American country singer Johnny Cash (1932 – 2003) sits with an acoustic guitar in a still from the film, ‘Road To Nashville,’ directed by Will Zenz, 1966. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

A Few Minutes a Day with Johnny Cash

Just a few minutes a day with your instrument can make the difference between becoming your best vocalist/musician or not.

My voice students have been coming along by leaps and bounds, and I sing every day – I’m always warming up and demonstrating with my students. Right now, my students, including piano students, are between the ages of 6 and 77. Korean, African American, Caucasian, young girls, middle-aged men…I could not have imagined this kind of diversity and joy when I left Corporate America and the cubicle environment in 2014.

What a blessing!

And yet of course I have a different set of struggles as a teacher and entrepreneur.

Perhaps you have personal experience with the struggle I’ll discuss today. Even though I sing virtually every day, I still suffer from performance anxiety when I sing solo in public. Not when I teach or speak, but when I sing.

This isn’t an easy thing for a voice teacher to admit.

I’m making steps to walk through this fear and become a competent public solo singer…updates will be coming!

In the meantime, I want to acknowledge dearly departed Johnny Cash, one of my favorite country singers. I learned to sing Folsom Prison Blues with my now-husband playing the guitar. One of the first times we practiced the song, I felt Johnny in the room with us. I mentioned it to George, and he did, too.

I have a two-pronged theory about why Folsom Prison Blues seems to be the only song I can sing well in public when I’m nervous and my body tenses. Here’s a clip of me singing the song last May at the Lake Music Recital.

One: This song is all in my first and low, full second register – I’m belting the blues and my larynx doesn’t tilt as it would if I went into light second register. So, I have plenty of breath, resonance, and a relatively stable larynx that will operate fairly well even when I have performance anxiety and tension in my body. That’s the physical part.

Two: The emotional/spiritual part, and connection with the composer on the other side. I call goosebumps angelbumps. When I felt Johnny in the room with us during those early rehearsals, my arms and legs were covered with angelbumps. Somehow, I feel I’m being supported by Johnny Cash every time I sing this song.

You want to hear something spooky? The very night after I wrote the above, I watched the movie The Soloist on television. (I highly recommend it.) Jamie Foxx’s sensitive, riveting, soul-stirring performance as mentally ill, homeless musical genus Nathaniel Ayers knocked my socks off.

In one moving scene, journalist Steve Lopez (played by the wonderful Robert Downey, Jr.) takes Ayers to hear a symphony rehearse Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3.

As the music closes, Ayers whispers, “He’s in the room.”

“Who is?” Lopez asks.


I get angelbumps just remembering. And I’ll remember this as I rehearse other songs in my first register by Carole King, Stevie Nicks and Mary Chapin Carpenter – all of whom are alive and well on planet Earth.

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice and Voice Your Love,


Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)