Where do lessons take place?
Lessons are held at my Chelan, WA home. Once you are officially signed up for lessons I will give you the address and directions, if needed.
What are your hours?
Can you come to my house to teach?
Due to travel time and expense, private lessons will always be held in the Chelan studio.
How do you charge for lessons?
I hold 3 sessions per school year, adjusted to fit as many local school districts as possible. When you or your child sign up for lessons, I assume that we will enjoy a long-term musical relationship and their time is scheduled for the entire school year. However, each session (usually 9-13 weeks) begins a new billing period. Payment for all lessons in that session are expected at the first lesson.
Each half-hour piano lesson is $20. Half-hour voice lessons are $25. I recommend that piano students and voice students under the age of 14 are scheduled for one half-hour session per week. Voice students with more experience and/or attention span will get more out of an hour-long lesson at $50 each. Sibling groups will also receive a discount of $2 per student, per lesson.
So, for example, if you are taking weekly piano lessons and there are 10 weeks in that session, the charge will be $200 for the entire session, due at the first lesson.
There is also a yearly fee to cover music purchases, copies, recital expenses, and accompanists. The fee for piano students is $15 per year. The fee for voice students is $45 per year. If your student starts later in the school year, these fees are prorated in thirds.
Every 4-5 weeks there is a Group lesson that replaces the private lesson for that week. Each Group week is scheduled at the beginning of the school year, but specific Group times may change. Families are provided with a schedule for the year that shows Session dates, Group dates, and Recital dates. Groups will range in length from 30-60 minutes depending on the number of students in the Group, student age-range, and the amount of material to cover. Ideally, specific Groups would remain scheduled at the same day/time throughout the year. However, practically, this is rarely the case. There are studio fluctuations due to the addition of new students mid-year, adjustments due to skill and age, and accompanist availability for voice students, that necessitate time/day changes during Group weeks. Additionally, I try to be flexible for families who are juggling school, sports, or other commitments to help make it easier for each student to attend their Group lesson.
Group lessons are a very important part of my studio! Very few musicians work alone. It is important for students to learn about collaboration and performance in a non-threatening environment. Additionally, we can work on music theory, harmony, and other skills that are much more fun to do in a group setting. Students learn what to expect and how to get the most out of recitals. They perform for each other which allows them to hear other students at similar skill levels and gives them an opportunity to practice both performance skills and being a good audience. Recital week Groups are also an opportunity for vocalists to work with their accompanist.
Each Session culminates in a Recital celebration. There are 3 Recitals per year for all students. Recital dates and venues are set at the beginning of the school year.
Some students are thrilled by recitals, but most experience some performance anxiety. This is part of life. We work through all these feelings and expectations during Group lessons. The Recital experience is powerful! It takes a lot of courage to play or sing in front of a large group of people. Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather it is taking action in spite of fear. Over and over I see students who are very reticent to perform in their first Recital, but who perform in spite of fear, go on to see their future recitals as an exciting opportunity. For most, the fear never goes away completely. This is a life skill and it is one of my greatest joys to watch students grow in courage.
When there are high school seniors in the studio, we also hold a Senior Recital in which students perform several pieces in different styles to celebrate their work and repertoire as they prepare to move on to their next endeavors.
How do you handle rate changes?
Rates will change from time to time. I will do my best to make sure that this doesn’t come as a surprise to current students and their families. Rate changes are based on changes in expenses and fair market value. As always, if rates are a barrier to your ability to afford lessons, please speak with me. We may be able to find a solution that works for all involved. The 2018-2019 school year will see a rate change for new students (see above). Continuing students will not have the same rate increase until the 2019-2020 school year.
What if I just want to get a couple of voice lessons to prepare for an audition or performance?
That’s great! The charge is the same: $25 per half-hour and $50 for a full hour. If you decide to continue lessons after your big day, we will work out a prorated fee for the remainder of the session.
Do you teach during the summer?
Summertime is a very difficult time to schedule regular lessons for families who are often juggling summer work and vacations, but we can get creative. I sometimes offer short workshops during the summer and can provide some private lesson flexibility. Sign up for my email list to get updates about workshops, and send me note if you have specific questions.
If I miss a lesson, can I make it up?
It is your responsibility to attend each lesson at your scheduled time. However, emergencies, illness, and other unforeseen events are sometimes unavoidable. I will always do my best to schedule a makeup lesson if you let me know that you have an issue, but the after-school schedule is very full, so make-ups may conflict with school or sports. Please understand that makeups mean that I’m providing twice the amount of my time for no additional fee. A makeup is not guaranteed. It is a service I enjoy offering when I can.
How much should I expect to practice?
A good rule of thumb is 30 minutes a day. For younger students this may be too long. You can try splitting the time into two 15 minute practice times. Some students are inspired to work on their own music projects in addition to their lesson work. I am always happy to provide materials and coaching for their personal projects. When a student feels free to work on their own projects, they often feel more inspired to practice their lesson work.
Why do you call yourself a “Vocal Coach” instead of a “Voice Teacher?”
Very simply put, a vocal coach concentrates on interpretation, confidence, performance, and repertoire. A voice teacher generally focuses more on vocal technique rather than performance and interpretation. These are not hard and fast rules and there is often overlap between the two styles of working with voice students. This is also true for me.
As a Vocal Coach, I will refer to voice teachers or medical voice specialists to help students with vocal problems or interests that are beyond my knowledge or skill. Examples would be, possible voice injuries, illness that results in vocal changes that last more than a couple of weeks, or the desire to study opera. I have had over 30 years of technical training and practice, much of it in the classical style, but I specialize in Contemporary Commercial Music (CCM) like musical theatre, jazz, pop, and folk, and will refer opera enthusiasts to teachers who share that love. I am committed to continuing education and constant study, and I am currently working on certification in Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method.
How old should my child be to start lessons?
Piano: There are always exceptions, and we should talk about your child specifically. Your child will feel most confident with learning all the new skills involved with playing the piano if s/he is able to read both letters and numbers fluently. If your child has a learning disability such as dyslexia, you should let me know. In my experience, children 8 or older experience early success which can lead to a greater drive to learn. If you have a 6 or 7 year old you should consider the following questions, adapted from Martha Beth Lewis, Ph.D.:
- Can my child recognize the alphabet and sound out words?
- Can my child count to 20?
- Can my child sit still and concentrate for at least 10 minutes at a time?
- Does s/he know her/his left from her/his right most of the time?
- When s/he sits on the bench, are her/his forearms fairly parallel to the floor?
- Can my child use scissors?
- Does my child hold a crayon or writing utensil without difficulty?
- Has my child asked to learn to play an instrument?
- If s/he has not specifically requested lessons, does s/he (1) go to the piano to experiment (or is s/he drawn to one like a magnet elsewhere if you don’t have a piano at home)? (2) pretend to play (such as on the arm of a sofa)? (3) react favorably when you suggested lessons?
- Does s/he respond to music s/he hears by dancing or moving to it? Have you noticed an interest in music?
Voice: Humans are wired for singing. Making music with our voices is probably a part of every culture in the world. Learning “proper technique” is unnecessary for most (not all) children. What young children really need to develop their voice is freedom to play with sound, a safe environment for performing, exposure to a variety of music styles and vocalists, and opportunity to sing their hearts out.
I am happy to work with students as young as 6 if it is understood that our goals involve confidence, joy of making music, and learning new songs. It is a rare child whose voice is ready for the rigours of serious vocal technique work until they are several years older. Many young children love to sing, but their ear has not yet caught up with their enthusiasm. As long as making music remains fun and rewarding, nearly every child will develop an ear that matches their desire to make musical sounds.