Rachel Schutz

Assistant Professor, Music Performance
School: School of Music, Theatre, and Dance

Teaching Philosophy

As a voice teacher, I see myself as a facilitator and vocal guide, empowering students to make their own discoveries and decisions. My mission is to teach the whole student and support them as they become members of our artistic community. While content, approach, and timeline vary for each individual, my overarching goal is always to create self-sufficient and independent artists who have a deep knowledge of their own body, instrument, repertoire, and style. I ensure that students have a complete grasp of singing anatomy and function, but combine this attention kinesthetic awareness with imagery and metaphor. Though learning solid technique is central to my teaching, music-making, communication, and artistry are no less important and cannot be separated from good singing. Consequently, students are encouraged to experiment with lots of different kinds of repertoire from Renaissance madrigals and Romantic art song though opera, musical theater, jazz, and contemporary classical music in order to build their knowledge and hone their expressive skills.

In tandem to this individualized approach to artistic development, I aim to cultivate socially engaged students that know their artistic significance, value diversity, and use their skills to enhance the community around them. In support of this mission, there are five values that anchor my approach to teaching: humanitycommunityvocal healthartistry, and student-led learning

Humanity: I aim to get to know my students as people and understand their personal values, goals, and struggles. The trust between student and teacher that is built by this kind of relationship is vital to successful learning. Perhaps even more importantly, however, I aim to foster within each student their own sense of artistic vision and musical disposition so that both the student and teacher together can nurture the emerging artist within. 

Community: In addition to a focus on knowing and understanding the self, I encourage my students to deeply consider how they, as an artist, fit into society and what value their work has to their community. I want them to simultaneously advocate for their work and use their work to advocate for others. On the flip side, I also want my students to be influenced by their community, and to grow through exposure to diverse life experiences and art forms. 

Vocal Health: At the core of our art form is communication, and without a deep knowledge of and healthy approach to vocal technique, students will not have the tools they need to effectively communicate. I ensure that students have a complete grasp of singing anatomy and function but combine this attention to physical detail with a rich vocabulary of metaphor and imagery that promotes deep kinesthetic awareness. 

Artistry: Making beautiful and healthy sounds is only the starting point for becoming a fully developed artist. I ask students to dive deeply into diction, text, character development, musical expression, and historical context in order to generate and better communicate their artistic intentions. This work invites students to bring their own life experiences to their craft, while also enhancing their imagination and creativity. 

Student-led learning: In my studio, students are constantly prompted to analyze their own thoughts, actions, and responses in order to become their own best teachers in the practice room. Students are encouraged to lead discussions and presentations during studio class in order to build leadership and analytical skills, and to promote collegiality, mutual mentorship, and support within the studio community. Finally, students are encouraged to pay close attention to their own needs and to value hard work and self-care simultaneously. 

Overall, I aim to develop independent, thoughtful, and passionate students that can move on from my studio with a deeper knowledge of their art and of themselves, and thus can enrich both our musical community and society at large.