FAQ

Studio

How do I sign up for lessons?

You can send Valerie an email, call or text or contact her through social media, all of which you can find on Contact page. You can also sign up for lessons on the Resources & Policies page. Just look for the form on the right sidebar.

How do I access the Student Portal?

When you join Vocal Splendor Studios, you will be given log in information to access your own page, where you can see your lesson schedule, track payments, repertoire, practice logs and more. The Student Portal log in is located at the top right of the Resources & Policies page. Send Valerie an email if you forgot or lost your log in information.

What days & times are lessons available?

Lessons are held on Tuesdays - Thursdays, 10-7 and Friday & Saturday, 9-5.

What vacation days are recognized?

The studio is closed on Sundays and Mondays unless teacher scheduling conflicts require makeups. Other holidays include July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Day, New Year's Eve and Day with limited teaching days between Christmas and New Year.

 

Voice

 

Do you only teach classical technique and/or can I learn to sing rock/pop, etc?

Everyone can learn how to sing the music they love even better with more power, strength, range, control and consistency. Although all good singing has a common technical foundation, each style or genre has unique musical and stylistic elements that can be learned. The students in Vocal Splendor Studios are quite diverse and their interests and performances include: rock, techno, pop, R&B, hip hop, metal, country, Indian, folk, classical, opera, musical theater, bluegrass, church music and more.

What level do you teach? Do you teach beginners?

Valerie works with students of all levels from beginners to professionals. She especially enjoys teaching adult beginners. It's never too late to learn to sing.

What age is good for children to start taking lessons? I've heard that if a young student starts lessons too early, they can hurt their voice.

Thankfully, the old fashioned idea that children shouldn't take voice lessons is beginning to fade. (See the American Academy of Teachers of Singing position paper on the subject here.)

Valerie will accept students as young as 9 or 10 if the child is talented and self motivated. Voice lessons are fine for children as long as teachers choose age appropriate songs to sing with a focus on building vocal technique & vocal health. Children can learn good vocal habits early on before bad habits become set. As long as young voices aren't pushed to sing too big and/or mature too soon., there is plenty of age appropriate music to work on.

Do I need to commit to long term lessons or can I just schedule lesson on appointment? I'm already a working singer and I just want some extra coaching for my show/audition/recording.

Working singers are usually very clear about what they need as far as needs and time. Lessons can be scheduled individually and/or in short term packages. Valerie enjoys helping working singers and professionals grow their skill set. She is always respectful of their musical choices and values, only seeking to assist everyone to sing their music with more consistency, strength, power, integrity and passion!

How long does it take before I can hear a change in my singing?

Sometimes singers hear and feel a difference in the very first lesson! But every singer is unique as we all come to singing with different goals, training and life experience. Most working classical singers have taken lessons for more than a decade while others do well with choir class and occasional coaching.  6 months is a good goal post for determining how your voice is progressing.

What should I bring to my voice lessons?

Bring the music you are working on, including books, lyrics and/or lead sheets, your guitar if you play and sing (or you can use my guitar if you prefer) and a recording unit. I suggest using your smartphone or another recording device to record your lessons. You get much more value from your lessons by listening to your recordings. You will hear things that you did not catch during the lessons, it will help you learn the exercises and you can really hear the effects of your training. This enhances your learning by a higher degree and you will progress more quickly.

How should I practice at home? How long and how often?

Beginning students should plan for more short practices than long ones.  Because we are working on  recognizing and replacing bad habits with more effective habits, the focus at this stage is more on awareness. 10 or 15 minutes a day or  every other day will make a difference. Being aware of your posture, breathing, alignment, phrasing and relaxation whenever you sing, is key.  So if you sing regularly at school, church, at home and/or choir, you will be able to progress naturally. Besides awareness when singing, dedicated practice on vocal exercises will bring more progress. Intermediate and advanced students working on music will need to spend time working on  notes, diction, and languages with more practice at home so we can use our lesson time most effectively.

 

Piano

 

What is the best age for children to take piano lessons?

Research has shown that the earlier children begin piano lessons, the greater opportunity for them to gain the brain balancing benefits, which definitely helps formal school studies.  4-6 seems to be the magic window to get young children started just as they're starting school. However, any time a child is interested and motivated to learn piano is "the right time".

Do we need to have a piano or does a keyboard work?

Piano lessons only work well if the student has regular access to a piano for practicing.  Keyboards can work if they have weighted keys and a foot pedal although they are less than ideal. Practicing a on a keyboard without weighted keys will create challenges later when playing a real piano because students will become accustomed to the easier feel of the keyboard. If a non-weighted keyboard is your only access, then it's important to find some time each week to practice on a real piano for this reason.  Pianos can be rented if you're not sure of making a commitment to purchasing a real piano.  Additionally, great deals on used pianos can be found on Craiglist.

I'm an adult who has always wanted to play piano.  Is it too late for me?

Not at all! Not only is it never too late to learn an instrument but the benefits of music extend throughout your life. Research has shown that active musicians are mentally and emotionally healthier than their non musical peers. Music is perfect for stress release, creativity and brain health at any age.

Where is the best location for the piano?

When finding the best room for the piano, we need to consider two factors: best location for piano health and best location for focused practice.  Real pianos are sensitive to temperature variations and humidity so it's best to place a piano against an inside wall where it is ideally protected from drafts and doors to the outside.  For piano students, having a secure practice space will lead to more practicing.  Often pianos are placed in common rooms and thoroughfares which can cause some students to feel self conscious when learning to coordinate all the aspects of piano playing. Finding a private-ish space for the piano will facilitate a more comfortable work (practice) environment.

How much should my student practice?

Practice time and length is dependent on the age and level of the student. For the younger students (4-6), shorter practices of 15-20 minutes daily (5 days/week) is ideal.  Older students and those more advanced can practice 30 minutes or more. With the piano, the more you practice, the faster you will learn the coordination needed to play better.

Piano Practice Tips:

  1. When practicing a new song, always check and make sure you are using the correct fingering.  The correct fingering is very important for building coordination of the hands and leads to greater facility.
  2. If you are having difficulty with a passage or phrase, count it out verbally first before playing it on the piano. Once you are clear on they rhythm, its usually easier to coordinate your hands.
  3. If you are having difficulty with a new song, practice each hand separately before putting them together.
  4. Start songs slowly and once you coordinate your hands and fingering, you can speed up to full tempo. Use a metronome to keep you on the beat. You can download several as an app if you have a smartphone. There are also free metronomes online here, here and here.

 

"It's never too late to be what you could have been."--George Elliot