Courtney Crouse has been trained by the world famous soprano, Carol Vaness, and with one of America’s leading vocal pedagogues, Paul Kiesgen. She was an Associate Instructor of Voice at America’s largest operatic training ground, Indiana University, and has taught private lessons throughout the United States for over 15 years. In 2013 she completed her Doctorate in Music from Indiana University. She sings operatic repertoire, musical theater and has been the featured singer with several jazz ensembles. She is an Associate Professor of Voice at Oklahoma City University.
This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.
—George Bernard Shaw
My goal as a teacher: to inspire students to BE MORE, to be brighter, stronger, more alive, more passionate people than they ever imagined. It is a privilege to teach in the arts, to teach voice; it is a pursuit that combines language, culture, historical perspective, body awareness, theater, acting, understanding human nature, understanding your own weaknesses and strengths and committing to celebrating your strengths while working on your weaknesses. I love that art requires the pursuit and understanding of so many aspects of being alive.
I am an advocate for teaching the individual student, utilizing pedagogical approaches that are appropriate for each students’ hyper and hypofunctioning. Recently, I have added an overarching goal in my teaching of fear finding; finding the moment of fear and why the student has it has become a key to unlocking potential in my studio. Many aspects of singing are counter intuitive, and our intuition tells we can or can’t do something or that we need to resort to extraordinary (hyperfunctional) measures. I want students to give themselves permission to fail, to celebrate freedom over safety and control (control with improper muscularity and bad tensions) and to pursue the feeling of a free sound/energy over listening for something that sounds good.
Contemplation of how fear can rule us, can keep us from our true selves has led me to focus on another f word, focus. If a student can clearly focus on one technical aspect without any noise or negativity entering the brain, then that skill becomes more accessible. Focus removes fear from the equation. I am enamored by the power of focus to eradicate fear. Learning to focus in the small moments of a vocalise translates itself into the bigger picture of being able to focus in the most challenging moments of performing and auditioning. The conquering of fear engenders trust that technique can carry a singer through the trials of a life of performing.
At the end of collegiate study (although study and growth never ends), it is my hope that students will have gained tools and strategies that help them identify fears, free themselves from these fears, trust in the training, and trust that they now have the skills, mental, physical and emotional for a successful and happy life in the arts.
My happy life in the arts comes from continuing to grow and learn from my students. They are gifts and are helping me become a better teacher. I look forward to seeing how my philosophy develops throughout my life.
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