Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Breaking the Monotony

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Breaking the Monotony

Article excerpt

DO YOU OR YOUR STUDENTS ever feel bored with the repetition of your weekly schedule? Are you missing professional or adult level stimulation? Do you need to spice up your studio business with something more or something new? One of the most common complaints from teachers concerning their independent studio is the feeling of monotony. It is easy for voice teachers to fall into a confining pattern of weekly lessons teaching students high school age or younger with no variation or interaction with other adults or professionals. Students and teachers can feel stagnant until an approaching end of the term recital motivates student progress. Many independent teachers add lower paying adjunct collegiate teaching jobs or some other outlet to balance out their schedule. While these other outlets are fine pursuits, there is no reason why the issue of monotony cannot be remedied within the independent studio; there are numerous ways to break the monotony. Besides, managing a studio can be an exciting profession! Whether a teacher wants to add lots of breaks in the monotony or just a few, a whole spectrum of possibilities for adding variety to the studio has been incorporated at other independent studios. This article identifies some of the most successful options.

THE SISTER STUDIO

One of the simplest ways to add spice to the independent studio is to adopt a sister studio. Sister studios are naturally formed when a studio teacher has a like-minded colleague in the same local area or a set of studio teachers who are teaching at the same location. Together they can collaborate and plan creative joint events that break up the semester schedule and add wonderful enrichment opportunities for teachers and students. Sister studios often cooperate in workshops, master classes, benefit concerts, recitals, and even travel for out of town contests. Myriad possibilities that result from a bond with a sister studio may even include shared expenses.

Some sister studios have SNATS chapters in common where they plan shared workshops, and the student officers have the opportunity to collaborate with those from another studio. There is great benefit when teachers and students join to create a broader artistic community. Kristen McKinley teaches voice at Carroll Senior High School in Southlake, Texas, and has several sister studios. The voice teachers at Carroll Senior High School and Central High School in the neighboring town of Keller have joined to form their own SNATS chapter; in fact, their SNATS chapter just hosted their first combined workshop. Kristen explains their collaboration further: "We teachers perform together. Regina Walter, another voice teacher at Carroll Senior High, and I perform in the Southlake Variety Show each year to promote our studios. We all also stay connected on social networking sites, where we encourage each other, ask for advice and ideas, and keep up with recitals and events. With the technology available, the isolation of having a private studio can be a thing of the past. It is also really beneficial for the students to see their teachers getting along and supporting other studios, instead of seeing other singers and teachers as 'the enemy' or the competition."

THE COLLABORATIVE ACCOMPANIST

Another simple and growing popular addition to the independent studio is the smart selection of a collaborative accompanist. A pianist who can offer specialties in a particular genre, a foreign language, or can guide singers through song mapping from an accompaniment point of view can be an incredible asset. If a performance fee is assessed at the beginning of the semester, these sessions can be easily budgeted. A teacher has numerous possibilities to incorporate a collaborative accompanist into a special master class, studio class, workshop, or as part of an allotted number of lessons or rehearsals. Many teachers are also making this an option and calling it a "lesson add on." Kassadi Smith, a high school voice student at Studio Bella Voce in Fort Worth, Texas, has really benefitted from her experience with collaborative pianist, Rebecca Lowrey, who won the Accompanist of the Year award at the Dallas-Fort Worth area NATS chapter auditions. …

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