Welcome to my Studio
The human voice is an amazingly powerful, versatile, complicated instrument.
I strongly believe that we are all capable of discovering and strengthening our voice, and that this journey of discovery (or recovery) in itself is well worth it.
Vocal technique can be learned by all, with the right instruction and adequate practice.
My job is to instruct you in opening up to the possibilities of change and growth.
- Rebecca Castelli
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Where are you located and what times/days do you teach?
I am located in El Cerrito, about 4 blocks north of Central Avenue. I am about a 10 to 15 minute walk from the El Cerrito Plaza BART station.
I teach evenings Monday through Thursday. I also teach on Saturday mornings/afternoons, and all day long on Sunday. This schedule is subject to change, depending on any outside teaching or performing I am doing.
2. What is the price of a lesson? Will I be charged for a missed lesson?
• For current prices contact Rebecca
NOTE: Students who attend weekly get the best rates. I want to encourage my students to attend regularly, as they will make the most progress that way.
You will be charged the full amount for a missed lesson, IF YOU DO NOT GIVE ME 24 HOURS NOTICE. If I have enough advance notice, I may be able to schedule someone in your spot.
3. What is included in a singing lesson?
Each 50 minute session includes:
• Breathing and relaxation techniques
• Music Theory
• Vocal Exercises
• Vocal Coaching on Songs (Including how to "Act a Song")
I begin each session with breathing exercises. In the beginning, this will be more extensive, as you will be learning about your diaphramatic muscles, intercostal muscles, and all the other muscles involved in breathing. As you progress, we will only be "touching in" with those muscles, to make sure they are awake, aware, and activated for singing. As I learn more about what is going on with your individual voice, we may begin a session with jaw relaxation exercises, or a physical warm-up. Each lesson is tailor made for your particular needs and suited to where your voice is at that time.
Depending upon your interest and level of musical knowledge, you have the option of learning how to read music, intervals, and sightsinging. If you opt for music theory to be a part of your lesson, we would begin each lesson with a theory assignment. The assignment would be explained in the lesson, but completed as "homework". (Light homework, trust me!) : )
We will spend about half of your lesson learning vocal exercises. These exercises all have a specific purpose. Examples of exercises include those for releasing the jaw, exercises for releasing the tongue, exercises for activating the soft palate, exercises for bringing focus into the voice, exercises to help your breath flow while singing, etc. The exercises you perform in your lesson will depend upon your voice, experience, and the specific needs of your instrument. Therefore, as you progress, certain exercises may be added or dropped, according to your skill level.
The remaining portion of the lesson - about the last twenty or thirty minutes - we will work on the music that you want to sing. However, that doesn't mean you are done with technique! I don't believe that once a singer has learned the notes of a song, he or she is ready to perform it. You will continue to work on various techniques of freeing the voice, as we work on the song of your choice. Depending upon your level of experience and interest, we may also work on the performance of the song. For advanced student, I offer sessions on "acting a song."
4. How often should I take singing lessons?
If you are a beginner and you can afford it, you should try and take singing lessons once a week. When you are first learning the basics of voice, it is helpful to have an instructor's watchful eye and careful ear. Otherwise, you could be practicing something incorrectly and potentially hurting your voice or acquiring bad habits. If you are an intermediate/advanced singer, I still recommend singing lessons once a week, but with diligent, careful practice, you could get away with once every other week.
5. For how long?
This one is easy! It is completely up to you. If you feel that after ten lessons, you have reached your goals, you can stop taking lessons. If you want to take voice lessons for the rest of your life, constantly furthering your understanding of the voice mechanism and expanding your repertoire of songs, you can do that as well. Most people will be somewhere between those two extremes. I have taken voice steadily for almost fifteen years, and will continue to do so. There is always some new and exciting discovery that comes to me, just when I thought I knew it all! (Disclaimer: I do not know it all.) : )
6. What if I think I am tone deaf?
I think that you're not! I have worked with students who came to me with pitch problems, some of them quite severe. We can work on learning to match pitches, but the most important work will be in learning to relax the tongue, jaw, larynx, and whole body, so that singing becomes easy and effortless. Being "tone deaf" can be overcome, although it requires hard work, patience, determination, and consistent practice on the part of the student. One of my students came to me unable to match any pitches. If I played a low note on the piano, she sang a note much higher. If I played a high note, her voice would sing much lower. Through her hard work and my willingness to improvise and try anything and everything, by the end of a year, she could sing a song with no pitch problems, was beginning to find depth and beauty in her voice, and was actually (finally!) enjoying singing.
7. What kind of singing do you teach?
I teach anatomically correct singing. which means I focus on how things feel rather than how things sound. In my studio, my students work on relaxing and releasing the jaw, tongue, larynx, and any and all other muscles that want to grab or control the singing voice. While they are learning to release all the muscles that "grab" (and cause you to squeak, crack, and have vocal pain), my students are also learning how to use their breath to support the voice. I run a very relaxed, laid-back studio, and encourage my students to come to their singing practice with a feeling of fun and play. I also incorporate physical work into the voice training, because I believe that if there is tension held in the body, it will show up in the voice, and vice versa. The physical work involves easy stretching and light calisthenics as you sing to help loosen up the air flow and reduce any excess and unnecessary tension in the voice.
8. How often should I practice?
As a beginner, I would like you to practice your breathing/relaxation exercises every day, and your vocal exercises every other day. As you gain more freedom in your voice, you can begin to practice more frequently, but I recommend taking at least one day off from singing a week. If you are ever experiencing pain while practicing, STOP! Don't resume again until your voice feels better and you have checked in with me or another singing teacher to figure out what is causing your pain. Remember, practicing incorrectly is not a good use of your time or your voice! We will tape a vocal warm-up for you at the first lesson, and you have the option of taping each lesson, or taping later lessons, as you progress onto more advanced exercises. I will also record the melody for any songs you are working on, and, if possible, the accompaniment. I also give hand-outs of the vocal exercises and breathing exercises, so that you have a visual guide to work with as well.
9. When will I see improvement in my voice?
Most students notice an improvement in their voice by the fourth or fifth lesson. They are starting to utilize their breath as a support for their voice, and they are finding some release in their tongue and jaw. Of course, the students who notice the most improvement are those who practice on a regular basis, and who are willing to try new things. It also helps to bring a spirit of play and exploration into your singing practice. It's not rocket science after all! Have fun!
10. What kind of music will I be singing in my lesson?
I have studied various techniques, as I have had different teachers in various stages of my life. Even though anatomically correct singing worked the best for me, I am perfectly willing to go off the beaten path, to find what works for each student. I don't believe there is a cookie-cutter recipe for how to build a singing voice. Each individual who walks into my studio has different needs, depending on their instrument, musical knowledge, experience, and personality. Therefore, each individual who studies voice with me will have their own unique experience and instruction.
Whatever kind of music you want to sing! Of course,I do have extensive experience in musical theatre, and have an extensive library of musical theatre literature. However, I am open to any music that you want to bring into the lesson. I have worked with several musicians in bands who brought their guitars in and worked on singing their own original music. My main focus is on bringing out YOUR natural singing voice. (If you want to sing like Britney Spears, I'm not the teacher for you!) As you gain freedom in your voice, you also gain versatility. That means that you will be able to sing many different styles, and not be locked into one way of singing.