Shipp Studio of Voice welcomes members aged 6 to adult. For more age-specific information, please visit the Kids, ‘Tweens, Teens, or Adults page. If you are younger than high school age, you must have a parent or guardian in the building at all times during your lessons.
LESSONS & PRACTICE
The skills you will be learning and practicing fall into three categories: technique, musicianship, and repertoire.
Vocal technique refers to the physical processes you use to produce sound: posture, breath management, phonation, resonance, and articulation. You will learn and practice various exercises to build strength, stamina, and flexibility in each of these areas, as well as coordination among them. Good technique is what makes your voice work well consistently. Most people who sing notice that some days, their voice sounds and feels great—soaring high notes and rich low notes, with plenty of breath to support them. Other days, their voice feels heavy and strained—shrill high notes and breathy low notes squeezed out between labored breaths. Daily technical practice will make the “bad voice days” more and more infrequent, and when they do happen, you will know some strategies to manage them.
The ability to sing in tune, feel rhythm, read a score, and learn music independently is essential for performing singers at any level. Your lessons and practice will include musical skills including basic keyboard, sight singing, and ear training. If you struggle in this area, expect to spend most of your time on it in the early part of your training. The difficulty level of your technical exercises and assigned repertoire will be directly related to your level of musicianship.
To prepare you for all possible opportunities in our local singing community and beyond, the songs you learn will be a balanced mix of Contemporary Commercial Music (a blanket term for non-classical music, including but not limited to: musical theatre, pop, rock, hip-hop, jazz, country, folk…) and classical styles. Sheet music and accompaniment will be provided for all assigned music. You are welcome to bring other pieces to work on in addition to your assigned pieces, but you must provide sheet music and accompaniment. Stage presence, storytelling, and appropriate style will be emphasized in addition to technique and musicianship.
The amount of time you spend with me each week is very, very short. Here are some ways to make the most of those fleeting moments:
Bring your lesson materials
Have all practice assignments from your previous lesson completed
Write down your new assignments
Be mentally present
Be well-rested and well-fed
Lesson time is divided more or less evenly between technique, musicianship, and repertoire. First, we will check assignments from the previous lesson, discussing any questions you may have about them and coming up with solutions to any problems you may have encountered. Then, I will give you new assignments for the next time. As you see, my lesson plan for you is based on the assumption that you have completed your practice assignments from the week before. If you do not complete them, there is very little we can do and your lesson may end early.
Just like your lessons, your practice time should include technique, musicianship, and repertoire. You are expected to make consistent, measurable progress in each of those areas.
While you should aim for at least 30 minutes of practice a day, be aware that you may need to put in more time depending on your assignments for the week. For example, a five-page song will probably take longer to memorize than a two-page song. Exactly how long depends on your particular memorization ability. Because the difficulty of assignments vary, it is important to go over them as early in the practice week as possible so you know how much time you need to set aside to complete them.
Many singers find it more helpful to practice in small chunks of time throughout the day rather than one long session, but you must discover for yourself what works for you. At any rate, I highly recommend doing a basic warm-up routine as early in the day as possible. This will get you into a singing mindset and make it easier to practice later in the day.
You will need to have access to a keyboard/piano for your practicing. Inexpensive keyboards can be purchased new at Target, Best Buy, Costco, ect. for $30-$100, while full size models with weighted keys cost around $500-$600 (of course used keyboards can be purchased for much less). Computer or smartphone apps are another inexpensive option, although less convenient for learning music.
Performance opportunities within the studio include Studio Class, Recitals, and Competitions. In addition to these, I urge you to take advantage of every possible opportunity to perform, whether it is in school choir, church, a community musical, karaoke night... The ability to not only sing well, but to sing well in public, requires practice just like anything else.
On the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month, students with prepared (memorized) songs are encouraged to come to the studio and sing for a small audience, which may include other students and their families. These are super-informal gatherings that will give you a safe place to practice singing in public, especially as you prepare for recitals and competitions.
A formal studio recital will be held in the winter, spring, and possibly early fall (depending on summer enrollment). These will allow you to share your progress with friends and family, as well as experience a situation similar to a professional audition, competition, or singing gig.
I am an active member of the Alaska Chapter of NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing), which means my students are eligible to participate in NATS scholarship competitions. Currently, the organization hosts three competitions a year: Musical Theatre (high school to adult), Youth (ages 8 to 14), and Classical (high school to adult). I will distribute applications and rules as they become available. Besides the possibility of winning prizes, participants receive valuable, constructive feedback from the adjudicators.
There is a waiting area with coffee, free Wi-Fi, and workspace where your parents and other guests can do their own projects and listen to your lesson. Guests are also welcome to observe your lesson with your permission.
TUITION & PAYMENT
Current studio rates are $120 per month (30 minutes per week) or $180 per month (45 minutes per week). Payments are due on the last week of the month for the following month.
Weekly 30-minute (kids & ‘tweens) or 45-minute (teens & adults) private lessons
All assigned songs
All assigned exercises
Technology maintenance and upgrades
Recital space rental and program printing
Teacher support at competitions and recitals
Business overhead (insurance, taxes, retirement, etc.)
Tuition does not include:
Competition application fees
Performance necessities (outfits, music photocopies for accompanist, ect.)
General singer’s tools (dictionaries and other reference materials, personal keyboard)
Many months will have four weekly lessons. A few will have five weekly lessons (that happens about four times a year for any given day of the week). Some months will only have three scheduled lessons due to holidays and other pre-planned conflicts. Tuition is the same regardless of these factors. I hope you see from the list above, as well as from the other information in this handbook, that your tuition is paying for so much more than the number of minutes you spend in the studio.
I provide a teaching, recital, and competition schedule right before Labor Day, New Year’s Day, and Memorial Day. You must commit to regular lessons at the same time each week. Makeups and refunds are not available for missed lessons. There is no exception to this policy.
Because we are human beings, at some point you or I will have to miss a lesson due to illness, emergency, or other conflict. On the rare occasion you or I are unable to keep our weekly meeting time, any assignments from the previous week are still due, and I will give you instructions on how to submit them remotely. I will also provide a new assignment to keep you progressing until our next meeting if appropriate.