Finding Your Voice: My Interview With Martha Gleason

by Ari Schonbrun

Finding Your Voice: My Interview With Martha Gleason


We all have a story to tell, something important to say and a unique contribution only we can give to the world. But we often need help finding our voice. That’s why I’m so excited about this episode of the Whispers and Bricks podcast.

You are about to meet Martha Gleason, a voice and speaking expert with over 20 years of experience helping people find their voice. Martha, who has had a “lifelong love affair with the

voice”, is an expert at mentoring and teaching her clients how the voice works and how they can give memorable, powerful performances in speaking, acting or singing.

Episode Transcription:


Ari: Welcome to Whispers and Bricks. My name is Ari Schonbrun. And I’m your host. Today with me was Martha Gleason. And Martha is a voice and speaking expert. With over 20 years of helping clients find their voice. She teaches how the voice works, and the secrets of powerful performances. Also a mind body expert, Martha has maintained a meditation practice for over 20 years and teaches transformational tools for accessing inner strength and calmness in high stress situations. She specializes in helping clients turn anxiety into a powerful performance tool. Martha gives speakers and singers the strategies needed to reach their full performance potential. Martha graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor of theater arts. She was the winner of the Cal Burnett music theater award in Los Angeles. She was the winner of the National Music Theatre Award San Francisco. And finally, she was the winner of the national scholarship award at the American Music and Dramatic Academy in New York City. I met Martha about a year and a half ago when we both attended a program given by one of my mentors, David Newman, why I’ve had such poise and such charm, and I knew right away that we will become good friends. Please help me welcome to this episode of whispers and bricks. Martha Gleason.


Martha: Thank you, Ari, it’s great to be here with you this morning.



Ari: Thank you. I still remember when we were taking David Newman’s program, and each has had to present and then our peers would critique you remember that?


Martha: I do! Uh huh.


Ari: The one thing that sticks out of my mind is when you said to me after I went you critique me and you went, Ari, you have to stop using arms, and ORs.


Martha: That’s a common one. We all put those filler words in for sure. It’s something we all do, because we think we have to keep talking continuously, when actually, we can just hang out and enjoy the power of the pause. I like to call it the power of the pause. But I know you’re a fantastic professional presenter. So to be here today.


Ari: Well, thank you so much. I’m so happy you accepted my invitation. I tell you, that was an eye opener for me. I gotta be honest with you. Anyway, so as you know, the name of this podcast is whispers and bricks, the whispers of those voices telling us what is the right thing to do, and represents the good life. The bricks represent the bad things that we go through in life. Now, let’s start off with this. At what point in your life? Did you know that this was going to be your career path? And how did it happen?



Martha: That’s such a great question, Ari, I started falling in love with the voice as a school aged girl. Actually, in elementary school, people would ask me, What’s your favorite subject? You know, when you go to first grade, they say what’s your favorite subject? And I would say singing. And it’s really been a lifelong love affair with the voice. And so I would say I fell in love with singing in the voice at a very young age. But I had a variety of expressions of that work. So it was about 20 years ago that I actually started helping other people to find their voices.


Ari: Mm hmm. And how did that happen? Like, was it just you bumped into somebody one day, and you said, hey, you know, I think I can help you was it you notice something about somebody the way that was speaking the way they were talking the way they were presenting? And you said, you know, I think I can help that person? Can you pinpoint it?


Martha: I can actually, it’s an interesting question. Because I was on a track at UCLA, of achieving and winning and succeeding. And I was winning a lot of performance awards, I was getting a lot of roles. And I was I was in this performance track. And then something happened when I was 21 years old, I went on an international shipboard education program called Semester at Sea. And I sailed around the world, visiting 13 different countries. And I didn’t know what at the time, but during that trip, what was starting to happen was my own winning achieving succeeding tendencies. Were starting to relax a little bit and let go. And my view of the world was starting to expand. We went to places like Japan and China and India and Taiwan and Egypt. And I was seeing different cultures and hearing different languages and needing people from everywhere, all different types of religious backgrounds, and I don’t think I was fully aware of it at 21 years old, but what was happening was that achieving winning, succeeding, hard driving mindset I was in was beginning to relax and expand to include other people’s reality.


Ari: Wow, wow, I knew you were perfect for this podcast.


Martha: Yeah, it just happened. And it was, of course, a whole journey to the place where I started realizing that empowering others and helping others to find their voice, which is really a journey of helping them to find out who they really are, and becoming more and more centered in who you are. That’s what you have to do to find your voice. That would be my life’s work. And that the mind body tools that I started to learn. After I went on that trip, primarily kriya, yoga and meditation, the path of meditation would become vital and would become pillars, foundational pillars, for my work with my clients in helping them to feel calm and centered. When they’re under pressure. They know all eyes are on them. And they can activate that mind body connection to recenter and come into a really authentic place with their own voice.


Ari: Wow. So basically, it was a cruise that sets you off on this wonderful journey for you. Yes. Wow. I’ve never been on a cruise. I’m scared to death.



Martha: Yeah, well, certainly in these days, you know, at this was a very old ship. It was actually owned by Taiwanese crew. And it was very, very old. This was no luxury cruise ship. It was very basic. But we did circumnavigate the globe. And boy, did everybody end up coming back really a changed person.


Ari : Wow. So here’s what my listeners would like to know, what was some of the struggles and or failures, some of the bricks that you got to hit with? When you were starting out your career and throughout your career? 


Martha: Well, onething that comes to mind, Ari  is something that many many parents are facing right now. And that is working with children at home. So the room you’re seeing me sitting in right now is the studio in the room I’ve been working in for over 20 years, and I built this business while being the primary care giver for our two daughters who are right behind me over my shoulder. My husband had big, big work in the world that left me as the primary caregiver. And so I really had to balance having children at home and building a business and working I mean, had kids running in and out of literally that door, while I’d be working with students and clients. And that was a big challenge. But I’ve learned to sort of think of it more as not a brick, but a rock in the water. And the teaching and the work, you know, that flows through me would flow around the obstacles of being the primary caregiver, while serving my clients.


Ari: You kind of found the the work life balance. Sounds to me taking care of your kid while at the same time going ahead with your career. All in the same 25 square feet, so to speak.


Martha: Yes, exactly. And I think it’s something that all parents are finding out how to do now is how do we manage that work life balance, and certainly it’s more challenging during COVID. It really, really is. But that was certainly one of the bricks, other bricks were as music began to change from lyrical, beautiful melodic music into very hard driving powerful music. A lot of women were singing a lot of extreme vocal qualities they were belting. They were yelling on stage, and I had to learn really much more about how the voice actually works. How are we producing sound? How do we keep the voice healthy? When we have long teaching days or hard? You know, eight shows a week on Broadway. How do we do that? So wasn’t a brick, but it certainly was a rock in the stream. And I had to up my game and really get more training on voice production, how that actually works and how to keep the voice safe.



Ari: Wow, let me ask you this. Did you ever fall to a point so low? That you said to yourself, you know what? I quit? I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. And if you did, how did you deal with that? And how did you make that comeback? It’s obviously you you came back because you’re here. Alright, successful. But did you go through that? And if so, how did you do it today ever


Martha: quit? And you know, I can’t say honestly that I ever quit. No, I got this. Sir.


Ari: I didn’t ask you if you quit. You ever get to that level where you said I’m done? All right. And then you know, obviously you have to deal with that. And then you know, you have to come back and you say I’m not gonna quit or, you know, what was that? Like? When did that happen? How did it happen?


Martha: It’s a fantastic question. I’ll share a story when I was first starting to teach. We all have self doubts about our abilities and whether you can do it and I knew I could win on stage and I knew I could win in front of people and get the performance war awards and get the roles but Teaching is another skill coaching is a different skill. And so when I first started coaching, I was questioning even though I had had amazing mentors and coaches myself, I was questioning my own ability, could I really do this? And I’ll never forget, I had a student in this very room. And I had my hands on that keyboard that’s right behind me. And the thought came into my mind, am I good enough? Am I enough to be doing this work? Because I felt such a huge responsibility helping this client to find her voice. It’s such a personal expression of who we are. It’s such an important journey. And I felt this huge responsibility. My hands were on the keyboard. And that thought came in. Am I good enough? And immediately, of course, she didn’t know I had thought that. But immediately, she just began to weep. I don’t know what happened already. But she began to weep. And she said, I just have to tell you, what an amazing coach and teacher you are, to me and how much our work means to me. Wow, it was like the universe literally answered my doubt.


Ari: Wow, wow, that’s awesome. That was, yeah, that was a whisper. Without a doubt, that gave me confidence. Wow. And the rest, as they say, is history. 


Martha: Well the rest is history. Because you know, once you believe you can do it. Of course, you start setting yourself up onto a path where you can you get the knowledge and the training and the skills you need to become that expert in your field. And then you’re practicing and doing it and 20 years later, yes, you’re confident. But we all have those thoughts. We all have those thoughts. Am I good enough?


Ari: Absolutely. I mean, again, that’s one of the reasons why I’m doing this podcast, because there were 1000s of people out there just like you that have gone through things just like you. And maybe they didn’t have the wherewithal to pick themselves up by the bootstraps and say, No, I can do this, you know, maybe they quit too early. Alright, so that’s why I’m doing this podcast, because I want people to realize that no matter what you’re going through, somebody else has gone through that, and they’ve overcome it. And I want to bring those people out to the light so that, you know, people can realize, Hey, maybe I can do this, whatever it is,



Martha: yes, building self confidence, because we do have times where we just wonder, Am I up to this task, or life brings us down, I was working with a client in a group coaching conversation a few weeks ago, and she shared that two years ago, her son had been brutally murdered. Oh, my God, brutally murdered, and it just knocked her off her feet. And what we talked about was how going through that tragedy is giving actually helping her build the strength to come back from that tragedy, and do the work that she really feels called to do.


Ari: Wow.


Martha: And that her son is likely helping her.


Ari: Absolutely, as a matter of fact, one of my future episodes we’re going to have on a woman who lost a daughter, her daughter was 20 years old when she passed away suddenly, and it was just, and you know, how she managed and how she got through that. And that’s going to be a great episode as well. So let me ask you this, if you can point to one person, okay, who had the most influence in your life? Who would that be? And why?


Martha: You know, that’s a really good question. Thank you. There have been many people that I can point to, but, you know, who comes to mind immediately is my high school voice teacher. And she came in at a time I endured a lot of loss, and a lot of hardship as a child, and she came into my life and really showed me how to find my voice taught me how to sing, she won the Metropolitan Opera auditions when she was a younger singer herself. And she, she became this amazing teacher, but really also a mentor to me at a time when I really needed someone. And she helped me find my voice. Wow, through that process, I was able to survive the losses and the hardships and the traumas that I went through in my childhood and that so many of us go through, you know, this is not a free life. But when we have someone help us find our voice, it’s very empowering.


Ari: Wow. You know, people, a lot of people say, don’t need a mentor who needs a mentor, you know, but I find that it is so important, the more people I speak to, you know, most So the people that I talked to, they can always point back to, you know, who was the person who was my mentor? Alright, so the mentor is really, really important. Before we go, is there anything else that you’d like to share with my audience? Something from your heart?


Martha: You know, a lot of people say, I don’t like the sound of my voice. They don’t like how they sound over a microphone. They don’t like how they sound on the telephone. They don’t like how they sound when they’re singing or speaking, this is a very common thing I hear.



Ari: Oh, for sure. Because I know I hate hearing myself. I read the first time I heard myself on the recording, but like, that can’t be me. That’s horrible. You’re right,


 Martha: right. So I would say to your listeners, remember, you’re inside the speaker. And what you’re hearing is not what everyone else is hearing. And that everyone’s voice is inherently beautiful and their own. Because it is a unique expression of who and what you are. Therefore, it has to be beautiful. It’s not about whether you can sing beautiful high notes, or you have this great radio announcer tone. When you speak over the internet, it’s about you. If you think about it, the voices inside your body, it’s inside your throat inside your voice box, little tiny vocal folds vibrating together. It’s a vibrational instrument, hundreds of times per second to create noise and sound. And it’s yours.



Ari: I usually create noise, you’ve got that right.


Martha: Well, I would say are you You are your voice in your messaging and the work you’re doing is beautiful. And the voice always carries the consciousness that flows behind it. So pay attention to your own state of being and you’ll find your voice flows beautifully.


Ari: That’s great. So thanks so much for sharing your story. But let me ask you this. If people want to get in touch with you, obviously, once they hear you talking about what you do, and how you do it, I’m sure there are people out there that can probably benefit from your coaching. How would they get in touch with you?


Martha: is my website so they can reach right out to me on my website, you can book a breakthrough strategy session with me and I will dive into whatever issues you’re having. And you’ll receive tools you can start using right away, but just go to Martha Gleason And there’s lots of places all over the website that will connect you with my email or my calling.


Ari: Okay, great. So that’s So Always stuck up Martha Gleason Don’t forget the voice people. Yeah, okay, great. Listen, good luck going forward with with your voice teaching and with your your, I think you bring so much to this world and you so much. I mean, people need what you’ve got. And I think a lot of people just didn’t know where to go. And I’m glad that you accepted my invitation to come online because now my listeners know if there is a situation they’re looking for when it comes to their voice. They know that Martha Gleason is my guy.


Martha: Well, thank you, Ari. It’s an honor. I know you are doing big work as well. And I’m so glad you have this podcast, to you know, bring like minded people together and appreciate the invitation and looking forward to staying in touch and hearing more about whispers and bricks.

Ari: Thank you so much. You’ve been listening to whispers in bricks, and I’m your host every show. But until next time, listen to the whispers avoid the bricks and never, ever give up on your dreams.


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