Notable Neighbors: Orla and Mito Mardin & Cynthia Eggers
“Per ben suonare bisogna ben cantare…”
To play well you must sing well.
By no means am I a singer, but singing was a huge part of my music education journey. In every area of my musical study (trumpet, jazz, composition, etc.) all of my most inspiring teachers made me sing my music, because they fully understood that our ability to hear drives everything else.
A musician playing music without first singing it is like an airline pilot attempting to take off and land while blindfolded. Imagine a blind artist trying to select paint colors and then trying to apply them to canvas. Or imagine yourself trying to drive a car with your eyes shut. This is analogous to a musician simply pressing keys or valves and thinking that music will result.
The “inner ear” is not only a physical element of the hearing process, but it is also a metaphorical, key element of musicianship – and one which all humans are capable of developing. The musician’s “inner ear” is their most important instrument.
A world-class musician first hears music “inside-out”. This is how Beethoven composed music when he was deaf, because in fact he heard the music inside out. The ability to hear music without anyone playing varies with individuals as much as fingerprints or snowflakes. Every person has a unique process of learning, but every person can learn to sing.
Orla and Mito Mardin first joined the Neighborhood Music School community over thirty years ago when their son, Wolf, studied Suzuki piano with Michelle Zingale. According to Mito, Michelle’s “influence was so great that our son is still an avid piano player.”
Eleven years ago, Orla herself became a student at NMS when she joined a brand new class at NMS: Vintage Voices. Mito soon joined her in class, and the couple have continued as members ever since. In Mito’s words, “You could say the parents followed the son in his footsteps to the joys of NMS.”
Vintage Voices is unique to Neighborhood Music School. The class is designed for students age 60 and up who want to stay active in mind and body through music and movement. Each week, participants explore low-intensity modern dance and vocal music of all styles. The class is co-taught by Tracey Albert, Director of Dance & Wellness and member of the Dance & Wellness faculty, and Ingeborg Schimmer, Group Music Instruction Coordinator and member of the Piano and Voice faculty.
“Combining music/singing and dance is a great source of joy as well as support for mental well-being in general,” said Mito. As an added benefit, Mito noted, “throughout the years we established solid friendships with the Vintage Voices members.”
Both Tracey and Ingeborg appreciate how much Mito and Orla contribute to every class. “They each bring a unique energy into the studio,” said Tracey. “I love working with Orla and Mito.”
“Orla is always willing to try new things, both in the movement and in the singing,” said Ingeborg. “Mito makes great effort in the singing and his voice carries well! In the movement he is fearless and always finds a reason to laugh.”
The members of Vintage Voices regularly perform throughout the year, alongside NMS students of all ages. “Our performances at the NMS recital evenings with all the other diverse participants are definitely highlights,” said Mito.
Ingeborg noted how important Mito and Orla have been to the success of Vintage Voices over the years. “The two are stalwarts of the class and are missed when they are away, visiting their son and grandchild in Germany.”
“They really have found a home in the class,” Ingeborg went on to say, “and coming from abroad, Orla from Germany, Mito from Turkey via Germany, that is a powerful thing.”
“Orla and Mito are part of a class that supports each other in and outside of the studio,” said Tracey, with admiration. “They are an inspiration to me.”
Cynthia has been a member of the Voice faculty at NMS for ten years, teaching students of all ages and in many different genres.
Learning how to breathe for singing is one of the best ways you can improve your vocal tone. Whether you are a voice student at NMS or you do most of your singing in your car, Cynthia has recorded this mini-lesson about breathing that will help your voice shine: