Voice and Piano Lessons in Vallejo!

I am excited to announce that I now have a new home studio in Vallejo, CA!

I teach private voice and piano lessons for all ages and experience levels.

Beginning Voice: ages 6 and up; 30-45 minute weekly lessons for beginners (depending on age and level)

Intermediate/Advanced Voice: all ages; 45-60 minute weekly lessons, in classical or popular vocal technique.

Beginning Piano: ages 4 and up; 30 minute weekly lessons (or 15 minutes for very young beginners) for beginners.  I usually recommend increasing to 45 minute lessons once a student starts learning more challenging music (around level two of a method series).

Intermediate Piano: all ages; 45-60 minute weekly lessons.

Beginning Voice/Piano Combination: all ages; 45-min for beginners, increasing lesson length when needed.  This is a good way to get started reading music and singing, and is often a good choice for younger beginners.

A brief note about materials and repertoire: I will recommend specific books for use in lessons.  I generally use the Piano Adventures series for my piano students.  Voice students will be asked to purchase music as well, usually at least one songbook and one book of vocal exercises to build technique, which I will recommend based on skill level.

 

 

 

 

Classical Music is Not Dead

I recently read this article on Slate.com, proclaiming Classical Music dead and irrelevant, as well as these two excellent responses, a line-by-line rebuttal from Proper Discord, and Occupy Classical Music from Head/Voice.

The misconception that classical music is dead/dying makes me angry.  This art form is something that I am passionate about, and I hate to hear ignorant people describe it as irrelevant and powerless.  I don’t have data and numbers to prove my points, all I have are my observations and opinions.  As a student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, I was surrounded by incredibly talented and passionate musicians who inspired me with their dedication to their craft.  As an aspiring opera singer in my early twenties, I had to explain my chosen career to countless confused individuals who didn’t even know that opera singers really still existed.  And now, as a voice and piano teacher, I want to help my students discover the same passion for music that has inspired me.

It’s true that classical music is not as popular as many other forms of entertainment, but it still has an audience.  Just because something falls outside of mainstream tastes does not mean that nobody likes it– just look at the thriving indie music scene.  I believe that in our electronic and impersonal world, live music of all genres can bring us back together, make us feel things together, and connect us with each other.

And let’s not forget the growth of new opera companies and performing ensembles started by young performers with the goal of making opera/classical music accessible to everyone.  Is this a sign of a dying art form?  No.  Opera on Tap and Classical Revolution both organize performances in informal settings like bars and cafes, to bring music to the people.  This eliminates the obstacles that sometimes stand between the average citizen and an opera performance, like expensive tickets, fancy clothes, and proper audience decorum.  Instead, audience members can sit with friends, have a drink, and enjoy the music the way it was meant to be enjoyed.

Many, many of my classmates from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music are building their own careers in new music ensembles and other exciting projects, and doing so quite successfully.  There are also new opera companies being formed by young singers who just want to make music, like San Francisco’s Waffle Opera.  These singers are hungry for opportunities to perform, so they are creating their own, and finding an eager audience.  These organizations prove that classical music and opera are, in fact, very much alive.

It all comes down to the fact that a live performance by an excellent musician is a moving and powerful thing.   This concept easily gets lost in modern pop music, with all the special effects and auto-tune and pyrotechnics.  But being in the same room as a truly great performer (in any genre of music) and really feeling the energy and passion of the performance is an amazing experience.  There is nothing else like it.

This is especially true in classical music, which generally uses no microphones or other amplification, so the wall of sound that is washing over you is PURE ACOUSTIC AWESOMENESS.  If you’ve never been to a live performance by a great orchestra or opera singer, DO IT.  Trust me.  Even if maybe you get bored after an hour or two or don’t absolutely love the whole thing, I guarantee there will be at least a few moments when you are hit by a huge wave of sound that leaves you with goosebumps and a smile on your face.

Classical music is far from dying.  It’s growing and evolving.  Some people are just to narrow-minded and lazy to look for it outside the traditional big opera houses and symphony halls.  Some people don’t realize that you can head over to an intimate cafe for a drink and watch some chamber music or opera scenes.  Some people just don’t understand the power of music and the dedication of those who have been inspired by it.  We are not giving up, and classical music is not dying.

Recommended Materials for Voice Students

There are many different music anthologies and songbooks out there, so I thought I’d put together a list of the ones that I recommend for my students.  I’m always looking for more music for my students, so I’ll keep adding to this list as my music library grows.  If you have any favorite books, I’d love to hear your suggestions as well!

MUSICAL THEATER ANTHOLOGIES

The Teen’s Musical Theater Collection – Young Women’s edition or Young Men’s edition, with available piano accompaniment CD.  Great collection of standard repertoire in a variety of styles and ranges.  Recommended for beginners.

Broadway Presents: Teens’ Musical Theatre Anthology – Female Edition or Male Edition, with piano accompaniment CD.   Slightly more advanced songs that venture outside of the standard repertoire, with some mature themes.  Contains songs in a variety of vocal ranges, so not all of the songs will work for each singer.  Recommended for older teens who may not have settled into a specific voice type yet.

Singer’s Musical Theatre Anthology Series – Several volumes available for each voice type: Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano/Belter, Tenor, and Baritone/Bass.  Piano accompaniment CDs available.  Volume 1 generally contains standard songs from classic musicals, while the later volumes have songs from newer musicals.   Highly recommended for serious musical theater singers.

FOR CLASSICAL SINGERS

Easy Solos for Beginning Singers series – For Soprano, Mezzo-soprano/Alto, Tenor, and Baritone, with available CD of piano accompaniment.  Edited and compiled by Joan Frey Boytim.   A great starting point for students interested in classical singing.

First Book of Solos series – for Soprano, Mezzo-soprano/Alto, Tenor, Baritone, with available CD of piano accompaniment.  Several volumes of songs for each voice type.  Most songs are in English, with some in other languages as well.  There is also a Second Book of Solos series with even more challenging songs.  Edited and compiled by Joan Frey Boytim.   This series is highly recommended for all high school age students interested in classical singing, but many of the pieces will be too difficult for absolute beginners (see Easy Solos for Beginning Singers series above).

26 Italian Songs and Arias – available for Medium High or Medium Low voice, with available accompaniment CD.   Great collection of Italian songs for beginning to intermediate singers, and an essential part of the repertoire for young classical singers.

The Lieder Anthology – from the Singer’s Library series, available for High Voice or Low Voice, with accompaniment CD.  Collection of German art songs for intermediate to advanced singers.

French Song Anthology – from the Singer’s Library series, available for High Voice or Low Voice, with accompaniment CD.  Collection of French art songs for intermediate to advanced singers.

FOR YOUNGER STUDENTS

36 Solos for Young Singers – compiled by Joan Frey Boytim.  Accompaniment CD available.  Classical-type songs chosen to be accessible to younger singers, but may be too challenging for my youngest students or absolute beginners.

Contemporary Disney – collection of 50 songs from a variety of Disney movies.  Great for young singers but some songs have vocal ranges that are too large for many young students.

Kids’ Musical Theatre Collection – 29 songs with CD of piano accompaniments.  Good selection of songs from popular musicals that are appropriate for younger singers.  There is also a second volume available with even more songs.

Broadway Presents: Kids’ Musical Theatre Anthology – with CD of piano accompaniments.  Contains some of the same songs as the Kids’ Musical Theatre Collection above, but also has some more challenging pieces from a wide variety of shows and movies.