Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bio

Soprano Robin Idestrom has performed throughout the United States, Canada and Europe, in a variety of genres from contemporary, spirituals and gospel, to Broadway, concert repertoire and modern opera, as well as being featured on a number of recordings. Robin began teaching voice and piano privately in California in 1993 after receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Performance from Azusa Pacific University. She has performed with the Calgary Philharmonic, the Calgary Civic Symphony, the Johnny Summer’s Jazz Orchestra, the Calgary Opera Chorus, The SymphoNYChorus and Connecticut Lyric Opera. She had the privilege of portraying Ruth Baldwin in the New York premier of the opera, Later the Same Evening, as well as the Second Housewife in Griffilken by Lukas Foss. Robin has studied and performed with Centro Studi Lirica in Italy and graduated with her Masters in Classical Voice from the renowned Manhattan School of Music in 2009, studying under Joan Patenaude-Yarnell. The recipient of the Birgit Nilsson Scholarship in Voice, Robin is passionate about creating life and beauty through music that will touch the soul, as well as inspiring others to reach their unique potential as artists and communicators.

My thoughts on teaching kids

I am hearing this more and more lately: "My daughter just LOVES to sing, what do you think of teaching kids?"

"How old is your child?" I ask.

"Well, they actually aren't born yet...."

O.k, so no one has come to me inquiring about their fetus yet, though I'm hearing about a few 7 year olds these days and even a 5 year old. (5 is a bit young!)

Readiness for voice lessons really depends on the child themselves! What is the ideal age for starting voice lessons? In the past, I would have said adolescence. Ages 11-13 are GREAT ages to start lessons and I still think those are good ages to start. However, starting younger can be a very good thing, depending on the student.

I have taught voice to 7 - 65 year olds. Right now I have a 7, 9 and two 10 year olds. The age of the student is not the main issue. The passion of the student is the main issue. A passionate and talented 10 year old student can see vocal improvement more quickly than a 25 year old student! A committed 50 year old student will quickly outshine (and outgrow) a talented, but non-committed 18 year old student.

I find that voice, for children in particular, takes a bit more personal motivation than for other instruments. It can't be the parent's desire for the child - it must be the child's desire for themselves! After all, their body is the instrument! Singing involves the body of course, as well as the heart, soul and mind. Good singing engages all of these things. I used to find that teaching older kids was better, but if you show me a child who has talent, an exceptional desire to sing and is willing to practice, I know that it can work.

When it comes to kids and singing, I find they often already do so much right! They tend to be freer, less inhibited, and more joyful when they sing. It is once we get older, hear criticism and learn to fear that we, sadly, hinder ourselves when we sing. When I teach a child, my job is to discover all they are doing right, encourage that and keep them from getting in their own way. Sure, they all have some unhealthy habits that need fixing. Those are addressed in a persistent but non-threatening manner.

My young students are delighting me! Some of the wonderful things that they are doing could be an example to my older students. For example, my youngest student today was dancing freely, with joy as she sang her new piece, and as a result, her voice rang out beautifully. Ah, if everyone would free up and sing as unhindered as she was.

Most of all, kids want to have fun and sing their hearts out. I am there to help them do it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A little bit about me & the lessons...

Many people ask, what is your teaching style? What is a lesson like? The second questions is easier to answer than the first. The best way to find out how you fit with a voice teacher is to meet with them in person and ask them questions, or try a sample lesson. You can also observe a lesson that I teach someone else. But it takes time for a student and teacher to get to know and understand one another!

A little bit about my personality: I am passionate, creative, and full of energy. I am a people person, relational, flexible, and with a good sense of humor. At the same time, however, I push you to your potential and I will not accept mediocrity.

I am passionate about helping each student to find their true voice and develop it to be as beautiful, honest and healthy as possible. When we first meet, I find out where you are at - your hopes for lessons, your musical goals/dreams. I want each student to be really happy with what they are receiving from me and so from time to time, we review how the lessons are going and if there are new goals that you hope to accomplish. I hope for lessons to be a time to work, but also a time to experience joy.

As I get to know your voice, I make goals for each lesson -something I hope we can work on/accomplish. The lessons are broken into 2 sections; the 1st half is technique, including breathing and vocal exercises that I choose for each individual student to help grow her vocally and to overcome problem/weak areas. The 2nd half of the lesson is singing; learning and preparing a variety of repertoire for performance. (I accompany on piano) This gives you the opportunity to put what you are learning into practice. I encourage learning a variety of styles of music, but teach a very solid technique that will help you to become a more powerful and effective performer. Besides the whole technical and musical aspect, I help students learn how to really spend time with the text and express themselves in an authentic way, vocally and expressively. That is so important! This is what will impact ourselves and others as they hear us.

I offer chances for my students to perform in recitals throughout the year. This is not meant to be an intimidating experience, but rather an opportunity to share what is in you with others. There are student recitals - where you perform for one another, in a mutually supportive and low-key environment, as well as recitals where you can invite friends and family to come and hear you. There is nothing like having a performance date on the calendar to push you to a whole new level!

I have a Master's (and Bachelor's) Degree in Classical Vocal performance and I relish singing this type of music, however, I am unique in that I have had a great deal of experience performing contemporary, pop, gospel and even some Broadway music. I use my solid technique and strong communication skills, but can easily adjust my style of singing to suit the piece and I know how to teach others to do the same. It is a joy to pass on the wealth I have learned to others, to see the excitement and confidence that accompanies growth, and to see people find their true voice.

Voice Contract

Voice Studio Contract of Robin Idestrom

Ridgefield, CT


Please read carefully and retain a copy for reference.

Your lesson Day ___________ Time: _________

What you can expect from me:

An ongoing enthusiastic commitment to helping you to become the best singer and performer you can be.

Each lesson tailor-made for you, your needs, you ability, 
to help you reach your goals

To give you the tools to be able to sing with vocal health, 
joy and freedom

To help you to find a variety of good repertoire

To accompany you on piano throughout the lesson

What I expect from you:

At the first lesson, I want to hear what you hope to receive from your voice studies, and your musical hopes and goals.

Arrive at each lesson on time and prepared so that we can make the most of the time we have each week.

Consistent practice throughout the week; You must set aside time to practice, to vocalize and work on your music if you expect the lessons to make any difference. (Don’t wait and try to cram it all in the day before your lesson). You will become a better singer with consistent practice.

Come with a willingness to learn, and sometimes step out of your comfort zone.

Come prepared with a recording device, music, notebook and pen.

Open and honesty communication - Let me know how things are going, I want you to be happy with what you are receiving as a student.

Other things:

Lessons are recorded so that you may practice along with your tape
(or sound file) during the week. As you listen to my instruction, it can be very helpful to take further notes of things you may not have caught during the lesson. You should record each lesson on a fresh track each time. Recording over lessons is discouraged. Provide a separate tape or track for recording the accompaniment for the songs. Please label each recording with the date of lesson.

For payment information, please contact me by email or phone.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What others have said about Robin...

Robin is passionate about music, and that energy and enthusiasm was transferred to me as a student. She helped me develop my voice, skill and technique, but even more importantly, she taught me how to tell the story of a song. That is truly powerful. Her lessons were always organized and delivered with a sense of humor, and I loved that she pushed me to do and try things I never would have done - like sing a song in Latin! Robin's music experience, education, and talent are amazing, and I feel truly blessed to have been able to learn from her.

Stefanie Wind


Robin is a fabulous teacher. She taught me numerous tips and practical ways to improve my breathing, musical understanding and vocal quality. As my understanding of music and vocals grew, my confidence and performances have blossomed.

Joyfully Singing, Dawn McMillan


I met Robin at a point in my vocal journey when I needed encouragement and needed to get past my own self in order to grow musically. Her instruction was exactly what I needed. She seemed to know intuitively what I needed to hear, and where I needed to be pushed. I still remember the day when I was singing and I heard a voice come from within me that I didn't recognize. Robin opened up a whole other part of my voice. She taught me more than just singing and good technique. She taught me how to truly feel and express the music that I sing. Her own passion for singing and empathetic nature is demonstrated both as she sings and as she teaches. It was a joy to learn under her and I am forever grateful for the gift that she gave me.

Melanna Heebner


You taught me so many useful techniques which I use both when singing and speaking publicly: voice projection, breathing techniques and vowel formation are the ones which I use most often. Because you are such an exceptional vocalist, I draw examples from my memories of your performances, as well.

Fran


I had the privilege of receiving instruction from Robin and would highly recommend her. She is talented for sure, but beyond that, she is warm, encouraging, and patient.
Admittedly, I was deathly afraid of singing for an audience, but by the time my coaching was over, I could do it. From an initial cup of tea, to singing for her family members, and finally to recitals, Robin had the unique talent of bringing out the best in me. To this day, I credit her with the best parts of my performance technique.

Amy


Robin Idestrom was my voice teacher for two years while I studied as an undergraduate student. She was more than just a teacher, she was a mentor. Her own talent is so immense that just listening to her vocal demonstrations is inspiring! Years later I still have recordings of my voice lessons because her teaching is timeless. Unlike many vocal teachers, Robin's teaching didn't narrow my vocal ability into one genre. I am not limited to "only" one style, but have a versatility that allows me to accomplish diverse musical goals. Perhaps above anything, Robin taught me how to communicate through music. She equipped me to express myself to those listening live or on a recording. She gave me the ability not just to sing but to perform, not just to perform, but to connect.
Her knowledge and experience is vast and she pours all of her wisdom into her students - giving us the benefit of her many accomplishments. Her encouragement inspired me to work hard and improve beyond my expectations. Because I felt so confident with her training I went from a young, shy singer to a fearless bellower who motivated others.
Robin is a fabulous voice teacher and has become a cherished friend. I whole-heartedly recommend Robin as a teacher, there is truly no one better!

Christine Chester


Robin did an amazing job of helping our singers connect with the heart of what we are singing about. She took us way beyond technical improvement to the place inside of us and talked about the kind of expression that really moves people. Thank you, Robin!

Peter Neumann, Celebration Arts Pastor, Bayside Church of Woodland, CA


After working with Mrs. Idestrom for the past four months, I feel that she is extremely encouraging and supportive. Her vocal techniques and exercises have not only helped my singing, but have also made me feel so much more confident. Mrs. Idestrom has also coached me for auditions and provided great helpful feedback and insight. The hour flies by -- she is such a positive influence to her students.

Lindsay Clouse


I have loved how expressive you are in your teaching and how much fun you have doing what you do. It encourages your students to open up and take more risks because you are right there doing it with them! I have also benefited a lot from your instruction to take the music away and focus on the lyrics of the song. This has proved to be eye-opening and most especially useful in musical theatre when we are really pushed to embody a character. I've also found that it causes me to enjoy the song that much more because it helps me to really understand what I'm singing about! Your instruction on all the technicalities of singing (breathing, balance, diction, emphasis, etc.) has been clear, and your encouragement throughout each lesson is both uplifting and challenging, pushing me to strive that much harder for success.

Heather W.


Robin was my first voice instructor when I was only 11. She helped me incredibly, in the ways of teaching me to increase my vocal power and increasing my vocal range. She helped me become a more confident singer, and stretched me by helping me pursue other opportunities with my voice. I have been in many choirs, musicals, and performed many solos since, and would like to give the thanks and credit of my vocal strength to Robin. Thank you.


Robin Idestrom has been a valuable asset to me in my development as a musician and artist. Not only does she teach from knowledge and experience but she creates an incredibly encouraging atmosphere for her students. She will help you believe in yourself and see the possibilities in your vocal development. Robin was the one who taught me I could sing. She led me to my voice and now I am about to graduate with a masters degree in performance! She is incredibly perceptive as a teacher understanding the mechanics of the voice as well as the emotional connection it takes to engage singer to audience. I am grateful to her and know anyone studying with her would benefit greatly!

Maria


Robin took me, (I had no musical learning prior to Robin), as an adult to a point where I was able to sight read a piece of music, utilize proper breathing techniques,(even though I have asthma) and understand why they were important, perform at recitals with little to no fear, thanks to her supportive ways and talks, to a place where I am performing in the community. Without Robin, music would have been lost to me. Her nurturing and understanding allowed me to grow at my speed. She would always take the time to explain my question in a way that I could relate to and it would make sense. No question was a "stupid" question and no question didn't deserve the time and to be answered and explained totally in all aspects. Every lesson was a unique experience from which I grew weekly, never mundane, always something new that worked for me. She has a way of knowing what exercises work best for the individual and therefore takes away frustration that can cause a student to give up. Robin also had me sing in four languages, which was a challenge, but increased my knowledge and
abilities tremendously. I wish I could still be under her tutelage; sadly I live in California a little further away than a commute to allow.


Robin is a fabulous teacher who understands how to develop one's vocal technique from whatever level they start. She is sensitive to each individual's needs and voice types and can instruct in a wide range of styles. Drawing from a broad knowledge of vocal techniques and principles, Robin helped me to strengthen my voice and sing freely so that I felt confident in approaching many kinds of music.


Robin is a wonderfully talented vocal artist. I have learned so much from her. Not only is her passion and enthusiasm for singing contagious, but she is an excellent voice teacher who loves to bring out the best in her students. By giving me exercises and teaching me some important skills, I became much more confident singing in my higher range. I have so much more to learn, but I continue to sing out in my head voice which is now stronger in my 40's than it's ever been. Thanks Robin for your influence and instruction in my singing life.


Robin had incredible patience with me and taught me tools and techniques that I continue to benefit from.


Robin is the first voice teacher I have ever studied with who emphasized really reading the lyrics to songs until the true meaning became integrated into my head and heart. She showed me that it does make a huge difference in the performance if the singer actually believes what she is singing.


I am certainly not a natural vocalist but I was so encouraged when I took voice lessons from Robin. She genuinely worked to help me be more comfortable in my vocal abilities. I'll always remember the "fire engine" that allowed me to open up my vocal range and the patience and genuine demeanour she had in teaching me vocal lessons. I miss that opportunity to be pursuing more of her amazing passion through her teaching. She is amazingly talented as a vocalist and a teacher and shares that in a special way. I couldn't have imagined finding someone more committed to sharing her passion with others.


I was so privileged to be able to take voice lessons from Robin for a year. Within that short amount of time, she taught me so much about developing and strengthening my voice, as well as gaining the confidence to sing in front of an audience. Not only did she have an abundance of suggestions on improving vocal range and technique, but she taught me the importance of connecting with an audience and sharing my interpretation of music through my voice by painting word pictures through dynamics and shaping of each line. My time with her was truly an inspiring and enriching experience!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The language that bridges the chasm

Strangers - or are they?

It was the third time in a row I had been ignored by a stranger I greeted on my walk. She looked away before my smile had the chance to reach her eyes. Unfortunately, our lives are filled with fewer friends than strangers, whom it can be all too easy to pass by without acknowledging. Countless hours are spent investing ourselves in our companions, those for whom we reserve all of our love for. Yet how many hours are spent in the presence of those people we do not know, or care to know, in a lifetime? Time spent on the bus, in line at the teller, at the checkout, stumbling past pedestrians day after day, year after year, while we hang on so tightly to our supply of smiles!

I am not insisting that it is possible to be cheerful at all times. We all have times when we have surpassed our tolerance for people and there is nothing left to give. And then, there are those times in life where we are broken, empty or angry. I am a social person, but when I was enveloped in the grief of losing my father, I could not bear the thought of being around people. Yet right in my darkest time of isolation, I was still able communicate to many through singing. Those songs bridged the gap that my pain had formed between humankind and myself. Sometimes we cannot even love ourselves, much less others. Yet in those spaces in our journey when we feel even a little sympathy, is it not possible to be the one to reach out or at the very least, begin to receive kindness from the others brave enough to give it?

Why must we bind up our hearts so tightly? Why is it that unless we know and like a person, we do not give even the tiniest piece of the vast store of love that lies within us? Each of us wants to be known. But is knowing a prerequisite for loving? I am discovering how sacred even ten seconds with a stranger can be. I ponder what would change if we determined in our hearts that we will love each human being we encounter, from our server to our mail carrier? What if there was a true, open, embracing of each person, no matter how good looking, influential, respectable or kind? A pure fondness that begins in our hearts, seeps through our eyes and is sometimes revealed by words. Music has enabled me to love thousands upon thousands of strangers. I have been able to share my deepest pain, my greatest joys, and the reason for my hope. There has been no greater privilege. I have learned that many people feel like they know me because of the communication that has miraculously occurred through the medium of music. It has the power to bring strangers together and feel like they have known one another for a lifetime.

-Written November 2006