Joan Frey Boytim's Private Voice Studio Handbook is a Must-Have for all Voice Teachers
Long known and respected as a voice teacher and presenter for the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), Ms. Boytim taught voice privately for over 45 years. Her experiences as a school music teacher, a private voice instructor, and a compiler of dozens of vocal repertoire books for Hal Leonard publishing have provided her with more than enough expertise for producing this excellent handbook.
I've been using this book as a guide and resource for my voice studio since I began teaching in 2004. Knowing the ins and outs and having heard it all, I can confidently recommend this book for any and for all private voice studio instructors.
Here's what I think:
+ Friendly Format: each chapter begins with a 'letter' from 'Nancy' and serves as an introduction to each chapter. Even these short letters provide insight and assistance.
+ She is clear that a voice studio is a business. Chapter 21 is appropriately entitled "Business 101" and that's exactly what Ms Boytim provides. She covers the delicate task of raising lesson fees with clarity and appropriateness: "Since studio teaching is a business and not a hobby, your fee schedule adjustments must be made as economic factors dictate."
+ Ms Boytim has covered all the major topics in a great level of detail. She covers equipment, the studio policy, music purchases, record-keeping and organization.
+ The structure of the lesson is important, as consistency and repetition lend much to the students' learning process. She covers the initial lesson in-depth (Chapter 7).
+ Solfeggio Syllable Sheets: So many singers don't necessarily learn the basics of how to create music, they learn music and then can repeat it. Learning to identify the structure of music is a key component of creating music, and Ms Boytim has included her own Solfeggio Syllable Sheets for your studio use--with duplication authorization. She's even included simple harmonizations so you can accompany the student for these. These are an invaluable tool to helping students learn how to sight-sing and they are basically free.
+ Multiple Income Streams: there's a list on page 105 of other income producers. She gives great ideas!
- Since this book was published in 2003, it doesn't offer advice on running your website or using a powerful online tool like Music Teacher's Helper.
- Some of the topics, like what to wear (she recommends skirts for females...) are not necessarily going to resonate with Gen X, Gen Y, and the Millennials. When in doubt, go for Business Casual or for Business Dress. It's always better to be over-dressed than under-dressed.
- Sometimes it's better to politely reject a student that you can not serve well, whether it be through personality conflict or mismatched goals. Ms Boytim doesn't answer this question, which can be a sticky situation for an instructor.
The Private Voice Studio Handbook is a must-have for any voice instructor, whether you are teaching part-time or full-time. It's important to have a clear structure and to present yourself professionally as an independent business owner and as an instructor. Especially if you are in the vital foundational stages of your business (the first 1-3 years), this book will provide you with essential information and guidance for a successful voice studio.