Exploring Online Lessons

Oh, the weather outside is frightful –
But the fire is so delightful –
And since we’ve no place to go –
Let’s do an online voice lesson! (With apologies to Sammy Cahn)

****

Yesterday, the college where I teach opened two hours late. And then 4 hours late. At which point I said, “I’ll bet you they’re going to close early. And no one is going to come in during the time they are open…. do I really want to drive in for maybe one student?” The answer was no. So I elected to cancel people; and within minutes, people who hadn’t read my email — what is with kids and not reading emails? — were cancelling. And mid-afternoon, I received the text message I expected to get: The school was closing at 5, which would’ve sent me back home in a driving sleet at rush hour. This would’ve made me cranky.

So today, I elected not to go in either. It was icy in the morning, and projected to rain all day with temperatures just hovering above freezing. And I had students to teach at home. One of whom asked for a Skype lesson.

And I gave her a Skype lesson, and it wasn’t perfect – I still have some technical challenges ahead of me, and I’m going to explore Zoom as a platform – but man, was it valuable.

I couldn’t play for her while she was singing. There’s a delay. Not a big deal for vocalises, but more of a snafu for repertoire. And the sound is still a work in progress. But because I wasn’t playing, I was watching. And I was seeing things that I can’t see while I’m playing because, well, I’m busy playing. I can’t see that your mouth position isn’t the same on your /oʊ/ vowel as it is on /aʊ/.* It was invaluable.

Until I get a handle on the platform, I’m not going to start making online lessons a regular part of my services. BUT – if you can’t make your lesson one week because your ride has fallen through, we can do a lesson online. And who knows what we’ll see. Hopefully it will be something we can address when you are standing in front of me. And maybe we need to bring in a pianist from time to time to play while I watch. Or maybe I need to do more with Appcompanist (once you know your pieces cold) so that I can just sit back and really look at you.

We need not cancel – we have so many options available to us now!

*International Phonetic Alphabet – coming to a studio page Facebook Live near you this summer.

Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

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