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Teacher Feature: Grace Otto

Blooming Cactus Music is excited to welcome its newest instructor, Ms. Grace Otto - Voice & Piano.

Grace Otto is an independent pop singer/songwriter currently residing in Phoenix Arizona.  Her musical journey started on her grandfather's lap while he played jazz piano standards and fakebooks.  After that, she found her voice on community theater stages, where eventually she found her unique style of writing both for plays and for piano/pop music.  She became a serial open mic performer, playing all around her college town of Tucson Arizona.  What started as something fun to do on Tuesday and Thursday nights turned into a deep passion.  After she graduated from the University of Arizona in 2019  (BA-Theater; emphasis in playwriting/original works) she knew she had to give music a shot. At the University of Arizona, she studied voice with Monty Ralston, Mike Padilla and eventually with Youtube voice educator and author Sam Johnson.  At the core of all of her artistic endeavors is revolutionary love and dedication to expressing her small corner of the kaleidoscope of humanity.  Although she is new to teaching, she is over the moon to start this new adventure and hopes she can inspire her students with bold joy, at the piano or in vocal training.

Why did you choose your instrument? What do you love about it? What do you find challenging?

It’s easy to practice when you love your instrument, which is why I sing, I mean, who doesn’t?  I actually think this is both the thing I love and one of the biggest challenges; that everyone loves to sing.  On one hand, it can be one of the most uniting beautiful experiences and the sheer volume of good singers means there’s an abundance of beautiful voices to be heard.  At the same time, there’s quite a bit of competition and I think people don’t take singing as seriously as other instruments.  Sure, singing can be a gift but it still takes cultivation, work and tons of vulnerability.  Most musicians can pick up a new instrument if they don’t like the tone of what they’re playing; turn up the gain, distortion, mess around with guitar or bass pedals.  Singers have their instruments for their entire lives and you can’t exactly trade in your vocal chords for ones that can access higher notes or sound like Amy Winehouse.  It’s just… you.  You are the instrument.  

In terms of piano, I learned piano so I could write music and sing.  It clicked with me in a way guitar just didn’t and once I got through the initial learning period, I started to love the piano.  “The piano, it sounds like a carnival” to quote Billy Joel.  There’s something about the range of a piano I love.  The sparkly highs and those deep booming lows.  It’s also theory in motion, so I found that a lot easier to learn.  I’d say the challenge with piano is getting it from point A to point B and how high the ceiling can be.  

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