Monday, February 12, 2018

David Gabriel (1960 - 2013)

David Gabriel
I was writing to someone about singing today, and decided to look up my former voice teacher, David Gabriel. I was hoping to share some of my recent recorded work with him.

I was shocked and saddened to learn that he died 5 years ago at the age of 53.

I found David through the Music Connection in Los Angeles in the mid-90s, and I studied with him until I left Los Angeles in 2000, visiting his office at Hollywood and Vine once a week. We fell out of touch then, in that early pre-internet-for-everything time.

David was a fantastic teacher, with the perfect mix of kindness, patience, and mastery. He helped me understand what my voice was capable of (4 octaves!), and how to use it in an expressive, flexible, and sustainable way.

Before I started studying with David, I couldn't sing very long or very hard, and I wasn't even sure if I had a good voice or if I should be singing at all. David took me seriously starting from my first lesson. He was understanding of how sensitive people can be around their singing voices. He always made me feel like I could do it, and that the keys were practicing and understanding what your voice could do.

By the time I left, I knew that I had the technical skills and tools to sing at my own full capacity, and that the remaining barriers were stylistic and expressive. I may not have known exactly who I was as a singer, or how to make people feel something when I sang, but I knew I could do it, and was confident enough in my abilities to be able to tell people "I am a singer."

Over the years I studied with him, we got to know each other better and learned more about our respective lives, including the various tough times we both went through. David was a fairly private person, but he loved talking about his kids. It was years before he told me some of the other people he coached, perhaps most notably Axl Rose, but including a surprising number of other professional musicians across a wide range of genres. David was both modest about his work and protective of his other students' privacy. He also let me know that they weren't any better or worse than any of his other students. They all had challenges, problems, insecurities, and vocal things to work on.

If my singing is any good at all, it is because of the tools and training he gave me, and how those allowed me to perform and study on my own.

Thank you for the voice, David. I use it every day. I only wish you were still around to hear what I have been doing with it.

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