Rachel Velarde

Rachel Velarde

I began my music career in Bloomington, Indiana. After receiving my B.A. in Music from Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, I earned two Master of Music degrees at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. Luminaries I have worked with include Vernon Hartman, James Caraher, Lorenzo Malfatti, Shirlee Emmons, Mary Sue Hyatt, John Sikora, David Jones, David Britton, and Carol Smith. I offer private, one-on-one weekly or twice-weekly instruction to students of all ages. I am also Adjunct Voice Faculty at Grand Canyon University, and am beginning the pursuit of my DMA at Arizona State University. I accompany my students on piano as much as possible, and I encourage healthy singing, coupled with a working knowledge of the voice. My goal as a teacher is to give my students a “toolbox” for their vocal technique, so that they can work towards a healthy, free and easy production. My students should be able to sing for a lifetime of enjoyment. Singing is, above all, FUN. If you love it, you can learn it.

Why should I exercise and eat a healthy diet?

Health matters.  As a singer, the body IS the instrument. If the muscles are weak, if energy is low, then the voice doesn’t have a chance.

Increasingly, I have found myself telling my students that taking the time to exercise is as important as practice time. In fact, I’ve told them that if they only have 10 minutes a day, they should spend that time working out rather than practicing.

Photoxpress_14457724Take time for cardio.  Work the abs. Even more, work the BACK strength.  Especially in singing, the abs should be strong, but if the back muscles are weak, the abs collapse from lack of resistance.  Strong leg muscles support the torso, creating a balanced body.  A balanced body frees up the abdominal muscles to support the breath.  Strong intercostal and oblique rib muscles, created through twisting exercises, allow for increased control of the descent of the diaphragm.

I have heard many excuses (including from myself): [···]

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I’m going back to grad school tomorrow for the first time in 14 years.  I’m scared.  I’ve applied what I learned last time around throughout the years, but writing a paper? Taking a theory test?  It’s 4 am and I’m writing this.  Need I say more?

This makes me really appreciate my students as they come into the studio for the first time.  Or even the 50th time.  How can I make this experience the most positive possible?  How can I help them to overcome their fears of singing in front of someone who is SUPPOSED to critique them and tell them what they’re doing wrong?

1) Make them laugh: bring some silliness to the lesson, no matter the age of the student [···]

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Support your students:

  • Go to their performances, even if it takes extra time (I recently drove 150 miles round trip for a 30 minute performance – see picture of the band The NevaeH

    The NevaeH Live at the Pima County Fair

    playing live at the Pima County Fair, opening for Anberlin; my student is the lead singer and main songwriter; we spent the next lesson dissecting the performance and finding places he has improved and what he still needs to work on)

  • Always be honest with your students
    • Always be kind to your students
    • Always be encouraging with your students
  • Let your students know your professional opinion of their potential
    • Give them the information THEY need to make progress
    • Help them to understand their expectations and how realistic those expectations may be
    • Help students to understand the true level of professionalism required (if that’s their goal) – then, give them the tools to achieve that goal
  • Stay on task in the studio [···]
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