FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
How many students do you teach during the week? Is this your full time job?
Yes! The arts are my full time job! I generally supplement education with other activities such as music directing, theatrical performance, voice over work, accompaniment and more, but education is my main focus. My work often takes me to universities for adjunct work, or touring around the United States, performing and conducting charity events as well! During the week I work with around 40 students, individually, in private lessons.
What do my lessons pay for?
The primary commodity clients purchase is my time and experience (please see bio and resume for examples). The operating costs of private lessons include, but are not limited to: rental space, heat/ac, internet, piano use, professional advice, recital opportunities, cabaret theater rental, research, accompaniment and/or tracks, recording demo editing, use of my music library, website/student app maintenance, and curriculum options and audition information (additional fees may apply as per your interest). These are the basic operating costs and do not take into account the thousands of dollars and years of experience that have bolstered my own educational preparation, as well as the personal costs of being self-employed. I have dedicated my life to artistry and its pursuit, and it my pleasure and privilege to offer you every opportunity I can, as you achieve your own goals.
Do you offer performance opportunities? How often and when?
Yes! I love recitals, and the accountability they provide students! Performances are never forced, though I do I have three main avenues I encourage all students to participate in. Recitals are generally offered during the Spring at San Dimas Music. We have food, live performance and awards for all students and families who participate! For those students who are more advanced or mature, I offer a Summer Cabaret which includes food and a live, ticketed performance of students and professional colleagues at The Theater Company (invite only). Students are encouraged to sing duets or group numbers with participating professionals. For those students who might shy away from immediate live performance, I also offer recording projects which can be shared with family and friends at a later point. Recording projects are also useful for those students creating demos, or applying online for high caliber performance jobs or out of state college applications.
What type of repertoire will we focus on?
I love a variety! The great thing about lessons is that we can focus on your main interests. Some of the things emphasized in my own education were variety, growth, fun and artistic application. I like to start with material the student is most familiar with. Depending on their individual goals and growth interest, I will strongly recommend music of varying styles and complexity. For those students actively auditioning I will suggest music that is most appropriate for their age, apparent musical strengths, range, perceived acting type and primary artistic challenge. It is standard practice to encourage first time students to purchase a yearly curriculum which may cost around $25 total.
What should I bring?
You! That is the most important part of this equation! For your first lesson, the main thing I need is your enthusiasm, your ideas and any music you may have previously worked on! Eventually, you will want to bring a folder, paper, a recording device and any music or material that I have requested. Often times I will be able to send you sheet music, but occasionally you may be asked to purchase it. If we are working with specific material it is very important that you bring it every week. There is nothing more debilitating than a student who is unable or unwilling to bring their curriculum. It is not advantageous to learning, nor is it a good use of our time. I'm happy to contentedly stare at you for 30-60 minutes, but I would rather not waste your money or your valuable investment.
What happens if I get sick, run into traffic, or have vacation plans?
Make sure to carefully look at your student contract before we start lessons together. 24 hour notice is always required if we are to reschedule a lesson. A lot of sickness has 24 hours to germinate, but sometimes illness unexpectedly crops up! If it's manageable, come on in! If not, no worries! You have paid for your time, and if you need to spend it getting better, that is a wise choice. Because I work with a number of kids, unexpected illness is a common theme and the 24 hour notice policy allows me to conduct a business and financially survive. Generally speaking, unexpected illness does not seem to negatively impact clients more than once a year at most. If you have serious health issues, please talk with me beforehand so we can find a solution we can maintain. Vacations are awesome and if you give me advanced notice, we should be fine! As stated in the student contract, extended vacations or frequent absences would require a lengthier discussion and creative solutions. Any tardiness on your part would result in a shortened lesson time.
When is my monthly payment due?
All clients must pay at their first lesson of the month. This payment should cover the appointments we have made for the month we are in. Please notify me of any specific holidays or upcoming absences we might need to reschedule. Occasionally a month will contain 5 appointment days, please be aware of those exceptions. I always remind my clients regarding their payments for the first of the month, via text. There is a 5 dollar late fee and it is ideal if payment is offered at the start of the lesson. Please do not pay for lessons prior to your first monthly lesson, as it is often difficult for accurate book-keeping. My ultimate goal is for everyone to pay in the same span of time, at their first lesson of the month.
How long will it take me to learn music/acting/piano etc...?
The easiest answer is: it's up to you! The arts take a lifetime to fully understand and appreciate. If we can identify specific goals that you have I can give you a better idea of how much time it might take the average person to grasp those concepts. But ultimately, artistry is a skill that is determined by your own talent and willingness to invest time and energy into your pursuit. Artistry is not something that is tangibly possessed or finitely owned. Hopefully I can help you to achieve your immediate goals and instill a lifelong pursuit of a new level of fulfillment and skill!
How can I get my student/self to practice more?
As a teacher, I try to operate on a spectrum of what I call extrinsic and intrinsic motivators. We can of course, utilize the normal rewards based incentives as per your permission: candy, stickers, awards, performance opportunities etc...But ultimately, like any other academic pursuit, a teacher's main goal is to instill intrinsic motivators: self-awareness, self-confidence, character development, discipline, long term goal application and more. Music homework should be approached like any other academic homework and incorporated into whatever routine currently exists in your home! Since I only have 30-60 minutes a week to instill these concepts in students, it is the job of the student themselves and the parents who may enforce these rules, to follow through. I have more suggestions and reading material on the subject (please inquire).
Can anyone be an artist? #canIreallydothis
Yes! You are already an artist. You exist, and you create. That is art. Western society has a certain perception of what is aesthetically skilled and beautiful, and that is something that all of us in the arts are striving to understand and achieve. Everyone has varying ability, potential, and rates of comprehension. Although many students are not interested in becoming professional musicians, the average person is able to enhance their own artistry and enjoy the fulfillment it provides in their every day life.
I've got some great ideas about repertoire, stylistic approach and performance opportunities! Can you help me?
Absolutely! I always hand out a goals worksheet to fine tune our expectations and ambitions! The more I understand your dreams, the better I can assist your pursuit of them! Please do heed my suggestions when it comes to repertoire selection, performance opportunities, teaching style, and vocal health. I have a wealth of personal knowledge, experience and training that you have hired me to share with you. There is some material that may currently be inadvisable to attempt without more instruction, growth or opportunity. Ultimately I want to 'set you up to win', instill positive vocal health habits, and help you grow into the artist you were meant to be! If I feel that our educational relationship is becoming too strained, then I may suggest other academic opportunities, to avoid steady arguments, complaining or re-scheduling.
Why is this so difficult?
This is a question that adult students find themselves asking constantly. Children are naturally more malleable and able to learn far more quickly than their more mature counterparts :) Please give yourself grace as you may be attempting something completely new for the first time. As adults, we often are accustomed to quickly acclimating to routines or habits we've spent a lifetime learning. New habits, and new ways of thinking are naturally more difficult for us. The arts often incorporate intellectual, emotional, spiritual and kinesthetic learning, which is extremely comprehensive and complex. For kids, self-discipline, self-confidence and communication are usually still in development and are the most challenging factors of new learning environments. It is my pleasure to try to assist you in this fulfilling and challenging pursuit! Please do not under-estimate the time, money and intent required to achieve this difficult goal. However, I can guarantee you will not regret it!
How many shows have you done? Is touring fun? Have you ever been on Broadway?
Yes, touring is amazing and one of the most fulfilling and challenging artistic experiences of my career! As a professional musical theater performer I've probably done about 20 shows in Southern California, and as a music director, probably another 20. My choral experience is too lengthy to list or even remember, and it is the main contributor to everything I've learned about music in general. I have voice over experience with hundreds of projects for EECI over the course of 10 years, and am constantly enjoying small gigs, wedding ceremonies, and student performances that I am proud to be a part of! "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" is considered the official Broadway National Tour, in that it utilizes the Broadway costumes, sets, lighting design, sound design, orchestrations and original creative team, which I am pleased to have performed in nearly 500 times! Other than that, I have not appeared on the "Great White Way", and would welcome the opportunity someday. I love my performing life, and hope you will check out my bio, resume, and media examples for more specific information! It is thanks to the amazing performers and teachers who have been in my life that any of this is possible! Maybe I can be one of those instrumental instructors in your life as well!
How much do I need to practice every week?
You need to practice for the length of time it takes to complete and adequately perform the homework I have assigned. This will be different for every student, according to their age, skill level and immediate goals. For collegiate students, one unit of performance work, generally incurs 5 hours of practice time per week. For younger students, 30 minutes of daily practice time (5 times a week) is strongly encouraged. Practice should be a combination of that which excites, and that which challenges you, and should be different than our actual rehearsal time. Imagine if you were asked to learn the core of mathematical knowledge, but only attempted it for 30 minutes, once a week. I assume even Einstein himself would not be able to progress under such conditions. Please remember that the pursuit of the arts is infinitely more personally challenging and potentially time consuming than even the sciences or math can boast. Please plan accordingly :)
I'm short on time or money! Do you have any other options?
First off, thanks for recognizing your limits! It's difficult if I have a client who has misunderstood their own availability or financial situation. Occasionally I do offer what I call "vocal coachings" to students who are otherwise engaged, on a tight budget, experiencing severe health issues etc...Vocal coaching students are expected to have extreme flexibility and a willingness to work around my schedule. I will often contact them if another student suddenly becomes unavailable. Very rarely, I might offer lessons on a Saturday, and often work with vocal coaching students once a month for an hour at a time. Though not entirely ideal for consistent growth, it is preferable to no instruction whatsoever, and also helpful for professional colleagues interested in perfecting material for an upcoming audition or artistic project. Please contact me if it sounds like this might be your most viable option!
I've been cast in upcoming production! Now what?
That is absolutely wonderful! Hopefully we have been working towards this moment together, and this is a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate! It's also a great opportunity for us to re-evaluate your immediate availability! Because I work with so many performance students, I thoroughly hope and expect them to be cast in upcoming shows and exciting new projects. Please remember that it is unfair to other clients if you hold your space and rehearsals or performances are making it difficult to consistently attend. Hopefully clients can attend all lessons, and are not asking to reschedule more than once a month at most. Otherwise, let's discuss some options for vocal coachings, permanent rescheduling or temporary hiatus (with a month's notice) until such time as we can regularly resume! You and your student are awesome, and I want to celebrate and work with as many of you as possible!
What is your policy on refunds?
This is one of my most clear and necessary policies and should be stated in no unclear terms. Refunds are not available under ANY circumstances (please closely review your student contract). As stated earlier, this is the only way I can maintain a consistent business at the discounted price I am offering you. Please do not ask me to change this policy or overlook individual situations of tardiness or unexpected absence. The only option available to clients is rescheduling, and only with 24 hour notice. Consistent requests for rescheduling may result in further discussions or creative solutions, as it is often a valuable loss of time and money for me and other clients. Rescheduled lessons can be personally attended or conducted online or via phone, and must be attended within one year of their issuance. If this is not possible for you to adhere to, please seek out instruction with a different teacher, and good luck in your continued artistic pursuits!
What is the standard rate for private instruction?
The rate for private instruction should be based on the teacher's education, experience level and comparative availability. Standard lessons offered at artistic studios are often in the $40-60 hourly range. These lessons can be offered by high school, college or professional instructors who are not necessarily required to demonstrate any personal knowledge, experience or degree completion. Studios often take a large percentage of this initial fee to cover their own business costs. Private lessons offered by collegiate professors and artistic professionals are generally in the range of $70-$200 hourly range. These lessons are offered by collegiate instructors with a B.A., B.F.A, Masters or Doctorate level degrees, or business professionals who have demonstrated with their experience that they are superior masters of their craft. Please know that the rate I offer is extremely low for the qualifications that I possess. I am currently more interested in teaching a variety of students, at a lower cost, than working with a limited number of students at the price I could legitimately charge. It is also my pleasure to offer some of the above privileges (recitals, cabarets, piano usage, website/student app, audition information, studio library access etc...) for free.
What additional classes, shows or summer camps do you recommend? Where can I get headshots? How do I find an agent?
There are hundreds of opportunities across Southern California! The three best suggestions I have are to check the Facebook Studio Page, review your Student App, and subscribe to Backstage! Because there are so many auditions and educational opportunities throughout the year, I often post about them on the Studio Homepage and Student App when they are happening! In addition, I can give you information on how to access Backstage in the easiest way possible to find all the best regional, educational and professional performance opportunities possible! I have additional reading material on all these subjects as well! (please inquire)
Do you work with a lot of adults?
I certainly do! Adults usually have the mistaken assumption that lessons are only for children! This couldn't be further from the truth, and should not dissuade adults from pursuing their dreams! One of the best things about private lessons is the ability to tailor our instruction to your own personal needs. At least half of my teaching demographic, often more, is comprised of college age students and older. Music is something that should be available for all walks of life! Jump on in, the water's fine!
Help! My student wants to quit piano or singing! What should I do?
Ultimately, you know your student better than anyone! If there is a serious situation, let's address that, and please give me a month's notice to finish our work together. This also enables me to fill your slot with another student while you take a break! Most kids, and even adults, reach moments of challenge when it's difficult to follow through. You want to make sure that you teach your student the value of self-discipline and delayed gratification! If your student claimed they were no longer interested in pursuing math or education in general, you would be interested in encouraging and working with them to help them discover their own abilities. The arts are no different! The only thing more common than kids claiming they want to stop lessons, is adults telling me they wished they never had.
Can I schedule multiple students simultaneously? Can students sit in on one another's lessons?
That's fantastic! I've worked with as many as 3 students in a family, and adore seeing their personality differences and strengths! I will absolutely do my utmost to schedule them on the same day, and back to back, so families are not traveling multiple times during the week. Unfortunately, it is not permissible for multiple students to attend at the same time. Occasionally I will work duets with students, but it is very important to give soloists their time to shine and focus. Not only does it create unnecessary distraction and unsolicited judgements from lesson observers, but it is primarily an insurance hazard. This should also apply to friends, strangers and other people I don' t know. Music lessons should not double as 'baby sitting' :) Please discuss special situations with me beforehand and look over your parental observation handout, as many of the same concepts apply.
Do you offer gratuitous consultations or free sessions?
I'm happy to speak with you on the phone or via Skype if you are interested in hearing more about lessons! However, because this is a business, free lessons are not a part of the services I offer :) Occasionally, if a student refers another family to me, I will reward their hard work with additional time! But because I am in high demand and my availability is low, free lessons or gratuitous, in-person consultations are not offered at this time.
What's the best way to contact you? How can I stay apprised of my student's progress?
Because parental observation is only allowed under special circumstances (please see student contract and attached parental guidelines), I will make note of your student's weekly goals and progress in their curriculum. Depending on the age of the student, parents are expected to maintain an encouraging and disciplinary attitude, if they want their student to succeed and get their full money's worth! Because I am working with about 40 families a week, communication becomes extremely essential, not just for my own clarity of mind, but also in respect for the other families I am working in conjunction with. My general work hours are 1-8pm and I enjoy having my own free time. For this reason, texting and email are generally good ways to get a hold of me. It is of the utmost importance that you return my communication if we are to maintain a healthy business relationship. If I have to hunt you down, or it is consistently difficult to reach you via text or email, we may need to discontinue lessons, in favor of a client who communicates more readily. If you are interested in having a lengthy discussion with me, please include that in your student's lesson time, or schedule an appointment to speak with me on the phone.
My show is happening this week! Can you hand out advertisements? Do you want to come to my show?
This is an easy question to answer: OF COURSE I WANT TO SEE YOUR SHOW!!!! Are you kidding? We may have been working for weeks, months or years on this dream coming to fruition, and I love to celebrate the progress and accomplishments of my students! If I have time and money I most definitely will! If I have availability and you are able to offer me comp tickets, that makes it even more likely I can be in attendance. Because I (hopefully) have a myriad of students consistently working on projects, my attendance is not always possible, so the more notice you give me, the better. I will very happily hand out advertisement to students and other studios, as well as advertise on the student app, facebook page and other resources! Congratulations! You earned it!
What is the difference between a vocal coach and a vocal technician?
Generally a Vocal Coach works on a short term basis for specific song preparation. These vocal coachings might arise sporadically, and on a need-basis, as auditions, gigs and solos are scheduled. A Vocal Technician is generally hired for long term instruction, and works the foundations of vocal pedagogy and technique! I prefer the latter, as my training is in a classical, Bel Canto style of singing, and I enjoy helping students to learn about the mechanism of their voice. We will utilize a varied and increasingly complex repertoire to work the technical concepts that may be challenging for you! I definitely enjoy working last minute audition preparation, or short term performance work, but it's important we recognize the difference between the two approaches. If you are primarily interested in hiring me as an accompanist, this will not effectively utilize my time as a long term vocal technician. The pursuit of vocal technique must include weekly maintenance through warm ups, a varied repertoire that I select and a comprehensive discussion of vocal health and pedagogical application through performances and recitals. If you are interested in vocal coachings, please let me know at the start of your lessons, and we can easily adjust!
I'm writing a new musical, screenwriting a cinematic drama and planning on starring in a one man show! Let's go!
First of all, let me applaud you on your creativity and ambition! These are wonderful qualities to have! I'm excited to partner with you in helping you achieve your goals! I think my first step in assisting you will be to add a dash of realism to our proceedings :) You may have, what I like to call "Dreamer Syndrome", in which the creative artist in you is reaching for the stars, but you might be having difficulty putting legs to those challenges. In our lessons, its important for us to pinpoint the specific ambitions that you have, and implement techniques and projects to make those dreams as much of a reality as possible. If I notice that your goals are shifting every week, I will gently remind you that the only thing more fulfilling then having a dream is watching it come to fruition! Let's make sure we can see an idea through to completion so we can quickly and easily move on to the next!
Do you offer your professional expertise to former clients or non-paying individuals/entities?
Unfortunately this is not often able to happen :( Because I run a business, it is inadvisable to offer professional expertise without being paid for my time. As I am meeting with 40-50 students a week, and spend a lot of non-lesson time planning curriculum, editing projects and communicating with paying clients, it is inappropriate for me to offer that valuable time to a non-paying demographic. Please contact me so we can set up a vocal coaching session and I can give you my complete, undivided attention. Be aware that my personal information about professional contacts, musicians and auditions is also inaccessible to a non-paying audience, as that is a valuable asset in my business model. Feel free to check out the student app and facebook page for general info., and set up an appointment today!
Do you teach out of your home or out of a professional studio?
Yes! Actually there are several locations that I utilize, and I occasionally teach out of my home! Please remember that this is my place of business, and treat it accordingly. I am not able to watch children after their appointed lesson times, because all of my lessons are back to back. If students treat my possessions without respect or care, I will gently remind them that this is my home and our place of work. Remember traditional courtesies such as knocking on the front door before you enter and giving me a moment to answer, as I may be finishing up with a student. Also, please do not use my restroom for your own personal preparation for an upcoming show.