Moira Stern Greyland: Reviews from my private students

“It was about five years ago that I met Moira. I was singing Don Alfonso in her production of “Cosi fan Tutte”. I was sixty years old at the time and had not been very successful. The thing that was holding me back was my, too wide too slow vibrato. Everyone told me that ‘you’re getting older and that kind of vibrato was inevitable, there’s nothing you can do about it’. Moira knew that my problem was not caused by age but improper support and placement. She quickly set about to rectify the problem and set me on the path to success. Since that time I have sung eleven leading roles with six opera companies, and I’m booked through the end of the year. My thanks and gratitude to Moira Greyland!!!” —Terry James Welborn

“Moira Stern is to voice training as Stella Adler is to dramatic training. I’m getting cast in musicals now.” —Anthony St. Martin, Actor, Director and Producer

“Moira Stern’s exceptional enthusiasm and aptitude for teaching are absolutely inspirational. Within a year and a half studying with her, she has taught me correct placement and proper breathing. Now I can sing without strain, and I can apply her technique to any style. Moira has been a positive guiding force—both by reinforcing my love for singing as well as encouraging me to follow my passions and my dreams! Thank you Moira!!” —Jan Milos

Hi Moira! It was wonderful hearing from you! I hope that you are happy and settled into your new area and that the boys are adjusting well. I miss our times together. You are one of the most patient teachers I have come across! You really took your time with me to make sure that I was learning correctly, that my fingering, hand position and playing were done right, so that I would not develop bad habits. You made sure that I understood and challenged me to work hard and encouraged me when I did well, and very patiently corrected me when I was wrong. You never put me down, or got impatient with me when I after several tries still did the same thing wrong! Thank you for being such an awesome teacher. I wish we had had more time together. If you ever move back to this area please let me know! --Becky Gardner

Moira is an excellent voice teacher with an almost uncanny grasp of vocal issues and how to solve them. I learned a lot from her during my lessons. She is understanding, yet firm, and got more out of me than I thought possible. –Bill Paisner, Director, Southwest Women’s Chorus.

I met Moira in December, 2010. I heard her sing and had a “mini” 10-minute impromptu lesson with her. I immediately realized that she had an amazing gift for teaching and was probably the new teacher I was looking for. I started taking lessons with Moira in January 2011 and, so far, it has been an amazing journey of constant learning and discovery.

I have studied voice for 35 years, and yet, never was really instructed on correct breathing and support, something which Moira addressed in our very first lesson, and which has started to make a world of difference for me. Over the last 6 months, Moira has taught me proper placement, how to open the back of my throat and to keep it open, and how to sustain long phrases of music.

Moira’s teaching technique includes listening to professional singers interpret arias, (see how so-and-so sings this as opposed to…?) as well as being recorded during the lesson and listening to playback to hear oneself. I find this to be tremendously beneficial; it has really helped me to “hear” myself.

The study of the voice is an ongoing learning curve for me, but Moira’s incredible knowledge of the voice and how it works, plus her great enthusiasm for teaching and her positive attitude, makes each lesson a joy. Every time I leave a lesson, I feel like I have made incredible progress – something that I have not really had much of with previous teachers. I am incredibly thankful that I have found her and am looking forward to continuing as her student for a good long while to come. –Juliana Bradley
(Additional note from Juliana Bradley:)

DEAR MOIRA! I'm SOOOO excited! I'm always alone in the office for a little while in the morning and I always sing a little while I do all the "opening the office" stuff... Well, I just had a HUGE BREAKTHROUGH moment with Wiegenlied! I am shaking! I had goosebumps... I felt like I was channeling Marilyn Horne... NO EFFORT whatsoever... The sound was just pouring out of me like someone threw a switch and turned on a CD.... I can't get over it! It's starting to work...! I could just cry, I'm so happy!
Now all I need is consistency! I'm sending you a GIANT HUG, cause this is all because of YOU! Thank you, thank you, thank you...for giving me my voice, finally!!!!

Hi Moira!

How are you? I'm doing well, but I've missed you SO MUCH. So much has happened in these 8 months since we moved from Big Bear, and I have had many occasions to mentally thank you along the way.

Just last semester, I signed up for a music theory class and an intermediate piano class. When I arrived at the first intermediate piano class meeting, the teacher took one look at me and told me to audition for a spot in the applied music program. Students in the applied music program get private lessons in the instrument they audition with, and the experience of playing at several recitals that the school holds.

I had only one week to prepare for the audition, since I hadn't heard of applied music until just then. I wanted to play a nice piano piece that I had already learned, since I didn't think I had time to learn a new one and master it in a week. So I was looking through my piano books when I thought of you, and brought out Bach's Prelude no. 1 in C.

I still remember that lesson we had when I was saying that I wasn't such a good piano player, and you sat me down at the piano and had me sight read that song. That experience was such a boost to my confidence and courage, and I thought that piece would be the perfect song for the audition. It only took a little time to dust the song off and bring it back to full speed, and I went to the audition fully prepared.

All of your lessons on how to introduce yourself onstage served me very well - not only did I ace the audition, but I had a fantastic time at the other recitals in Applied Music. Through the Applied Music program I was assigned a very nice piano teacher, Lavaun, who was just about the opposite of my first piano teacher. She was very kind, understanding, and always telling me that I could do it - she reminded me of you. With her help, and a good deal of Rep Counting, I learned the first movement of Mozart's Piano Sonata no. 15, among other pieces.

Playing that piece onstage in front of college-aged students and even some professors was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life. I thought of you a lot that day, Moira. Without your help and encouragement, I wouldn't have dared to try all the fun things I've done here in Cypress - like audition for a instrumental scholarship (harp, of course) from a little 'friends of the cultural arts' society based in Cypress. My "younger-older" brother Kevin also auditioned on the bagpipes. We were pretty thrilled to find out that we had both won scholarships.

I've been playing harp at a local retirement home once a week, an hour at lunch time. The residents are so nice. Sometimes I'll play Danny Boy, and a couple of minutes later, a resident will come up and ask, "Can you play Danny Boy?" : ) I've just been volunteering my time, but because I play there so often, they've hired me to play 'special music' for them at chapel once or twice, and I even got a wedding gig there. (A staff member was getting married.) It's been really rewarding to be able to share my harp music with them. They enjoy it so much.

I've also joined a youth orchestra in Rosemead, called Buddha's Light Youth Symphony Orchestra. As you probably guessed from the name, Buddha's Light is made up of mostly Chinese music students in the High School grades. We are working on a number of pieces, including the overture to The Wasps by Vaughan Williams, and Tales of the Vienna Woods. It's been really fun to be in an orchestra, and it's been an interesting cultural experience.

Probably the most exciting thing that's happened has been participating in the Music Education sessions and the Valeria Finzi Memorial Scholarship auditions. I learned Handel's Passacaglia in B flat minor from Yolanda Kondanassis' book, and Toccata from the graded harp solos book by Linda Wood and Susann McDonald. The Passacaglia was the hardest piece I have ever attempted to learn on any instrument. At first I didn't think it would be possible to learn it at all - but then I remembered my trusty Rep Counter!

The Music Education program is like practice auditions. A lot of the kids who are competing for the Valeria Finzi Memorial Scholarships participate in it, but you can also be in just one or the other. There are two sessions, a month apart, and it's a lot of fun to see how everyone has improved over the course of that month. Groups of about ten harpists come to Sylvia Woods' shop and play in front of the group and a "judge." Everyone is really supportive and the "judge" gives you great tips on how to improve your playing for the next time. I played my pieces, a little shakily at first, and the woman who was judging was really nice and gave me some great advice. When I came back to my seat, Mom said, "Do you know who that was? That was Dan Yu!" I was flabbergasted!

At the Music Education sessions, I met a lot of nice harpists who were going to try for the Valeria Finzi Memorial Scholarship. Some of them had been playing since they were very young. No one was super competitive, though, and we all wished each other good luck. A month after the second session, it was time for the competition, and all of the harpists who were competing came once again to Sylvia Woods' harp center and waited nervously in the back room for our chance to audition. As each harpist's name was called, they made their way to the main room of the store, now empty except for the harpist, the harp, and the judges' table. There were three judges, a harp teacher, a professional performing harpist, and a opera singer - every year, they have two harpist judges and one non-harp musician, for balance.

On our way home, Mom and I chatted in the car. We talked about how glad I was to have had the chance to meet such wonderful harpists and get the experience in auditioning. We both knew that the Scholarships would probably go to harpists who had been playing since they were four, and we were looking forward to coming back next year when I would be more in the running for actually winning a scholarship.

You can imagine my surprise when we got a call as soon as we got home, telling me that I had won! I was flabbergasted again. Never for a moment had I even thought that that might happen! I knew right then that I had to write to you to tell you and thank you again and again (and again) for giving me such a strong foundation in music, harp playing, and living life to the fullest. Not a week goes by that I don't use a skill you taught me or remember a lesson that you gave me.

I hope that everything is going great for you, and I look forward to seeing you at Lea Lyn Bennet's harp workshop. I told everyone at the Beach Cities Harp Ring about it.

With love,

Catya Carothers

June 30, 2011

To Whom It May Concern,

I can say without hesitation that Moira is one of the best teachers I have ever had.

I began voice lessons in high school, and the pursued a degree in music in college as a voice major. During this time I had four different teachers, and worked with many others. My voice improved moderately, but I never reached a level I was happy with, and I never stood out much among my peers. I left college feeling discouraged and frustrated, and I hadn’t planned on pursuing music further. My father, however, encouraged me to find another teacher, and so I took his advice, and found Moira.

In the time I studied with Moira, my voice improved dramatically, and I become confident in my abilities. She was able to identify the problems I was having, and help me to deal with each issue practically and effectively. She presented me to music that I had never thought I would be able to sing, including introducing me to opera. I began singing at my church, and soon gained a reputation for having “the voice of an angel”, a comment I have received several times after studying with Moira, and seldom before.

Moira gave me the tools I needed to work with my voice and be able to sing consistently well. I have grown so much more confident as a vocalist. I now hold a position at my new church (since I was married) as a cantor, and I sing every Sunday and for special events.

I also studied the harp with Moira as a complete beginner, and she gave me a firm foundation of good, healthy technique. She has a wonderful method of teaching that got me right into playing, and corrected many problems before they could become bad habits. She helped me to achieve my goal of accompanying myself on the harp. I was so lucky to be able to find an instructor who is so talented as both a vocalist and harpist, and who is also a wonderful teacher.

I will never forget what I learned from Moira, and I will be forever thankful for the opportunity of working with her.

Natalie McMeeken

Hello Ms. Stern, I just wanted to take a moment to thank you and your fledgling opera company for bringing this great art form to our area. My family and I were at the Sunday performance of "Cosi fan tutti" and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. While I, as a 1st generation Italian-American, have opera in my genes, my Sister with those same genes had never experienced an opera, live or otherwise. My wife and I decided to remedy that by taking her to see first, Opera ala carte's excellent and wonderfully authentic production of "The Mikado" in Escondido Saturday evening followed by your splendid production on Sunday. I think we made a convert thanks to the beautiful work of both casts. I must admit, I did not expect the level of talent and professionalism from a "local" opera company that you and your company displayed; it was outstanding. I particularly enjoyed the subtle changes you incorporated, i.e., did the girls really know the "Albanians" hadn't taken the poison? You interestingly enough, had Don Alfonso "talk to the ladies" instead of Guglielmo. Your "Come scoglio was dead on, bravisima! I have heard Ferrando's "Una aura amorosa" sung more forcefully and (unfortunately)faster by many great tenor's including Pavrotti and Rainer Trost but your young tenor gave it the sweet, tender yet passionate quality that, in my mind, this aria requires to bring tears to the eye's as it did for my wife, my sister and I confess, myself. It reminded me of Alfredo Kraus's beautiful rendition. I unfortunately lost the program so I don't know his name but please pass my comments on to him for us. I could go on and on but kudos to all must sufice. The old Monty Python players used to use the phrase "and now for something completely different" to introduce a new skit. Thank you, your company and all involved for having the courage to bring something "completely different" to our area. I hope what must have been a disappointment in the numbers in attendance does not discourage you from continuing your proposed schedule. We have lived in this town since 1981 and as a resident and 10-year member and Chairman of the Planning Commission, I have witnessed and participated first hand, in its growth, for better or for worse, into what it is today. Sadly one of the areas of growth that has lagged behind has been the arts. That will change and is changing thorough the efforts of people like you and all those involved in this project. I strongly encourage you to continue with your plans for the next two Operas and beyond with the assurance that my family will be there with as many others as we can convince to try "something completely different." --John Telesio