, singing lead vocals and playing keyboard bass.
- From 1970 through 1985 I didn't do much in the way of musical
performance. This was still an important period as I listened
constantly to music of all kinds, primarily rock.
- Mike Iatauro ran the music program
at New Mexico Tech from 1980 to 1994 and revived my interest in
- My usefulness as a choral singer increased greatly under
Bob Geary in the Baroque Choral Guild, 1991-93. Bob taught
me a lot of the refinements of great classical choral singing.
In the spring of 1992, he told me I needed to take lessons if
I wanted to stay in BCG. After taking from Kaye DeVries,
the teacher he recommended, for two years he told me during
my exit interview that I was one of the most improved singers
he'd ever seen in a two-year period.
- Good private voice teachers cost actual money, but they're
well worth it if you're serious about singing.
- A Web page cannot do justice to something as personal as
working with a teacher. Please see my
remarks about working with voice teachers.
- Kaye DeVries was my first private
voice teacher, in Cupertino, CA in 1991-93. She is
still teaching, last I heard: (408) 253-0243.
- I took voice lessons from Sandra Neel
in Albuquerque for several years starting in 1995.
She can be reached at (505) 822-0949.
- My current voice teacher is Paul Barrientos of Albuquerque.
He can be reached via e-mail at
- Last but certainly not last comes Roger Melone, choral
director of the NMSO Chorus.
Roger is clearly one of the world's best choral directors,
and singing in this group has taken me farther than I'd ever
dreamed I could go.
Many many other teachers and fellow musicians have contributed to my
abilities, too numerous to mention. I am grateful to all of them
for enriching my musical life.
Next: New Mexico Symphonic Chorus: schedule and reviews
See also: Shipman's music page
John W. Shipman,
Last updated: 2004/01/15 01:27:32