15 Jul A Passion for Teaching
By: Rachel Cetel, ArtSmart mentor
Music is my passion. I cannot imagine doing anything else for a living, and believe me, I have tried. Other jobs have not given me the sense of accomplishment and personal fulfillment that teaching music has and continues to do. I feel as though teaching voice has been my calling in life. I love it!
I have been a voice teacher for over seventeen years. I began teaching voice on a whim; a friend of the family knew I was a voice major in college. The summer between my freshman and sophomore years in college, she called me and asked if I would be interested in working with her daughter. I thought it sounded like fun, so I said yes. The rest is history- I fell in love with teaching voice and knew that this is what I wanted to do. I continued to work with this student on all of my summer and winter breaks from college. After I graduated, I moved back home to study Voice Pedagogy (teaching) at Westminster Choir College. At that time, I also worked on expanding my private voice teaching business and worked in several community music schools. One student eventually led to many, and I continued to hone my craft while I was a Masters student. That very first voice student of mine went on to study Music Theater at the prestigious NYU Tisch School for the Arts and is now a professional singer.
Fast forward to today- I have a large Independent Voice Studio in Cherry Hill, NJ, I teach applied voice and music appreciation at two county colleges in South Jersey, and I work for ArtSmart. Perhaps the most challenging and rewarding job that I have is ArtSmart. If my calling in life is to teach voice, then I should share that gift. What better way is there to do that than to go to an underserved community? These students need us Mentors.
There is an old adage: “Those who cannot do, teach”. I feel very strongly that when it comes to voice, this is completely false. I continue to perform professionally- I sing in churches, I perform supporting roles and chorus in a small regional opera company, Boheme Opera New Jersey, and a community opera company, Delaware Valley Opera Company. Most recently, I have started my own group with two colleagues entitled Two Sopranos and a Piano. We perform in NJ, and our last event was two weeks ago- “Songs I’ll Never Sing, Roles I’ll Never Play: a Miscast Cabaret.
Performing improves my teaching, and teaching improves my performing. I feel that the two must go hand in hand. Performing keeps my voice fresh and keeps me engaged in learning new music. Through my performance endeavors, I can provide “real-world” stories for my students. This is why you will see very impressive operatic credentials on most of the ArtSmart mentors’ resumes. We all Can Do and Can Teach- and continue to do both.