- Studio Guidelines and Information
It is our goal at Studio on Main, to embrace and expand your talent, make you knowledgeable of the fundamentals of music and music theory, and to help you to become a better musician and performer. The following is an overview of guidelines and expectations to make your learning experience as a student or parent more enjoyable. They should answer most of our frequently asked questions for all parents and students. Each of these will be strictly followed and are expected of each parent, student, and friend. As we continue to grow, these guidelines will help to keep the parent informed, to help me to keep that small town feel that makes our studio unique, and to help Studio on Main reach it’s fullest potential. Please read and consider carefully so that we can work to make the most of our time together. I appreciate your time, your investment and your trust. I look forward to working with you each week! Lauren Castellaw
New Parents and Students
K-2 ensemble - At this age, the main goal of our ensemble is to inspire a love for music. We cover world music, basic music symbols and terms, but most of all we have fun, dance, and sing. The following are guidelines for our older students, but those with stars apply to this age group as well.
*Students 3rd grade and younger will be monitored at the door upon dismissal until a parent arrives.
Please bring a three ring binder to each rehearsal. I cannot stress this enough. These are necessary for holding music, cd’s, private lesson notes etc. Do not forget!
*Make sure that I have your updated email address. All my newsletters will be sent via email.
*Students are expected to show up to rehearsals on time and eager to learn.
*Private voice students should practice at least 20 minutes a day at home. The warm ups that each private student is given are essential to expanding range, mastering pitch, and helping to even tone during registration change. These should also be reviewed daily. By practicing at home, the student will easily learn the melody of the song, giving us more time to concentrate on mastering the technical aspects of the piece in the studio. Also, the more the student practices , the more we will be able to cover.
*Private voice students' parents are sent an email with a schedule of private lesson dates. Please save this email, print or place on your calendar, so that we can avoid confusion. It is to your advantage to know the parent / student that has private lessons opposite your week. In some cases, if students have to be absent, they will arrange a swap. If you chose this route, this will be your responsibility.
*Ensemble students are expected to practice daily. By reviewing daily, the student becomes comfortable with the repertoire, so when in the studio we can work together to master the piece, harmonies, and staging.
*We have two performances a year. Students are expected to be at rehearsals and performances. Parents are responsible for providing the designated costumes and or paying for costumes in a timely manner before performance. I will try to keep the cost reasonable for these.
* Private students will be given notes during lessons. Things to work on for next lesson as well as a record of range.
Points system. Each semester, ensembles and soloists are encouraged to participate in our points system. This system was created to help each singer learn to read music at their own pace, and be active in their community through singing. This system is not necessary to participate in voice lessons, but highly encouraged to help the singer make the most of his/ her lessons and learning experience.
Sample points system below, explained in detail in studio.
1 pt.-sheet music
2 pts.-every theory sheet completed. Limit 10 pages per student, per week
3 pts.-performing a solo or with a choir in your community
4 pts.-performing a solo with an instrument
1 pt.-per song mastered during private lessons
5 pts.-foreign language piece
The Nitty Gritty
*Lessons should be paid for monthly and at the last lesson/rehearsal of the month. Fees are by the month, not the week. Fees are ensemble-$50/month and private lessons are $30/month. Lessons are a service to the student and are expected to be paid for promptly.
*Ensemble students meet for 45 minutes per week. Private lesson students meet for 30 minutes every other week. I require students to be an ensemble singer to take private lessons. My private lesson openings are limited. If you are already an ensemble singer and want to take private lessons, please let me know so that I can offer you the first available opening. Students will be offered a private lesson time in the order they joined ensemble. A student must complete a full term with an ensemble before being offered a private lesson time.
*In most cases, I will have students before and after your private lesson or ensemble time. Please respect their time by coming in the studio quietly and leaving promptly after dismissal. Sometimes, students arrive before their private lesson time and the student before them isn’t there. If the student who is there wishes to have their lesson early, that is fine, but if the student who is scheduled for that time arrives within 5 minutes of that time, I will take the student who’s scheduled for that time. If the student who’s scheduled for that time arrives more than 5 minutes late and I’ve already started working with another student, I will finish working with the student who arrived early before moving on to the student who was late. If a student or parent has any questions, suggestions, or concerns, you may call or email me. I check my email daily..Because of the student/teacher ratio, I prefer that parents send emails. This ensures that I have time to answer your questions thoroughly and promptly.
Voice lessons require dedication. Parents or students are expected to let me know of an absence, so that I can plan accordingly. When working with a large group, especially working with harmony, and choreography, each students attendance is essential and takes extra time to work back in after an absence. Absences for sickness , family emergency, death, as well as family vacation are excused. Two unexcused absences are allowed for sporting events, or other extra curricular activities. More than two unexcused absences in a term are grounds for dismissal for both ensemble and private lesson students. If the student does not desire be dedicated, they should consider another venue. Students who do not attend the polish practices, senior recital (if applicable), and dress rehearsal are not permitted to perform in the show, and lesson fees will not be refunded.
*Monday students- In the past, we have been closed during Monday holidays. Effective January 2012, we will be open on Monday holidays unless otherwise noted. Your attendance is appreciated, however I do realize that families plan trips around these holidays. If a student misses during the holiday, it will not count as unexcused.
*Ensemble students are given an expansive repertoire at the beginning of each term. This is chosen to suit and challenge their voices for performances. This will range from musicals, jazz, country, pop, classical, opera, gospel, and many more. Most of the pieces will not be contemporary because I like to cover music the student does not hear every day. However, occasionally, I will throw in a contemporary piece for fun, and I am open to working with the private student on such numbers for outside venues. Students are expected to be open minded and appreciate each piece. We will learn every piece and two or three of the best will be chosen for performance. If a piece conflicts with the student’s religious beliefs, they may sit out during the song in both rehearsal and performance, in which case I should be notified in advance.
*Private students repertoire will also be chosen by the instructor for performances. I will be glad to work with students on songs they enjoy or suggest for other venues, but for performance, it will strictly be my decision. The student will be expected to try each song or piece given, so that they will continue to grow vocally. These pieces will vary. Some will be to challenge range, breathing, changes in registration. Some will be to introduce new genres and to help further stage presence.
*Private lesson students will be offered make up lessons for excused absences. These will take place the last Saturday of the month, or around their ensemble time and should be scheduled early.
* If I have to cancel lessons, you will be notified by text message, call, or email as soon as possible. I will make up lessons missed because of my absence closer to our performance date when we need extra practice.
*In the case of inclement weather, I will usually adhere to the school schedule. If schools are out, then we will be out as well. You will be notified via email about cancellations. Any ensemble lesson missed because of weather will be made up during the month before performance. Any private lesson missed can be made up on the last Saturday of the month, or around their ensemble time if a time is available.
* Fall and Spring break- we do not observe these because our students are from different schools with different breaks.
*Students are encouraged to be open to new music and just as enthusiastic during practice as they would be in a performance. I will work hard to make them feel comfortable and confident as singers.
*Questions. Communication with parents is important to me. Feel free to contact me via email at any time with questions suggestions or thoughts and I will answer you promptly. I welcome an open relationship with parents. Please share milestones your child has reached, song suggestions, your child’s progress at home, videos of outside performances etc. I will be available to take your calls or texts at 731-927-0914 Monday through Friday before 4p.m. Any other time I will be teaching or with my family. Please respect my family time.
*CD’s- If your child misplaces a CD, or has a CD that doesn’t play, there will be extra copies available at your request, or an email of the tracks can be sent.
*Parents should not sit in during lessons, ensemble or private unless discussed with me first. It can be very distracting for children and teachers for people to watch while we are rehearsing. There is a waiting area designated for parents, or parents can choose to drop off their student. It is much easier to challenge a student and get more accomplished during lessons if parents do not attend. Students will be more apt to open up and try the exercises I have for them as well. There will be some cases that parents will be asked to sit in, listen, and help.
* Parents are expected to be open to all information about your student. I will inform you if your child has pitch problems etc. Every voice is different. For those who have problems hearing pitch, it can take years of work with a child to get them to the point where they hear and sing the proper notes. With proper work, in most cases, it can be overcome. It will be at your discretion whether or not solo or ensemble singing is the best venue for your child.
*Other venues- I am often asked to send talent to parades, or other community events. There will be a sign up sheet for most cases. If your child’s ensemble or solo is selected for these events, you will be contacted in plenty of time to prepare.
I encourage a fun, upbeat atmosphere during all lessons! The following is expected from each student or the student will be asked to sit out.
Arriving on time
Arriving prepared (folder and pencil)
A good attitude - students are expected to be kind to their peers as I work hard to create a sense of community between each ensemble. They are a team.
Badmouthing, complaining, disrupting, or disrespectfulness of any kind will not be tolerated .
Participation- each student is expected to sing for the entire duration of the rehearsal and or participate in our choreography enthusiastically. If the student is too sick to do either, he/she should stay at home.
All cell phones should be turned off or left in the car during lessons. If I see a phone, I will hold it until rehearsal is over.
Our discipline system is simple, if a singer, for any reason, is disrespectful, or disruptive, a warning is given. On the second offense, the singer will be asked to sit out front in the lobby until a parent arrives(with supervision), and parents will be notified.
-I do pass out candy occasionally after rehearsals. Please let me know if your child has an allergy of any kind.
We have two performances a year. Our Spring Performance is usually the second or third of week of May, and our Christmas Performance the second week of December. Dates are sent out months in advance so that family and friends can plan to attend.
A few months before performance, your child will receive a master CD of the opening and closing songs, as well as their ensemble numbers.
You will also receive a performance list which should be saved to your computer or you may get a print out at the studio. Please prepare. I try to keep the total cost for all costumes under $50.00. These should be bought as soon as possible to avoid confusion.
Private lesson students are free to choose their own costume to suit their solos and I am open to any idea the parent deems appropriate.
Dress Rehearsal is usually a Friday night or Saturday afternoon unless otherwise noted. It is the night that we iron out all the glitches, get our students used to transitions, staging, and spotlight. These are always somewhat controlled chaos, and last much longer than performances. Parents may sit in the theater or leave the student. A remind message will be sent when your singer is dismissed. Your singer will remain in the dressing rooms with supervision until a parent arrives.
The night of dress rehearsal and performance, students should:
Arrive in opening number attire and stage makeup
Place performance attire in dressing room with our backstage managers.
We have a videographer and photographer at each performance. You will have the chance to speak with them during performance and rehearsal if you wish to purchase either.
-Only water is allowed in the dressing rooms, and snacks provided by the studio that wont stain clothing.
-Most students will wear stage makeup to avoid being “washed out“ by the lights. This is at the parent’s discretion.
Children may bring video games or books to occupy their time back stage.
Studio on Main teachers or volunteers are not responsible for any item of clothing, accessories or games lost during rehearsal or performance. It is very important to locate all of your personal belongings before leaving.
During both rehearsal and performance, there are volunteers designated to help with costume changes. These are the only people allowed back stage during both, to avoid confusion. Most of the people backstage have been helping since we have been open. These people work very hard to ensure that we have a great performance, and that your child is comfortable, well cared for, and prepared for stage. They should be treated with the utmost respect without question. If you would like to volunteer to help backstage, please let me know.
It is essential that during show time, students eat before they arrive, are well rested, and enthusiastic. It is very important for parents to be encouraging.
I reserve the right to exclude a student from performing a solo or ensemble number for reasons such as an unprepared piece or choreography, student absence, lack of monthly payment, or refusal to be enthusiastic on stage or use instructed stage presence.
Our shows are fun! I ask that parents encourage each student and ensemble as they perform. This helps build confidence!
Getting the most out of your lessons
-get to know your ensemble and work as a team
-Learn every song and it’s history!
-during practice at home, highlight problem areas, so that we will be sure to cover these during our lesson
-make plans to perform outside of the studio in talent shows, at church, or other community events
-keep your CD’s and lyrics or sheet music in an organized binder so that in the future they will be readily available.
-make notes in rehearsal!
-share with your parents what you are learning!
-further your knowledge of music at
Here you will find many lessons on music theory from beginner to composer level. This site is wonderful, because it explains theory on a very basic level and there are quizzes that will allow you to test yourself! There are even ear , keyboard, and guitar trainers as well!
Singing is very personal. I was a choir and private student for many years, so I can empathize. As a voice coach, it is my responsibility to challenge my students. As your teacher, I WILL challenge you, give you constructive criticism, ask you to do exercises and pieces that will make you uncomfortable. I will ask you to perform in front of a large crowd and give one hundred percent. I will also rejoice with you when we reach a goal or you perfect that area that we have been working so hard for. I will try to inspire you with challenging music and it’s history. I will teach you new things about music each week. I will help you work toward your goals of singing, whether they be for stage , church, or for college. I will expect you to work toward our notes and exercises that I have asked you to do, as well as try every piece that I give you. You aren’t expected to love every song, but you are expected to appreciate them. As a teacher, I am constantly learning how to better my techniques and teaching. I will make mistakes but will always have the intention of helping the student. Taking voice lessons at Studio on Main requires both parent and student faith in me as a teacher to make educated decisions on what techniques and music will help the student to grow. I pledge to dedicate my time, and effort to helping you. My desire is to mentor and motivate my students, and because the voice is so personal(especially for the soloists) give emotional support, inspiration, and compassion. Help me achieve my goal of making the most out of your experience at Studio on Main, by stepping up to the challenge of being guided outside of your comfort zone, working hard, and, being open and receptive to new concepts, so that you will become a greater musician and performer.
I am grateful for the opportunity to teach you!