This week marked week #1 of our Summer Performance Academy for High School students!!!! We have an amazing roster of singers from NJ and PA joining us for private lessons and many group masterclasses and workshops!
Our singers are beginning their private lessons as we begin to schedule the group events! Stay tuned for our announcement about their performance date!!! It is week one and I'm already looking forward to their final performance because they are so talented!
*It's not too late to sign up (although that window is closing very quickly). If you'd like to sign up for our program, you're able to fully participate with registration through July 5, 2019. After that date, we will close registration to a half summer sign-up.
Summer Performance Academy by numbers (so far):
5 different high schools
1 amazing summer!
Keep checking the Blog for student spotlights!!!!
We are pleased to announce that we have many talented singers enrolled for our Summer Performance Academy! High schools represented include: Ewing High School, The Stuart School of Princeton, Montgomery High School and Steinert High School!
Here's a profile of one of our enrolled students:
Most recent performance: Legally Blonde
Reason for joining Summer Performance Academy: I will be auditioning for my top choice musical theatre program in the Fall and want to be prepared!
Get more performance experience, explore your voice, and refine your skills.
We can't wait to hear everyone sing! Enrollment is still open, but there are only a few spots left.
Register today HERE!
Our Summer Performance Academy will begin in 9 weeks! The countdown is ON!
We are excited to welcome a senior from Ewing High School and a sophomore from Princeton High School to our program! Both have performance experience and have already started taking voice lessons to prepare for the summer session!
What sets us apart from other programs?
We’re offering 8 (hour long) private voice lessons which are specifically tailored to your voice. You’ll participate in an acting workshop where we will explore what it means to act using not only our voices, but through body language and facial expression. During our singing workshop you will perform for each other, offering constructive criticism and inspiration. We will draft resumes, talk about how to mark your music for your pianist, and do mock auditions.
We will have a final showcase performance that will be open to your family and friends! If you’d like to be more confident when auditioning, this workshop is for you!
Sign up HERE
This is a great question, and you deserve to have a great answer. First, you have to find a voice teacher that can tailor their teaching to your specific needs. If you're looking for voice lessons for your young child you probably wouldn't take them to a university professor who specializes in teaching students who are much older. There are significant differences in the voice between young singers and mature voices that need to be taught appropriately. Second, scheduling that fits your needs will be vital to ensure consistent practice. If you want to pick up voice lessons as a hobby after work, you need someone who has flexible scheduling (not a large music school). Many voice teachers adhere to a strict policy, or only teach students of a certain age or ability. Do your research, because they probably specialize in one aspect of the voice because that is what they are interested in and enjoy teaching! You want your voice teacher to be the best at teaching YOU!
In my opinion, the ideal voice teacher is someone with excellent pedagogy skills who also regularly performs professionally. This way, you get the best of both worlds. They are skilled in voice techniques and current practices, yet they are also very much still in the field of practice.
Think of voice lessons like you would a haircut...go with me here, people!
You are requesting a service from a highly trained professional. The cost of the service, the time it takes, the skill level of the professional, and the operating costs all go into setting a price!
In New York City, for example, don't be surprised to pay $120 or more per hour for a voice lesson. When I studied with a teacher in the City, my lessons cost $120. This teacher is affiliated with one of the top universities in the world and regularly performs at The Metropolitan Opera. NYC voice professionals are often some of the best in the field, university professors, and skilled performers. Additionally, the operating cost of a studio and living in NYC easily adds up! In rural North Carolina, however; you could expect to pay less. There are fewer vocal professionals, and the cost of living is much less. When I studied in NC between college and graduate school, my lessons cost $65 per hour. My teacher had her doctorate in music and regularly performed internationally as an opera singer. Currently, I pay $85 to study with a wonderful pedagogue and singer at Westminster Choir College.
There are many perks of the NJ suburbs, and a lower lesson price is one of them! By being close to the City, you still have access to highly trained professionals without the jaw-dropping NYC prices.
At Finely Tuned Voice Lessons, you'll receive lessons from an instructor who sings professionally, has a Masters degree in Music, and has served as an adjunct professor at New York University. I continue to study current topics in voice and keep my skills up to date. I'm bringing a bit of NYC to the 'burbs!
My price structure for new students is as follows:
30 minutes (only for children 12 and under) - $45
45 minutes - $65
Hour lesson - $80
Please remember that taking a voice lesson is like getting your hair cut. You're paying for credentials, the service, and operating costs. Just as you would never expect to NOT pay your stylist at the conclusion of your hair appointment, all music teachers ask that you please always bring payment to your lesson. Along with your music, water bottle, pencil, recording device, etc. :) Happy singing!
Can you believe it's time to make summer plans again? We're SO ready for summer here at Finely Tuned Voice Lessons. We love swimming and hiking at Mercer County Park, picnics at the Princeton Battlefield, eating ice cream at The Bent Spoon in Princeton, taking day trips to the shore and basically anything else summer-related. This summer we are stepping up our lessons for our extremely talented group of high schoolers who are interested in pursuing music/musical theatre in college and beyond. Our summer intensive will equip you with the tools you need to have successful auditions next year. Don't waste your summer...spend your time "off" doing something that will help you reach your goals for next year!
Over the span of 10 weeks, we'll be offering:
We know you may have some questions, so we've fielded some answers below:
If you have any questions, please contact Maria at email@example.com
Sign up HERE (and receive a discounted rate before April 15th)
I LOVE teaching folks in their golden years. Not only do they come in with a tremendous amount of music in their wheelhouse, but they practice, and are so engaged during lessons! I work with several singers who wanted to pick up singing in their retirement and I'm so glad they did because THEY are teaching me so much about the aging voice. "It's a very ancient saying, but a true and honest thought: That if you become a teacher, by your pupils you'll be taught." :)
During lessons, I notice a few distinctions between more mature voices and younger voices. As we age, our singing muscles (laryngeal muscles, respiratory muscles, etc.) tend to become less flexible. One of the biggest complaints from my "seasoned" singers is that they can't sing as high as they used to. So, how do we combat this?
1. Lip trills, v buzz, raspberries! Allowing airflow to inform our singing is important.
2. Strengthening head voice in female singers using descending exercises
Think: "ha ha ha ha" on 8-5-3-1 or straw techniques
3. Monitoring closely the notes above the upper passaggio in male singers
4. Checking to see that they are aware of breath energy *singing uses much more energy than we think*
5. Changing up the exercises now and then to keep people on their toes!
6. The aging voice will fatigue faster, so I encourage short warm-up sessions of about 15 minutes/day for at-home practice
It's my goal to help you sing through all of life's stages. Think you'll be the oldest singer I teach...not a chance!!!
Could you or someone you know benefit from voice lessons? We'd love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ever had the feeling that your voice was compromised during a performance because you were so nervous?
I've definitely been there. You know the feeling...the butterflies, sweaty palms, racing heart...nerves! Over the years, I have developed a little pre-performance routine that helps me cope with my nerves.
I always begin a performance day by warming up first thing. If I have to then (re)warm-up later closer to the performance, I will. I stand in a stance that makes me feel powerful: hands on my hips with feet at shoulder distance apart OR with my arms extended over my head (think star pose). I take a few deep breaths there and envision myself having a successful performance. What would it feel like, how would I feel when finished, etc.
Breathing while my body feels expanded is very liberating. I feel like I can take huge breaths and really release air! The first thing to go when I'm nervous is my breathing technique, so if I can encourage my body to set up space to breathe, I feel better.
Then, I'll go through any part of the song I'm nervous about. Maybe it's a tricky rhythm, entrance, or pattern of notes. I'll check to make sure I'm accurate by playing the notes on the piano or listening to a recording. I never want the performance to be the first time I've sung the tricky part of the song that day!
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that playing with Vinny (my sweet dog) or talking to my husband or family member calms my nerves. Hearing how excited they are for me/hearing their encouraging words always helps!
Also, here's a tip: Always have a little pre-performance snack handy to boost your energy right before. I despise the feeling of singing while hungry, but I also don't like singing if I'm too full. How embarrassing would it be to burp during your song?!?!? Oh dear...
I eat a Nutrigrain or a piece of fruit before concerts to give me an extra sugar kick :)
Then, right before I go on to perform, I tell myself that I'm going to have a great show or another positive affirmation: I can do this, I'm excited to sing, Singing makes me happy, etc.
Be kind to yourself out there, singers!
We hope you've been enjoying the warm-ups from our YouTube Channel: Voice Building Exercises!
Did you get a chance to watch the one on Head Voice Vs. Chest Voice?
Check it out! One of our most frequently asked questions is "What is Head Voice and what is Chest Voice?'
So...what is head voice?
A quick definition: Head voice is the light, high, air flow-driven sound produced when singing.
Another definition: Head voice is the lengthening and stretching of the vocal folds by the cricothyroid (CT) muscle which produces a lighter sound. Some singers describe the feeling of singing in head voice as if the sound comes from their head, thus, head voice.
Ok, great. What is chest voice?
A quick definition: Chest voice is the voice associated with our speaking voice, often lower and more "powerful" sounding.
Another definition: Chest voice is the thickening of the vocal folds by the thyroaretenoid (TA) muscle which produces a sound that can rumble or vibrate in your chest.
Did you know you can mix the two voices for another sound?
This is what we call a mix! Makes sense, right? We use the airflow needed to support head voice mixed with the vocal fold thickening of chest voice. The result is a powerful healthy way to belt!
Want to see if you can create all of these voices? Please fill out an "Enroll Now" form and we will set you up with your first voice lesson! Happy singing, everyone!
Finely Tuned Voice Lessons is pleased to announce the release of online warm-ups on our YouTube channel!* We know that practicing on your own at home can be challenging, so we recorded examples of warm-ups for both male and female voices! We hope you find them to be an excellent complement to your lessons for at-home practice between lessons with live feedback. Your voice is a muscle, so warming it up is so important before you really begin to work it by singing a song. Just as an athlete wouldn't curl 50 pounds before warming up, you should warm-up your voice before putting it through the demands of a song!
Not sure if lessons are for you? Use the warm-ups and find out! Then, when you're ready, sign up for your first lesson for live feedback with Maria! She will guide you through the warm-ups and explain how to do them and why you're singing those specific syllables. By watching these warm-ups, you'll get an idea of how she works and what you'll be working on when you come to the studio. You can also visit our frequently asked questions page if you are still feeling unsure about beginning voice lessons.
Already an accomplished singer? You can use these warm-ups to complement the warm-ups you're already doing in your own practice. If you need a tune-up, please schedule a lesson with us and we will be happy to give you feedback. It's always nice to have another set of ears listen to your work!
For singers who are already taking lessons in our studio, please keep doing your warm-ups at home before you practice the songs we're working on!
If you'd like us to record a video explaining a specific vocal/singing concept, please let us know! We are looking forward to hearing you sing-have fun with the warm-ups! :)
*Use the link above to access our YouTube channel. The playlist "Voice Building Exercises" features many warm-ups for you to use!
I am a firm believer that you don't need a reason to tell someone how much they mean to you...you should just tell them! With that being said, I do enjoy Valentine's Day. The stores are full of sweet treats and sayings, and love is in the air. One of my Valentine's Day traditions with my husband is to cook dinner together! We always have a wonderful music playlist running while we cook and talk and sometimes it turns into spontaneous kitchen dancing! This is always hilarious as neither of us are trained dancers!!! :)
The playlists we've listened to in years past are: Italian Cooking Music Radio (Pandora), Valentine's Songs (Spotify), '90s Country Love Songs (YouTube), Love Songs (Amazon Music).
I look forward to this tradition every year! Does anyone have a suggestion for this year's playlist...something new/funky/different? Let me know in the comments! :)
"The couple that sings together stays together."
Maria Palombo is a Voice Instructor and Singer living in Central NJ. She is the founder of Finely Tuned Voice Lessons, a private voice studio in Mercer County, NJ.