Teacher Feature: Keely Borland

Keely Borland has been with us since Sept 2017, and currently works with a roster of 10 Blue Feather students. Her instruments are voice and piano and she is attempting to learn some ukelele just for fun. She is an active performer, receiving ongoing vocal mentoring from Elizabeth Daniels and coaching sessions from Joy Schreier. She is passionate about the music she makes, and states,  "I just want to sing the stuff I love to sing. If I'm not enjoying it, why am I doing it?" 

This sentiment spills over into everything she does. Keely's first musical inspiration came from The Little Mermaid. As a child, she fell in love with the Disney classic and dreamed of becoming a voice over artist. So she started taking lessons, performing with local theater companies, and the rest was history. A chance to perform in a children's chorus in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat at Civic Light Opera in Pittsburgh, with Jody Benson (the voice of Disney's "Ariel") narrating, only fanned her passion. She was ecstatic, bringing Little Mermaid paraphernalia to rehearsals for Ms. Benson to sign. Keely crossed over into classical music around the age of 12 and has been at it ever since. 

What values hold a top priority in her lessons? Confidence is number one. Keely wants her students "to think for themselves," and be able to repeat back to her what she is looking for, in their own words, rather than mindlessly doing what she tells them. "If you're confident with a piece and not doubting yourself all the way through it, that can cross over to a lot of different things." 

Additionally, she believes in tailoring each lesson to the needs of her students in the moment. A great example of this occurred when she helped a piano student make up words to a song that was becoming a monotonous series of notes on a page. As they came up with their own imaginative words to go with the notes, the music came to life for the child.

When asked what obstacles stand in the way of success, Keely shared that kids often have an unrealistic "idea of what it means to be a performer or to go into music as a career." While she doesn't want to "dissuade them," she hopes "to give them a really honest picture of what it's like. Music is hard as a career. It requires hustling." She doesn't believe young people often realize that icons like Taylor Swift overcame significant obstacles to pursue the career they enjoy today. "Instant success"  is a fantasy, she explained; "If they really want to be a singer, you want them to know what they are getting into and still choose to do it."

A student who currently inspires Keely is a voice student in her teens named Caroline. Her range and confidence has greatly improved since they began work together. "The last couple lessons especially have been really, really good," Keely explained, adding that "she's able to laugh off mistakes," which Keely believes is an essential skill in order to progress. 

Upcoming professional events include The Mikado at The Victorian Theatre company in Baltimore this summer, where she'll be covering the role of "Yum Yum", as well as the Shenendoah Valley Bach Festival, and The Little Match Girl Passion with the Baltimore Choral Arts Society. In addition to the excellent work she does in our community, Keely also holds a church job. For more details on where and when you can hear her perform, please check out Keelyboswarthborland.com

Fun fact: "I geek out over film and tv and can't pick a favorite movie because there are so many amazing ones."