Thursday, August 12, 2010

KCVI

It has been a while since I last updated everyone, and a lot has been going on. I was the administrative director of the Summer Choral Institute in June. I have been a part of it for ten years now, and this was the first year I was able to be the admin, and it was so much fun. It was a lot of organizing, but the staff members were amazing, Drs. Yu and Oppenheim are incredible, and the students we invited had an unforgettable experience, and that is what mattered the most to me.

I have since moved to Kansas City. I will be starting my Doctorate at UMKC next week and will begin the fall audition season again. Only this year, I won't have to bother auditioning for schools - it's a lot of paperwork. I miss Manhattan and the people there, but I have many friends in KC that I am excited to see as well.

Last Winter break, I realized that by the time summer came around, I would be out of a job and freaking out - because I am a workaholic. Since I wouldn't have an office job at UMKC, my wife got a full time job, and my scholarship was very generous I decided that I could finally build up a private studio. This would help me with teaching skills, give me some extra money, and fill up some unwanted free time (my worst nightmare).

So, I decided to find people using the internet and offer a pretty cheap price compared to a lot of the KC studios. Well, my studio grew very quickly and there were still people wanting lessons. So, I decided I could offer to find students for other studios for a small price and send them off to other teachers. I just don't have the time to teach so many people. I then launched a website www.kcvocalinstitute.com (Kansas City Vocal Institute). If you visit today, you will see that we are looking for students to fill voice studios and there are diction, composing, and theory tutors as well. It is going very well, there are 17 teachers involved currently!

Along the way, I was looking into grants for myself to help pay for travel expenses for my auditions, when I started getting requests from musicians to offer more than just voice lessons and music tutoring. They were asking to help them find students for various music classes, science classes for children, performance coaches, and even teach Italian language classes. I thought that perhaps some of these were getting a little too far away from a "vocal institute". But, that got me thinking that there were really qualified professionals in Kansas City wanting to teach and there are so many children in the area that would love lessons but can't afford them.

I talked to several teachers to see what they thought if we would give free lessons to kids who really can't afford music lessons. But that wouldn't benefit many kids because the teachers cannot afford to give many free lesson. So, I looked at getting grants to start a non-profit organization to help pay the teachers so more kids can have free lessons.

There were some pretty small grants that could be awarded if we could become a non-profit but in the end, it was nothing that we could use immediately. So we applied to become incorporated and started the KCVI Music Education Charities to help raise money to give underprivileged children scholarships for free music lessons, not just voice. The website is www.musicedcharities.org. I then asked several area charities to see if they may be interested in helping us out; I just wanted some ideas. That got around to Evan Luskin at the Lyric Opera. I told him what we were trying to do and I asked them about sponsoring a fundraising event to help generate some scholarships for these kids. They said that would be great, so starting in September we are going to have an online event to help raise funds for this. The contributions will go to providing free voice lessons for underprivileged children and to the music education programs at the Lyric Opera.

So, lessons are starting, we're sending out information to the high schools in the area, and many other teachers and businesses have been contacting me about partnering. If you are interested in helping, just go to www.musicedcharities.org and click the "participate" tab to see what you can do to help. It is a really exciting time, and hopefully many people will benefit from all of this. I, for one, am learning to delegate!

I will be updating often so check back soon. And, if you're in the KC area, give me a call - I would love to hang out!

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