Singing is Life
Singing is Life

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What kinds of lessons do you offer?
  2. How old is too old to learn piano or voice?
  3. How young is too young?
  4. Do you have special programs for gifted and talented children?
  5. I'm concerned about my child practicing. What should I do?
  6. Where are lessons located?
  7. Will you teach in my home?
  8. What happens in a voice lesson?
  9. What happens at an interview?
  10. Why do I have to interview?
  11. Do you offer Kindermusik lessons?
  12. How often are lessons, and how long are they?
  13. How many lessons will I need?
  14. What do I bring to my lesson?
  15. What materials do I need to purchase?
  16. How much will I need to practice?
  17. What performance opportunities do you offer? 
  18. Are recitals required?

1.  What lessons do you offer?


McIntire Studios offers lessons in voice, piano, sight-singing, ear-training, music theory, and composition. Voice, piano, aural skills and music theory are available from Michelle McIntire. David McIntire teaches traditional and electronic composition lessons, song writing, and music business. An audition/interview is required for all lessons.

2.  How old is too old to learn piano or voice?


I've taught retirement-age beginning students for many years, and I've discovered that attitude is more important than age! For piano students, finger coordination comes more slowly than for a child (about what one would expect), but the theory side comes much faster. A trade-off, really. Vocal study for the older student is usually geared to the choir member and occasional soloist, although of course I accept retired professional singers too. In your lessons we will work to increase vocal flexibility, improve agility and support, create a more stable breath connection, and strive for greater freedom of tone. These goals are for every singer, really, but physical changes in the older singer require special attention in these areas. As a native and long-time resident of the state of Florida, retirement capitol of the world, I've made something of a specialty of teaching older adults, and it is something I find especially rewarding.

3.    How young is too young for piano or voice?


Music is inherent in us. Most of us begin to sing before we even begin to talk! Music--especially singing--is central to our very being, and is essential to our development as people. Piano/vocal study can begin at a fairly early age, as young as 4 (see note below). However, parents are very actively involved in the learning process for the very young student, and need to be aware of the time commitment they are taking on. Very young students, ages 4 - 7, require weekly or bi-weekly lessons of between 15 - 30 minutes each, with the parent actively involved in the lessons and the practice sessions at home. Grade school students typically receive 30 - 45 minute lessons once a week, with the parent present in the lesson and very active at home. Children in grades 6 - 8 receive a 30-minute lesson once per week. Parents are invited, but not required, to attend. Students in 9th grade and higher receive 30 - 60-minute lessons once or twice a week. Parents are always invited to attend lessons.


*Note: All students early-childhood through early elementary receive a combination of piano & vocal training. Younger singers will learn the easiest way to read music while they are learning vocal technique, and young pianists will learn basic singing skills while working on the piano. Everybody sings, everybody plays. Will I accept a pre-pubescent student for voice training only? If that's where their passion lies. But music reading is much easier to learn with the aid of an external instrument. I will help a student learn to sing, work on audition songs, and allow them to sing in recital, while they are studying piano, if they want to combine skills. 

4.    My child has been identified as Gifted and Talented at school (Bridges program). How will you meet the unique needs of my child?


Music is one of the very best ways to challenge your G&T student. Since we offer instruction tailored to the individual student, our programs are well suited to help your child realize his or her fullest potential.

Many G &T students become quickly bored with traditional music lessons (once per week for an hour) because they learn quickly and therefore hate unnecessary repetition. However, on a physical level (finger facility) repetition is as important as ever. Younger students, especially (Grades 1 - 3) lack the discipline to 'make' themselves continue to practice a song they've learned, even if they understand the need for it. Therefore, I've discovered that G&T children in this age range require shorter lessons that meet more frequently than once a week. This eliminates the endless repetition that gifted students often do not tolerate well. Many gifted students come to lessons 2-3 times a week for twenty - thirty minute lessons. Once the student has developed the self-discipline to match their ability, lessons can meet further and further apart - usually after only one or two semesters of study.

5.  I'm concerned about my child practicing. What should I do?


Practice can be a constant battle, which is no fun for anyone. I encourage open dialogue between student and parent: that the student understand that the parent is trying to help, and that the parent remember that actually STARTING practice each day is often the most difficult part. Make a pact to be gentle with each other from the outset.


I also encourage the use of a stopwatch rather than a timer for practice timings. Even as an adult, it is much more satisfying to see how long I have actually practiced than to count the minutes until I can be done.


Another practice tip is to allow the child to take frequent breaks, always remembering to re-start the stopwatch. I find that a specific goal (such as fixing the fingering in a two measure passage, or sing the letter names on two or three songs) is much more efficient than just slogging through the songs in the book. Another practice tip: the "never pass the piano" rule.  Have the child never pass the piano without sitting down and playing something. The time adds up surprisingly fast! :)


If practice is good at the beginning of the week but suffers after day 3 or 4 because they are bored or frustrated, your child may need to enter our G&T program, as outlined in #4 above. If you are interested in this service, speak with Michelle McIntire about enrolling your child in this program.

6.    Where are lessons located?


Lessons are in Parkville MO, in the 64152 ZIP code area. Contact us for directions when you set up your initial interview/audition.

7.    Will you teach in my home?


We do not travel to teach lessons.

9.    Is there an audition? What is the interview?


There is no audition for entrance in McIntire Studios. There is, however, a required entrance interview. When you come for your interview, we will talk first, get to know each other a bit, and then I will have you sing. First, I will tell you about my background, the studio expectations, and tuition and scheduling. Then we will talk about you: your goals, hopes, dreams. After that, I will run you through a vocal diagnostic that will reveal your range, your tessitura, your breath control and posture, diction/vowel formation, dynamic control, registration issues (if any), and tonal memory. You will need to prepare a song to present: be sure to select a song that you enjoy singing or think you do well. If you've never sung or played before, don't sweat - I'll help you. If you have a musical resume or a demo, bring it. The interview is fun and shouldn't be stressful. If you don't have a song to sing, we will sing something simple together.

8.    What happens in a voice lesson?


Lessons are very individualized. However, every lesson has the following elements: Warm up, exercise, ear-training/sight-singing, and (after the first month or so) song work. Offered as necessary are musicianship, vocal hygiene, IPA, rehearsal and performance etiquette, and interpretation. There may be lessons where very little singing happens at all; this is a very normal part of the process. Learning is still happening.


10.  Why do I have to have an interview?


An interview provides you with an opportunity to meet with your potential teacher before you begin lessons.  This is important - you need to feel safe with your teacher.  The interview allows the teacher to evaluate your strengths and challenge areas, and to assess your "attitude for success".  During the diagnostic session, I always see how well the student responds to direction, which in my book is more important than the beauty of the basic instrument. In my studio, a student's attitude is much more important than ability in terms of passing the audition.

11.  Do you offer Kindermusik lessons?


I no longer personally offer Kindermusik lessons, preferring to focus on private voice and piano lessons at this time. However, I am a huge advocate of this program and in most cases recommend it over private lessons for the child through age 7. 

12.  How often are lessons, and how long are they?

          Lesson times vary. Typically lessons are once weekly for 30 - 60 minutes.


13.  How many lessons do I need?


Lessons are an on-going process, very similar to weight training. When you get into the kind of shape you want, lessons may become less frequent, but will never stop all together. As in weight training, once you're in shape, you have to work to stay there! They are also similar to studying a language. Music is a language. As with any language, it takes years to become truly fluent. Then remember, if you don't use it... you can lose it!


14.  What do I bring to my lesson?


Lesson books, notebook, materials, water bottle (singers), phone or some technology to record your lesson, pencil.


15.  What materials do I need to purchase?


You will be responsible for your own music, notebooks, etc. All students need a 3 ring binder and either a metronome or an app on their phone. Piano students need a full keyboard or a piano. Voice students need access to some way to get a pitch and a camera.


16.  How much will I have to practice?


This varies depending on the student. In general, you should practice every day for as long as your lesson is. This may be broken up into much shorter segments - someone who needs 45 minutes of practice per day may play for 5 minutes before school, 20 minutes when they get home, 5 minutes before dinner, 10 minutes when the commercials are on, and 5 minutes just before bedtime. It adds up very quickly! There is no need to 'chain' yourself to the piano.


17.  What performance opportunities do you offer? Are recitals required?


We offer periodic studio classes for voice students, occasional piano studio classes, and two full recitals per year. Studio Class meets once or twice a semester. During this class, singers sing for each other, get to know one another, and learn how to critique and be critiqued. This is an unparalleled opportunity for vocal and musical growth, one usually available only to voice majors. It also provides you with another venue for honest feedback about your voice. Try to attend as many Studio Classes as possible. Please make it your goal to come to all of them. Selections will be either memorized 'complete' or designated 'work in progress'. 


Studio Recitals are required for all students in school. Adults are STRONGLY encouraged to do the recitals as well.


McIntire Studios participates in NATS competitions, MTNA festivals, and has the expectation that eligible students will participate in district choir auditions and solo and ensemble festival through their participating member schools. Also, as a member of ACDA, McIntire Studios offers the opportunity for singers to audition for district, regional, and national honor choirs.

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