What should the customer know about your pricing (e.g., discounts, fees)?
The recommended lesson length is one hour, and that cost is $50. Most students prefer to have a professional accompanist during the second half of the lesson, so most pay $65 each week. The easiest payment is through personal checks brought to each lesson. Other arrangements can be made.
The professional accompanist in this case is my wife, Sarah Silvia. She in high demand as an accompanist in King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Kitsap counties, and frequently plays challenging pieces at the State Solo/Ensemble contest, and quite often for the winning students. She also teaches many pianostudents, accompanies choirs, and is a trained singer of her own right. Occasionally, if I am unavailable, she will teach the voice lesson, using her own rates.
What is your typical process for working with a new customer?
At the first lesson, I have a conversation with the new student about their experience and their goals. I always make sure to hear the student sing some so I can hear where they are starting from, and then we jump straight in by talking about breath. We'd work mostly on technique for the first few lessons, making sure to sing some easy pieces along the way to apply the new principles. After a few, we'd have a more balanced 3-part lesson: 1) teaching technique and warm-ups, 2) applying the technique, and 3) working on repertoire (songs). This pattern varies based on the student's needs; for example, if there is an audition coming up.
What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
Often, private teachers have no music degree, or have something else as their main instrument and just try to tack on "voice" so they can make a little more on the side. My degree is a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance and Pedagogy, from the conservatory of Lawrence University in Appleton, WI. "Pedagogy" is the music word for "teaching lessons", and we use the term "Music Education" to describe teaching in a classroom setting. So I have specialized training, just to teach lessons.
More than that, however, I have spent many years earning my living as a full-time musician. I have hundreds of performances and over a decade of teaching to draw from as my experience. It gives me a unique perspective on what it takes to actually make it in the "real" world.
How did you get started doing this type of work?
At the fourth grade Christmas concert, I had the solo "Five Gold Rings!" in our presentation of the 12 Days of Christmas. I actually sang with the correct pitches, and someone insisted that I should be in a choir. I have not stopped singing since.
What types of customers have you worked with?
I have worked with other professionals, have taught university students seeking their degree in performing, high school and a few middle school students who have just started singing, people preparing for a contest or an audition, church and community choir members, people who otherwise don't have an outlet for stepping out of the their comfort zone, etc. I insist that everyone is able to improve in their singing, and I have even taught a *formerly* tone-deaf singer.
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
When looking for a teacher, try to find someone who can push you in a healthy way. Don't be too focused on one song or one style, but find someone who can give you the tools and technique you need to succeed in any style. Consider how the teacher practices what they preach - do they have other students that succeed and/or are themselves doing what you wish to be doing?
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
Be careful about budgeting enough time and money. You will need time outside of the 60 minute weekly lessons to practice in order to make progress. Lessons can get expensive very quickly, and if there isn't enough work between lessons, you risk having the same lesson over and over again, and that is not an efficient use of your money. Singing is a joy, and really great singing can be even greater joy - but it comes with work!