We started the day today as these fine singers start most of their days in this beautiful setting — with a little exercise. This is a supremely gorgeous location up at 9,400 feet. The surrounding peaks rise up to 13,000 feet, creating a cozy valley. It was inspiring to see a group of singers wipe the sleep from their eyes while we gathered early in the morning, and then be transformed into a vibrant cohesive group as we reached our destination.

I brought my GPS running watch along on the hike and have these fun charts to show for it. I suppose a GPS watch is not too different than Velvet Singer. The watch doesn’t run for you, it just makes running more fun and then shows you some cool data afterward. I like wearing it on a long run because it feels like I have an audience — maybe not a live audience, but I know I’ll at least show my wife my stats when I get home. It is a small thing, but that feeling of having an audience can sometimes help me make that extra push to go farther faster.

Co-founders Linda Poetschke and Mary Jane Johnson have created a real gem in the Taos Opera Institute. They welcomed me with a warm smile and have a great setup for our session this afternoon. Dana Brown and Matthew Chellis from Roosevelt University led the hike this morning (and are now co-teaching a very talented young tenor in the next room).

This program does a fantastic job at helping young singers “bridge the gap between academia and apprenticeships” focusing on body, mind, and spirit. The singers I met this morning are jazzed up and feeling ready for tonight’s final dress rehearsal / feedback session.