Voice Studio of D'ariel Barnard Teaching Philosophy and Policies
1) Everybody can sing! Singing is simply sustained talking...with lots of practice. So if you can breathe and talk, you can sing. No "two-left feet" or "two left vocal cords" nonsense. I tailor my teaching for every individual, so we will focus on what you need to practice for your goals and your unique instrument. The voice, unlike other fashioned instruments is indeed unique because there are no two voices exactly alike in the world. And remember that babies can cry for hours and hours without getting hoarse or losing their voice...meaning we're born knowing how to sustain sound before we're socialized to repress or block that means of expression. So this teaching can be less about learning something new, and more about rediscovering how we breathe and sound naturally.
2) Nothing should ever hurt! I write this here for two reasons. One, to let you know that nothing I ask you to do with your voice should ever hurt, so you can just relax and try everything at least once! And secondly, because I'm always forgetting to say this at the beginning to new students, oops! So, if you do find yourself with extra tension this is what you can do about it: If anything - throat, tongue, soft-palette, lips, jaw, or even your right pinky toe - starts hurting or gets very tense when you are singing, either in your lesson or at-home practice, then stop immediately. Take a 3-5 minute break, grab some water, chill out and try again. If it keeps happening, don't keep pounding away at it, move on to a different exercise or stop for the day, but don't overstress about it. Not only is your voice unique in the world, it also becomes a different instrument on different days due to weather, health, climate, age, etc. If you feel you have a persistent vocal issue that's getting in the way of your development or performance abilities (such as nodes), then we can discuss further long term care options such as extended vocal rest and modified exercises.
3) Singing is fun!!! Embrace it! Since I approach singing from both a strong technical/musical and strong storytelling (acting) perspective, I will literally ask my students at the end of the day to "throw away technique" and sing for the pure joy and communication of the story.
4) Healthy tips and guidelines: Bring water with you to your lesson. Be aware that sugar, caffeine, certain cold medicines and alcohol dehydrate your body and your vocal cords. Also be aware that just taking a sip of water before opening your mouth to sing may soothe your throat a little, but it really takes an hour or so for any water you drink to actually hydrate the body and the vocal cords. Inhaling steam can do the trick more directly.
5) Recording: I encourage all my students to record their lessons, as it can be a useful tool to practice with at home. This also frees you up to just have the experience of singing while you're in the room with the teacher, learning by feel, and later you can spend time on your own listening or taking notes. Listening to your own voice while in the lesson can be distracting for the student. However, it is important to utilize any lesson recordings as a positive encouraging resource and not as a self-criticized test. If necessary, remind yourself that you are listening to a process, not a finished product. Lastly, do not share or distribute recordings of my teachings without permission.
6) Repertoire: I encourage you to find and bring in (sheet music please! In the key you want to sing in! My ears are super savvy and I'm amazing at responding to you verbally with positive feedback, information, and directions based on your sound, but my hands are way less adept at transposing sheet music on sight) material that you like and to take responsibility for doing so. The NYC Lincoln Center Library and online resources such as IMSLP for classical works are great resources for free music. You can always ask if I happen to have the music in my collection already as well.
"D'ariel is a skilled teacher, she loves what she does, and her joy in singing is infectious. I'm always in a good mood after a lesson, and my ability to sing has grown a lot."
- Isaac Nevas
"D'ariel is an absolute joy to work with. She is a wonderful and knowledgable teacher for any style of singing. My range is expanding and feeling so healthy!"
- Krista De Mille