Studio Policies & Guidelines

Studio Policies

Lessons may be paid for by cash or check, either on a lesson-by-lesson or monthly basis at the beginning of the month.  If the student arrives at a lesson without payment, I have the right to refuse to teach that lesson.

Weekly lesson costs do not include books or other materials.  Any sheet music or books we use may be purchased by the student or by me with reimbursement from the student.

Lessons may be canceled by the student with no penalty until 24 hours in advance.  The lesson may be rescheduled if desired, otherwise, any payment carries forward to the next lesson.  When a student lets me know about an absence in advance, I am able to offer that time to another student who may need it. Not coming to a lesson without prior notice may be considered a “no-show” and charged.  My time is valuable and sometimes includes the added cost of childcare for my children. Special allowances may be made for emergencies.

For expected vacations or other planned absences from lessons, I expect to be notified at least a week in advance. If a student is ill, notify me as soon as it is determined that he or she will not attend school or work that day. Do not come to lessons sick. Not only are you unable to effectively sing, sharing your germs with other singers is anything but polite.

Please let me know as soon as possible if the student has an audition or is planning on participating in a festival or camp. Without early notice, I cannot do my best to select music and/or prepare him or her adequately to give a top performance.

You may contact me at any time by e-mail with questions. I will do my best to respond within 24 hours on weekdays.

Termination Policy

Sometimes the student-teacher working relationship simply doesn’t “click.” Please speak to me, so that we can find a solution, whether it be a change in our lessons or finding a new teacher. If a student wishes to end lessons, I require a two-week written notice.

An excessive number of missed lessons implies a lack of commitment and may result in being dismissed from the studio at the teacher’s discretion.

Studio Guidelines

Practicing is to your advantage. And I cannot do it for you. You will make the most progress if you sing everyday. If you are not in the habit of singing regularly, it is best to begin with multiple short sessions of practice rather than one long one. Make the most of your time, but do warm up, and never over-sing. Singing every day, even for a short period of time, will yield better results than practicing for an extended period of time once a week.

Practicing should be performed while standing up with good posture, and in a quiet room. If you can, practice with a mirror. When learning songs, the text should first be read aloud as a poem, with appropriate feeling and expression, then spoken to the rhythm of the music while maintaining expression and accentuation. Next, sing through the music on a comfortable vowel before putting the text and music together.

If you experience pain or discomfort, stop. Rest when your voice is tired. If your speaking voice is hoarse, you should rest. And ask if you have any concerns. You only get one voice, so taking care of it is important

Never be afraid to ask a question. There is no crime in not knowing something, and asking is the best way to find answers.

I am here to help you with what you want to do with your singing. Please be honest so that I can help you to the best of my abilities. This means informing me of your goals, small and large.

More Helpful Hints & Practice Tips

Reviewing what was done in the lesson and/or writing it down in a notebook the same day helps you hold on to new skills and ideas learned in the lesson.

Making legible notes in pencil on your music is a great help in remembering all the little interpretive details and any tricky spots while you are singing. Mark breaths, expression marks, tempo changes, pronunciation notes, and any other comments or doodles that help you remember what you do to sing your best.

Once you begin to get comfortable with a piece, listening to recordings is very helpful for giving you new ideas and perspectives. Try to find three different performances to listen to. Do not imitate the performer, but do listen and take notes on what they do differently from each other. Think about what each singer does and why, and decide what you want to do expressively when you sing the piece, even if it is completely different from any of the recordings.

Recording your lessons, and possibly even practice sessions, is a useful tool. Listening to these recordings can allow you to hear how your voice sounds to others, since bone- and tissue-conduction always affect our own perception. It can also show you a great deal that one simply does not notice at the moment, for instance whether you are truly singing a legato line.

Attending live performances is one of the most important things you can do as a musician. We are lucky to have YouTube and easy access to recordings, but nothing replaces the concert experience. It forces you to focus entirely on the performance, not just using it as background music, and there is a different energy and excitement to actually being in the room. You are part of the action; your responses and energy directly affect the performance (ask any actor what it’s like to play to a “dead” audience). You can see all the performers, unlike videos where you can only see what the camera follows. In many cases, you can even talk to the performers after the performance, especially for local events. And hey, it’s live. Anything could happen…