Syracuse native Elisa Sciscioli Keeler always loved to sing, and she made an interesting discovery when attending Ithaca College for her undergraduate degrees in vocal performance and music education.
"I noticed that when I sing, I feel calmer and more centered," she said. "I feel happier and more connected, particularly when singing in groups." She pursued a masters degree in transpersonal psychology focusing on the therapeutic benefits of singing, which led her to create singing workshops for people of all ages.
Keeler, who now lives in Ithaca, is bring her workshop Freeing Your Voice to the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn at 10 a.m. Sept. 21. The two-hour workshop is for everyone age 12 and up who wants to reconnect to the joy of singing.
"People will be learning more about their voices and how best to support them, for singing and for speaking," she said. "They'll learn simple songs from different cultures as well as spirituals. And they will be experiencing a sense of joyous community."
Keeler has strong Central New York roots. She grew up in the Strathmore area of Syracuse, the daughter of longtime Syracuse public official Vito Sciscioli. Her husband grew up in Skaneateles, the son of math and home economics teachers in the Auburn City School District.
And she has created strong community ties in Ithaca, where she is working with the Ithaca City School District to encourage more diverse participation in the arts. She brings a world music workshop into every third and ninth grade classroom in the district. She also created a program for children of color that works out of Ithaca's Southside Community Center.
"I was inspired by my dad's work in community and development in Syracuse," Keeler said. "It's fulfilling to be able to give back to the community."
Not all of Keeler's work is community based. She also works with aspiring and professional singers, including award-winning internationally touring cellist, composer and vocalist Hank Roberts.
"(Keeler's) knowledge of the mechanics of the voice and how it manifests itself vibrationally in the body (as a singing vessel) has been extremely beneficial in my becoming aware of specific areas of vibrational phenomena that are unfolding when I sing, and how I can use them to my advantage tonally and musically to sing more efficiently, effortlessly and joyously," Roberts said in a testimonial.
Keeler also sings with and leads the Honey Child Soul Quintet, which performed earlier this year at the Schweinfurth. Formerly with the band Solstice, she has performed with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and collaborated with Kevin Kinsella, formerly of John Brown's Body. Keeler recently released an album called "Songs of the Earth: Multicultural Songs for the Circle," which features several songs from the Freeing Your Voice workshop.
While singing brings her joy, Keeler is thrilled to bring her workshop to Auburn. "My greatest fulfillment is being in a circle of people and getting everyone singing," she said. "The songs I teach are very simple but have beautiful harmonies."
What: Freeing Your Voice vocal workshop
Who: Taught by Elisa Sciscioli Keeler
When: 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019
Where: Schweinfurth Art Center, 205 Genesee St., Auburn
Cost: $35 for Schweinfurth members, $45 for nonmembers
Details: For everyone age 12 and up. Learn vocal exercises that increase vocal health and stamina. Learn how to use breath support and movement, and other ways to achieve pitch accuracy.
Registration: Online or call 315.255.1553