Connie Castro Music Studio 

Q & A PAGE
to answer the typical questions about lessons.

Click on the sidebar for specifics regarding
Private Lessons 
Classes  &  Workshops 
Policies and Tuition

719.548.8823
      


WHO IS ACCEPTED?    
Singers, Ages 8 to Adult, at all levels of competency, from 'tone shy' beginners to accomplished performers, desiring to study Contemporary Commercial Music (musical theater, pop, blues, jazz, rock, folk, country, gospel, metal, etc).
 
Connie also loves to support kindred spirits… injured singers who have suffered vocal damage through illness, medical issues or improper singing practices. These individuals can greatly benefit from understanding how their injuries occurred, how to “undo” their unhealthy vocal habits & practices, and most importantly, how to “renew” their beautiful voices through adopting good technique and healthy habits.

HOW DO I BEGIN? 
INITIAL VOCAL ASSESSMENT... 
As it is important to ensure a good match between student and teacher, the first Private Lesson consists of an assessment of current skills and goals as a pre-requisite for enrollment as a voice student. The vocal assessment results and a few basic vocal exercises customized to address the current level and needs of the student are recorded & provided to the student.  If it seems like lessons with me are a good fit & the student desires to proceed with Full-Time or Part-Time Private Lessons, enrollment forms are completed & a lesson slot is assigned.


Upon enrollment, all students are provided with CCMS Studio Policies, Yearly Calendar detailing the lesson schedule, holidays and studio concerts & Swap Sheet to connect with other students regarding swapping lessons if a situation arises & you absolutely cannot attend your scheduled lesson.

 
WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?
Private Lessons, Group Classes and Workshops are offered  year round.  Five options are available for vocal coaching to meet every need and budget.

1. Full-Time Private Lessons  (4 - 45 minute lessons per month, average)...
It is recommended that all singers take at least one year of full-time private lessons for maximum success.  In addition, full-time private lessons are vital for all  serious singers who desire to make singing an ongoing hobby or profession, and all singers with any vocal difficulties.

2. Seriously Full-Time Private Lessons (4 - 60 minute lessons per month, average)
One hour per week of training for serious singers desiring to pursue singing in college and/or as a part time or full time career.
 
3. Part-Time Private Lessons  (2-60 minute lessons per month) ...
Students unable to commit to Full-Time private study have the option of scheduling private lessons on a space-available appointment basis.  Scheduling a lesson every other week is suggested in order to see steady gains, as well as a dedicated home-practice schedule.

4. Periodic Consultations  (45 minute or 60 minute appointments)
Consultation appointments include activities such as:
>Performance or touring preparation
>Audition preparation
>Music selection for a performance
>Developing or learning  harmony parts/arranging
>Keying material for your best sound
>Self-promotion assistance (i.e. creating promo packs)
>Preparation for studio recording sessions

5. Classes
6-week Classes on a variety of topics (1 hr/wk) are scheduled regularly throughout the year.  Group study is a great way to explore lessons, correct basic technique issues, and pick up new tips. Classes are perfect for intermediate singers.  Again, beginning singers, tone-shy singers, singers with vocal difficulties, or singers desiring a full or part-time career in music are always best served by Full-Time Private Lessons. 

Click the Classes & Workshops link on the sidebar for current class offerings, fees and enrollment information.

6. Workshops
The Awaken Your Voice workshop (3 hours) is a perfect gateway for singers and speakers who are experiencing difficulty with their voices and desire to get information on what they can do to resolve their vocal issues.



WHAT WILL I LEARN?
Many teachers specialize in either Vocal Technique Training or Vocal Performance Coaching. Connie believes that both must go hand in hand to produce a well-rounded learning experience. The primary focus is to apply correct technique to every song, then learn how to effectively “tell the story of the song” to thrill your listeners so they want more.
 
A solid foundation in technique and the endurance, flexibility, range & strength it creates over time is critical to good singing. A flawless performance can’t be achieved without solid technical skills beneath it. For younger students, singing songs they enjoy that are suitable for their skill level is an ideal way to teach and apply the basic elements of vocal technique. Vocal Technique instruction teaches a student how to recognize, interpret & adjust their physical sensations while singing to create optimal, healthy sound. These skills take time to develop, but give back hundred-fold, as good technique can be applied to every song or genre a singer wants to try!

WHAT DO PRIVATE LESSONS INCLUDE?
· Vocal Technique Instruction--using developmentally appropriate exercises and activities designed to support the vocalist to develop their technical skills and to then incorporate good technique into every song.
  • “Set Up” (i.e. breathing, support, posture, release of excess tension)
  • Healthy Vocal Care Practices for the singing and speaking voice, including basic instruction regarding the vocal mechanism & vocal fold function
  • The “How To’s” of Singing (i.e. tone production, pitch training, resonance balancing, placement of sound, registers & register blend, ornamentation, vowel production, vibrato & straight tone, vocal coloring, dynamics, range extension)
  • Exploration of Styles, Harmony Production, Belting & Mix for pop, rock & musical theater

· Music Theory-- sight reading and sight singing; harmony production; basic piano skills; preparation for All-State Choir and college-level study (i.e. solfege, scales, triads, intervals), and even Self-Promotion assistance for musicians desiring to gig in their community (i.e. promo packs, networking, the business of music) and assistance to prepare for auditions, recording sessions and more.

 · Ongoing Review-- of key concepts & techniques to reinforce learning & foster student ownership of their developing skills and musical choices. Feedback is vital to growth & ownership.

· Performance Coaching-- to build a repertoire for auditions, studio concerts, gigs, recording and other musical opportunities; Performance Preparation to grab your audience-heart and soul! Dramatic interpretation; basic stagecraft and how to 'sell your song/tell a great musical story’;  strengthening your 'courage muscle'.


WHAT IS PERFORMANCE COACHING?
 is provided in conjunction with technique training. It helps a student
prepare and polish their songs to create a flawless performance. A key element of coaching concerns effectively relaying the ‘heart of the song’ to capture your listeners’ full attention and create an emotional connection through your music. PC also includes:
  • Repertoire selection
  • Arrangements, key selection, rhythms, modulations
  • Phrasing, breath spots, articulation, enunciation, dynamics
  • Memorization tips
  • Interpretation of lyrics/the story
  • Emotional expression through voice & body
  • Stagecraft (i.e. where to look, gestures, stage movement, microphone technique)
  • Most importantly---performance coaching addresses strategies to neutralize anxiety and strengthen your 'courage muscle' to be as authentic and personable as possible on stage so you can shine.
Students are encouraged to participate in selecting music to take ownership of their learning process, and keep interest & enthusiasm strong. Students who sing in school, perform publicly, record etc., are encouraged to bring in their school music, original or cover songs & audition selections to work on them during lessons. All ages and levels participate in regular Stage Training classes, studio concerts &/or Individual mini-concerts to gain skill and confidence on stage.
 

HOW MANY LESSONS WILL I NEED? 
Full-Time students should begin to see notable improvements in your singing voice relatively quickly (within the first 4-12 weeks). The information gained in the first 3 lessons should immediately affect how you approach your singing. However, the length of time that you choose to study depends on a number of factors:
 
Natural level of ability, exposure to music & the severity of unhealthy habits
Everyone begins lessons from their own unique starting point. Some individuals have more natural talent, more family reinforcement and better technique than others. Changing old unhealthy habits is a process, and some have more unhealthy habits to reverse than others. “Undoing” old habits generally takes a minimum of 3 months before a new & healthy pattern can begin to take hold.
 
Rate of learning, dedication & practice schedule… Your dedication to your lessons will affect how quickly you develop. Some students practice daily between lessons and come to lessons well prepared with lots of questions, and they tend to progress at a very steady pace. Others take a more relaxed approach to learning, and thus develop their skills more slowly.
 
Goals If your desire is to feel more confident and sound better singing in church or with family and friends, you may choose to stop after a few months, once you feel more confident and have learned the basics of good technique. If your goal is to become the absolute best singer or pianist that you can possibly be, you will likely be prepared to study for many years and with several instructors. Ongoing lessons are a great investment to make in your career.
~ ~ ~
This list of considerations is not, by any means, exhaustive. 
Each student needs to examine their reasons for desiring to take lessons and evaluate their progress periodically in light of their goals.