Connie Castro Voice Studio



Coaching for Singers

      
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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 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 CCVS Studio Policies. The Yearly Calendar detailing the lesson schedule, holidays and studio Open Mic Nights is available on this website.

WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?

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. (There are typically 4 lessons per month, and occasionally 3 or 5 lessons, depending upon the number of weeks, holidays and studio closures.)

2. Part-Time Private Lessons  (2-60 minute lessons per month, every other week)
Students unable to commit to Full-Time private study have the option of scheduling Part Time lessons on a space-available basis every other week (or when I have cancellations). This option does require more dedication to independent practice in order to see steady gains. Singers who already perform on a regular basis or who are ready to move from Full-Time to Part-Time are the best fit for this option. Beginners are not accepted on a part-time basis.
 
4. Periodic Consultations  (45-60 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

SINGING LESSON ACTIVITIES 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'. 



All students are encouraged to participate in regular  

STUDIO OPEN MIC NIGHTS 

to gain confidence in sharing your music on a 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.
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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.

Policies for Singing Lessons

Commitment:
For a successful experience, a minimum of a 6 month commitment is suggested.  This allows the student to un-do habits that have been getting in the way of freedom and flow, and to develop understanding and consistency with new techniques and choices. 

Practice:  "Showing up is everything!"
Create a routine by setting aside a specific time & place to practice.20-60 minutes every other day is great.    If your week is hectic and practice is missed, attend your next lesson to get back on track!  Discuss difficulties with me right away so we can find solutions for you. Remember, even 10 minutes of 'deep practice' can create positive results.                                      

Stopping Lessons:
Students are required to provide 2 WEEKS NOTICE of intent to stop lessons.  Lessons terminated prior to the end of the month cannot be refunded.


ABSENCES:  48 Hour Cancellation Policy

No financial credit is given for any missed lessons.  When 48 hours notice is given, because you absolutely must miss a lesson, I will reschedule the lesson at a mutually convenient time.
Lessons cancelled with less than 48 hours notice will not be rescheduled, credited or refunded.  No exceptions.
I will just plan to see you at your next scheduled lesson. Therefore, please make your lessons a priority in your schedule  to avoid losing a lesson you have paid for. And remember, you can always gift your lesson to a family member or friend to come in your place.

Extended Absences (3 weeks+)- When a Full-Time student must be absent for 3 weeks or more, 1/2 month's tuition (2 lessons) is due PRIOR TO YOUR ABSENCE as a 'Good Faith' gesture regarding your intent to return, if you want me to hold your regular weekly lesson slot for you.  
This tuition is held on account for you, and then credited towards your tuition when you return.    If the student does not return, this Good Faith deposit is not refundable.

Note on School Plays:  It is a generally accepted practice that high school students may be excused from play practice for private music lessons until the 2 weeks before the performance, when no absences are allowed.  Be sure to work this out with your school teacher at the onset of rehearsals. i am happy to sign proof of lesson documentation for you as needed by your school.

Snow Days/School Closures.  Many times, a winter ‘storm’ clears by noon & lessons can proceed as scheduled in the afternoons.  However, when travel restrictions are recommended, I will telephone each student by late-morning to discuss 2 options:  do a Zoom lesson or proceed as scheduled with the in-person lesson. No credit or refunds for snow days.

Location:
My studio is located near downtown Colorado Springs.   

Parking & Waiting Area:
Please drive slowly in the neighborhood as many children are present.  Park on the street in front of the house or in the driveway and be sure to avoid blocking any neighboring driveways.  An area is available for parents who desire to wait during their child's lesson. (Parents are always welcome to observe lessons.)

Tuition:  Email or call Connie for information on tuition (see sidebar above)