Championed by Oberlin Conservatory and Juilliard School-educated Founder CEO Linda Weise, the Colorado Springs Conservatory attracts and retains the nation’s finest arts educators. We have a deep and abiding respect for our faculty mentors and guest artists/lecturers who share with our students a gift for teaching and a deep passion for the arts.
This month, we’d like to shine our spotlight on Lee Ann Soulvie – Program Mentor in Voice
Lee Ann, thank you for sharing a bit about your journey as a voice instructor and music teacher at both the Colorado Springs Conservatory and in District 11 in Colorado Springs…
Lee Ann, how long have you been a voice mentor at Colorado Springs Conservatory?
I began teaching at the Conservatory a little over a year ago, but have been teaching voice to students pre-k through adults for a very long time! I knew the Conservatory was here and thought to myself several times, “This would be a great place to teach!” Now my schedule allows for it and here I am!
Is there an “ideal” age that a student interested in singing should start voice training?
If a child attends one of the Conservatory’s early childhood classes, they will already be singing songs and learning music. Being exposed to music from birth, or even before, is beneficial to a child.
As for formal training, if the student has the desire to sing, then by all means, they can be in lessons. I have had students as young as six, but it really depends on each child and if they are wanting to learn. Singing is a natural and fun way for kids to express creativity, build confidence, develop social skills, read, comprehend language usage and much more. Formal training will not hurt a child’s voice, as some believe. Singing is an extension of speech. If learned correctly and the voice is not overused, it can be a positive experience for the student.
At what age did you become interested in singing, and what steps did you take in order to become a voice coach?
My parents are both musicians, and music was in my blood from birth. My mother was a piano teacher and singer for decades. My father sang, played the trumpet and directed our church choir throughout my life. I began performing at a very early age with ballet, tap, jazz and gymnastics. Whatever song we danced to, I was singing the lyrics to it, acting out a character, or sticking my face into the record player and singing along with the music. I hardly knew life without exposure to music and the performing arts. It was a natural progression for me to pursue my career in this field.
In college, I began as a voice major, then changed it to Musical Theatre because I wanted to continue with the dance and theatre that I loved so dearly. I ended up with my BFA in Musical Theatre, a minor in music and a couple of classes shy of a dance minor. From there, I decided to continue with my Masters of Music in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy. It wasn’t just my studies in college that prepared me, but literally a lifetime of studying, singing, dancing and performing with some amazing teachers, camps and influential opportunities that prepared me for the future.
You are also a music teacher in District 11 in Colorado Springs. What are some of your favorite aspects of teaching music, both in a public school setting and at CSC?
I truly have the whole spectrum of students in every demographic and age. I love it! Now that I am teaching in a Title 1 school, I have been able to connect a few of the students at my school to the Conservatory! I can find those kids who have a passion at a very early age and get them started at CSC. Most of these students do not have the means to study or take classes/lessons, and it’s an incredible opportunity to witness what Colorado Springs Conservatory can offer. I feel blessed to help bridge that gap between the two entities.
Do you have a favorite genre of music to sing?
I began singing in church, so sacred music was my first love. From there, I sang in many choirs, ensembles and solo work where I enjoyed everything from classical literature, musical theatre, jazz, folk, opera, gospel and more. I adore directing and singing choral or ensemble music, and there is just something special about combined voices. The harmonies and connections with other musicians connect souls in a very special way. I don’t think I can pick just one genre, but when there is a beautiful melody… that’s my favorite!
What are some of the greatest delights when teaching students how to sing/watching them perform?
Ah, that truly is one of my life’s greatest joys! The confidence I see increases exponentially in a student – learning they got the lead part in a musical, performing somewhere, making All-State Choir, receiving a college music scholarship, and even one of my past students who earned her Doctorate degree in music. Those are the milestones in a person’s life that I get to watch and celebrate! I have such a passion for teaching, and being able to take that musical journey with a student – watching them grow in their vocal technique, repertoire and personality – is a treasure!
Why do you think music and performance education is important?
I could go on and on as to why the Arts, and music, in particular, are so important. Studies have shown numerous ways that music plays a vital role in a child’s emotional, social, cognitive and educational development. I see it every day, how music supports learning every subject in school and the confidence it builds in a student. Music makes such a positive difference in kids’ lives!
What advice would you give parents who are “on the fence” about sending their child to Colorado Springs Conservatory?
Because the Conservatory has classes for ALL ages, beginning with babies, I wouldn’t hesitate at all! Had there been a Conservatory in my hometown, I am certain my parents would have placed me there. I’m not sure our students realize the treasure we have here in Colorado Springs. The opportunities that are available are just not present in every community.
What are your favorite things to do/places to visit in and around Colorado Springs?
If I’m with friends or my daughter, I enjoy most anything, as I love to be around people! I’ve recently been getting back to seeing live performances which has been great! I really like working in my yard so that I can enjoy my home outdoors in the summer. I also like to dance, hike, walk, and watch the sunsets here, as they are amazing! I love DIY projects around the home as well and care for my three dogs, Molly, Apollo and Izzie. (15yrs., 9yrs., and 4yrs.) They keep me busy!
What does Lee Ann’s road trip playlist sound like?
If it’s a long trip and I’m driving, 80’s music or musicals! I can sing along and stay awake!