Studio Policy

I am singer, director, and voice teacher who teaches and performs across Iowa. I have been teaching voice for over 10 years to students of all ages and abilities. I also teach voice Kirkwood Community College. I love working on a variety of repertoire with my students including opera, art song, musical theatre, and pop. My students have appeared in productions with City Circle Acting Company, Young Foot lighters, Nolte Academy, and have also won awards at the National Association of Teachers of Singing Competitions. My training includes extensive study of vocal anatomy, technique, style, foreign languages, acting, and style across a variety of musical genres. I hold a Doctorate in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Iowa and I am a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). My motto is “Building Confidence One Note at a Time,” because I believe everyone can and should sing! It takes a lot of courage to perform for others and I love being a part of the process! I look forward to working with you 😊.

Studio Policy
Updated Summer, 2019

2019-2020 Fall and Spring Tuition Rates

Contact Dr. Saunders for rates in your area

Monthly tuition installments represent the averaged-out rate across the semester and is the same regardless of late arrivals, assembly schedules, school holidays, etc.

Lessons will not be held over the week of Spring Break.

In the event of a returned check, you will be responsible for any bank fees incurred, and a $10 fee from the studio. As with absentees, those who are consistently late with their payments will be asked to terminate their lesson contract. Payments may be made via cash, check, bank transfer, or Paypal as a friends and family payment. (If you do not send the payment as a friends and family payment, I will add a $3.50 charge to next month’s tuition to cover the administrative costs that Paypal charges). I will also send an invoice out if I have not received a payment after the first lesson of the month. (If for any reason you are having financial difficulties, or have a reason why you cannot pay on time, please contact me and we can set up a payment plan.)

While I try to keep extra costs to a minimum; new students will still need to purchase music books. I use YouTube and other online media sources to help keep costs low, but there may be some cases where music will need to be purchased throughout the year (Plan on at least one song book or theory book every 4 to 6 months). Other costs may include a recital pianist, accompaniment tracks, competition fees, ect….

Studio Commitment: Studio commitment is for one semester or summer session at a time. Singing, like learning a musical instrument or a sport, is a skill that takes time, commitment, and diligent practice over many months to develop. Please understand that I am a working musician and I plan my work life around you/your student’s scheduled lesson. It is very difficult for me to fill lesson spots if students drop mid-semester. I require one month’s notice (by the 5th of the month) should you decide to suspend lessons (therefore if you wanted to end lessons in December, I would need to know by November 5th). Students who wish to withdraw from lessons before the end of the semester will be charged a $30 early withdrawal fee. Once an initial lesson time is determined I will always plan on seeing a student at that time unless I have been notified otherwise. I will not send reminder e-mails or check in if a student does not show up on time. Please set phone reminders for yourself if you tend to forget. Students who are consistently absent, particularly if their absences are often unexcused, may be asked to terminate their lesson contract. This will be handled on a case-by-case basis, of course. I reserve the right to terminate any contract, at any time, if the associated student is not upholding the policies set forth in this document. There is really no reason for miscommunication in terms of absences, you should have all my contact information and I check my phone/e-mail very often throughout the day, and I will return messages within a timely manner. Another way to ensure you do not miss any updates is to join the Saunders Vocal Studios Facebook page!

 

Make up lesson policy: In the last few years, I have come to realize that the number of makeup lesson I have been giving has added such a huge stress to my life that I haven’t been able to give students the energy that they deserve in their lesson time. I will now be offering some reasonable alternatives if you cannot make your lesson (like lesson swaps or Facetime/Skype lessons), but moving to a no makeups policy will allow me to give every child the energy and instruction they deserve since I will be now able to spend appropriate time planning lessons instead of making up lessons. Please be assured that your tuition is always working for you/your child as I spend a great deal of time outside of lessons choosing repertoire, planning, strategizing, attending competitions, etc. So, even if you have to miss a lesson and cannot use the alternatives offered, you don’t have to worry about receiving less for your tuition. You’ll be receiving more energy, enthusiasm and a more successful lesson each week since I will have the appropriate time to give.

 

Missed Lessons: Because specific times are set aside for specific students, a student who does not attend a lesson will simply miss the benefit of that lesson. I will then use that time or other times to plan for the student’s progress, locate materials, etc. Please be assured that your tuition pays for far more than the time spent with your child (see “Where Does My Tuition Go?”). There are no refunds, discounts or makeups given unless I am unable to teach the promised number of lessons. Illness: Students who are ill should not come to lessons. The extra performance class offered can be considered make-ups for absences due to illness. I reserve the right to send a student home if they arrive sick. If students are only mildly ill, please email and we will do a phone/Skype lesson. Skype/Facetime/Google Hangouts: Skype, Facetime, the telephone, and Google Hangouts are becoming a very useful tool for teaching students who cannot make it to lesson due to illness, weather, etc. If you have a computer with a camera close to your piano or a laptop that you can move close to the piano, please create a free Skype account and add my name to your contacts (or add my phone to your Facetime). This will allow me to call you and have a lesson with you over the internet if need be.

 

Performances: As a performing musician I may have performance opportunities pop up throughout the year. In these cases I will offer a make up time, or will refund tuition for my missed lesson to the next month’s tuition. (Students with lesson times after 6pm, I may need to reschedule more lessons due to rehearsals.)

 

Weather: In the case of cancellation due to weather, Skype/Facetime lessons may be an option, or a group seminar class will be offered. If West Music is closed due to inclement weather, lessons will be rescheduled in the form of a group seminar class. (I will also offer Skype lessons to those who would like to utilize that option.) NOTICE: WEST MUSIC DOES NOT FOLLOW THE SCHOOL CLOSING SCHEDULE. This means just because school is cancelled, does not mean West Music, and therefore your lessons are also cancelled. Please check your e-mails and Saunders Vocal Studios on Facebook for store closings. Often the weather/roads have been cleared by the time lessons would begin. If you are uncomfortable driving to lessons then you have the option of a skype lesson.

 

Swap Lessons: In addition, families of private students may trade their lesson time with another student to help avoid absences. Use these rules to make sure swaps go smoothly. • I must be informed prior to and after arranging a swap.

• No make-up lessons will be given if any confusion from this arises. • Should 2 people arrive at once, I will teach the one whose lesson is normally at that time.

• Please inform me if you do not wish to have your name included on the swap list. Phone or “Skype” lessons during the student’s regular lesson time are also an option for those that are mildly sick or for inclement weather.

 

Communication: I will send information and announcements to students and parents via email so please check your email regularly. Please contact me with any questions via email: jess.saunders7@gmail.com or via phone. You should also like and follow Saunders Vocal Studios on Facebook, as I will post information about community theater auditions and studio announcements on that page as well. I will do my best to get back to requests within 48 hours.

 

Preparation and Practice: It is imperative that students come to lessons each week prepared and ready to sing and learn! Students are responsible for obtaining all assigned material - typically 1-2 repertoire books per year and one theory or vocalize book per year. (It is just as important that students BRING THEIR MUSIC TO LESSONS!!! If students do not have their music at their lesson we cannot make markings in their music, and I will also assume that they have been not using their music to practice.)

• Beginning students: 30 min/day, 5-6 days/week

• Intermediate students: 45 min/day, 5-6 days/week

• Advanced students: 60 min/day, 5-6 days/week

• Always take one day off/week to rest your voice.

• The first 10 min of your practice session should be vocal warm ups and technique exercises. Spend about 5 minutes on theory or sight-singing. Spend the remaining time on your repertoire. This includes: speaking your text, listening to recordings of your song, singing the notes on solfege or a neutral syllable such as “la la,” speaking the rhythm on “ta,” speaking the text in rhythm, and *finally* singing it all together!

 

Parent’s Role in Practice: Parents need to be a part of the practice routine. Most students do not do their homework on their own, and the same is true with practicing, rather, it is a skill that must be learned and fostered by the parents at home. I only see the singers once a week, so by creating a time to practice the parents’ help instill good discipline tactics that will last a lifetime!

 

Materials:

• 3-ring binder with all vocal exercise handouts and music

• Notebook to write down assignments or paper in your 3-ring binder to write down assignments

• Theory and sight-singing workbooks/Music/Song Books

• Pencil

• Laptop/cellphone/recording device to record vocal exercises, your song, etc.

• Water bottle (if desired -- I recommend this).

 

Repertoire: This will vary from student to student. I will not try to make all of my student’s sound like opera singers (unless that is what you want!), but I do teach a classical style of singing. This means that you will be assigned a good amount of classical art song, folk song, and musical theater pieces for study. However, I am very open to working on other pieces in conjunction with our classical assignments (musical theater, pop, etc.). If you’d like to incorporate these styles into our studies, or if you have any special performances you need to prepare for do not hesitate let me know.

 

Lesson Guests: In general, I prefer that you not bring guests to your lesson, as an observer can sometimes change our “learning rhythm.” In some cases, however, hosting a guest can be very beneficial (if the visitor is a prospective voice major, for example), and I am happy to have observers in such situations. I would just ask that you check with me before inviting them. Parents, of course, are welcome to observe their student’s lessons on occasion – please contact me to let me know when you would like to sit in on a session, but know that studio space is cramped and recital participation is encouraged so that students may show off their skills. If you have any questions about lessons, feel free to contact me at any time. ANY RECORDING OF LESSON BY SOMEONE OTHER THAN THE STUDENT, MUST BE APPROVED OF BY STUDENT AND DR. SAUNDERS. (Remember lessons are a time to try to things and be vulnerable, if students are worried about being recorded, they can not fully explore their abilities.)

 

Food/beverages: I recommend that all students bring a bottle of room-temperature water. Hot tea is permitted if brought in a spill-proof container. Other drinks, food, or gum are not permitted in the studio. Performances: Once or twice a year, the students of the studio will come together to present a recital. While performance in the recital is optional (but very much encouraged!) Attendance at the recital is always desired. Dates will be provided in advance. Performing is how students show off what they have learned.

Performances: Once or twice a year, the students of the studio will come together to present a recital. While performance in the recital is optional (but very much encouraged!) Attendance at the recital is always desired. Dates will be provided in advance. Performing is how students show off what they have learned and

 

EVER WONDER WHERE YOUR TUITION DOLLARS GO?

Time spent with student in lessons
Time spent planning for student lessons
Books of sheet music
Recital planning, programs, refreshments
Time spent at rehearsals and recitals
Sales, self-employment tax
Health Insurance
Social Media Upkeep
Technology updates
Studio Rent
Website maintenance and fees
Teacher experience: 10+ years of experience teaching students in grades K-12, college-level, & adult learners
Teacher Formal Education: I hold a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Voice Performance and Pedagogy
Office Supplies

Email/administrative time

 

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