Studio Philosophy

It’s all about style.

I primarily teach in the Italian bel canto style. (Bel canto means “beautiful singing” in Italian). Proper alignment, low, supported breathing, and resonant forward placement are the foundation of good technique and the key to healthy singing. Guiding students to develop healthy singing habits, free of tension or affect, is extremely important to me. My approach to teaching and learning to sing is playful and experimental. (Experimental?! Don’t worry… no lab coats necessary!) Each student and each voice is unique. Each presents its own set of challenges, strengths, and weaknesses. I employ an experimental approach, such as using movement, vocalizations, or visualizations, to help a student achieve specific goals. I tailor my instruction to the individual personality of the student, the natural instrument they have, and their specific needs on that particular day, while keeping in mind the overarching techniques and concepts we’re working on.

Good vocal music… classic.

I value quality literature and select music that is both challenging and age appropriate. My literature selection is varied in tempo, style, time period, and musical difficulty to stretch the singer and develop the ear. I focus on primarily classical repertoire with a secondary emphasis on musical theater. Once a student learns to use their whole voice (connecting and using multiple registers) in a healthy way, it will enable them to sing in many styles. Healthy vocal habits come first! (And Mozart is really fun! I promise!) In addition to singing in multiple styles, students will learn to sing in various languages. Throughout their course of study with me, students will likely sing repertoire in English, Italian, German, and French. Lessons can also be a time for students to work on specific performance projects or pieces that are important to them in the context of our work.

Singing is personal. Find your voice.

One of the challenges of learning to sing is that students’ voices are still developing, growing, and changing. I tell my students that learning to sing is like learning to sail while also trying to build the boat you’re sailing at the same time. It’s not the same as learning to play the piano, which can be a far more reliable instrument than an adolescent or young adult voice! Add variables like health, injuries, emotional well-being, hydration, diet, sleep… it only adds to the challenge!

Because each person’s voice is unique and a part of their body, there is a very personal element to singing. I am sensitive to this aspect and work delicately at times to build confidence and empower the singer. Some of the obstacles in learning to sing freely are mental ones. I make personal connections with each student so that they feel relaxed and comfortable in lessons. It is crucial to teach the whole singer. (You are so much more than your larynx!) Through open communication, patience, good technique, a flexible approach, and a willingness to try new things, all students can be taught to find their truest, freest sound.

Is vocal study right for you?

The majority of my students are mature middle school and high school students or adults with the desire for substantive formal training to develop the skills to sing for a lifetime. Students who want to simply “sing through” songs each week with no stop-and-go will likely not enjoy study with me. Students interested in working on detailed, nuanced music-making will blossom in my studio. To study voice is to study much more than the instrument itself. Singing is an art form that requires acute awareness of the body – not simply the vocal apparatus, but the many other areas that affect it. It requires an understanding of language – not only one’s native language, but the nuances of many others. It requires the ability to interpret text and music, and to express that interpretation to an audience in a deep and meaningful way. A true connection of the intellectual mind, the physical body, and the emotional spirit is the ultimate goal.

 

For information on rates and scheduling lessons, please email me at jessica@kenlanstudio.com or call (207) 370-1220.