I came to teaching 20 years ago, in the mid 1990s. My voice teacher & mentor, Anne Perillo contacted me to see if I would consider taking on several students that she & her daughter, Marie Michuda had, who were moving to New York. Anne has since retired, but they taught at DePaul University (my alma mater) & Northwestern University, respectively. Well, long story short, I discovered that I actually had more than a few things to say about vocal technique, rep selection, vocal health and “the business” in general! And more importantly, I discovered that I enjoyed and was passionate about teaching. There was palpable joy in giving someone a correction and having it make a marked difference in their vocal production and their growth as an artist.
I was a vocal performance major at DePaul University with a minor in Theater. I have worked as a professional AEA actor/singer since 1977 and been very blessed to say that I have made a living on the stage here in New York, both On and Off Broadway, touring, and working regionally as well as in stock. My training was largely classical; there weren’t the multitudes of Music Theater programs back then that exist now. I believe that the classical bel canto technique that I was taught is truly the solid foundation of good, healthy singing. It has certainly gotten me through eight shows a week over the past 38 years!
What I feel makes my approach unique is this…everyone IS. Unique, that is. I endeavor to treat everyone as an individual and guide you toward the best, healthiest, most physically and dramatically integrated sound possible. As a teacher, I have learned that one of my biggest jobs is to help people get out of their own way; in a sense, the technical almost becomes secondary at times. By creating a “safe space” in my studio through humor, support and joy, students are able to release tension, breathe and dig down emotionally in order to discover & ultimately, do their best work. The other strength that I bring to the mix is this…I am out there “doing it,” just like you. I know what it’s like to face all of the obstacles that we all face on a daily basis and can intelligently speak to your questions and frustrations in an empathic manner because I have been down most of (if not all) those roads myself.
When I meet with a new student, I treat our first meeting as a consultation. There are a lot of great teachers out there, but if someone doesn’t use imagery that works for you or they give you a weird vibe, I think it’s best to find that out on the front end. So, at a first meeting, we’ll chat…you’ll sing. I want you to bring in something that you feel shows you to your absolute best…something you can sing if you’re sick and have had no sleep; it’s a winner no matter what. And then, I also like to hear something that is a challenge for you; maybe it used to be easy and now it’s giving you trouble. Oftentimes, it will be a piece in another “voice” that you aren’t completely comfortable with yet, be it belting, mixing or head. Then, if we feel we’re a good fit for each other, we’ll set up a future lesson. I start with basic vocaleses, Italian art songs and then move on to musical theater repertoire at whatever pace you set. We all learn how we learn; some people make huge strides quickly; others are a slower start.
My fee structure is as follows:
$100 for a first meeting/consultation (This includes the 1/2 hour with the pianist)
$95 per hour for a lesson with me (This is typically for a beginning student while we are
focusing on basic technique, breathing and vocalizing.)
$130 per hour inclusive of a pianist (This applies to people who are working on
rep for auditions. I teach how I was taught under this circumstance; with my attention
on you, the student. I don’t feel I can make informed adjustments vocally or
dramatically if my attention is divided.)
I do have a 24 hour cancellation policy.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at DivaArvia@aol.com. I am conveniently located on the Upper West Side, two blocks from the 1, 2, 3 & 9 subway line or the M104 bus.