I did a little research on Radina and was pleased to learn she was first trained at the Unique Voice Studios – a private school for contemporary music and studied jazz vocals at the Schubert Conservatory in Vienna. For years she has studied with different mix singing teachers and private vocal coaches Romana Caren Lakinger, Sandy Cressman, Monika Ballwein and others and has been mentored by the renowned vocal coach Rocio Guitard in the Bay area, CA. Radina holds a Master of Science Degree from the University of Vienna and speaks English, German, Bulgarian and French. She is an associate teacher and member of IVTOM – International Voice Teachers of Mix. IVTOM is a non-profit organization and network of like-minded teachers of mix singing who continually strive to be the best in their field.
I asked Radina if I may interview her for my readers. I’m delighted she accepted the invitation. I hope you enjoy learning about this talented vocal coach.
Q1. What is the teaching method or style you offer through Vocals-on-Stage? For my readers, would you please describe what this style means or represents?
A1. Sure! In a nutshell, I teach a technique called Mix Singing, which trains singers to smoothly transition from their lower register to their higher register, without changes in their sound quality. We work finding freedom in the voice so that the singer can move freely throughout their whole range.
Q2. You are also a professional singer. What is the story or inspiration behind your choice of music, composers, and compositions? Do you prefer to focus on solos, duets, ensembles or large bands?
A2. I like to incorporate many different styles of music and listen to a variety of music, not only because I teach many different styles of music but also because I like to listen to multiple genres. I don’t have a particular way of finding new music or composers, I just keep my ears open and when I hear something I like, whether it’s on the radio, through someone’s recommendation, at a concert or randomly on the street, I explore it.
For my own music I like to focus on duets but when I listen to music I don’t particularly favor one style over another.
Q3. My students are interested in the latest rehearsal trends, tips, and techniques. For example, as a singer, how do you prefer to mentally and physically prepare for a rehearsal, an audition, a recording gig and a live performance? Do you have a set routine (best days/times)? How long do you usually rehearse to prepare repertoire? How do you prepare for a concert?
A3. When it comes to practice, consistency and focus are key elements. ‘Every single day’! – that’s how often you should practice. For how long? That depends. When I prepare for a tour or for studio recordings I practice more. When I am not touring I practice as much as my teaching schedule allows it, but I still practice every day, even if it is only 20 minutes some days.
My favorite time to practice is in the afternoon but that’s often the time when I teach so I started practicing in the earlier part of the day. It’s best to practice every day at the same time to make it a habit but even if you don’t practice at the same time, it will still be effective.
I also recommend working on your mindset, both in regards to your attitude towards practice and also in regards to your performance abilities. Visualize yourself doing amazing at your concerts, controlling your instrument, playing with ease and having fun with it. This part of the process is tremendously important.
Q4. At what age did you realize you were a musical spirit?
A4. I started playing Cello when I was 6 years old and composed my first songs when I was 12. I don’t remember one particular moment when I realized that I wanted to become a musician. I just have been doing it all my life so that I cannot imagine a life without it.
Q5. Did anyone try to talk you out of fulfilling your dream as a singer or a coach? If so, how did you handle it?
A5. My father was concerned but I wouldn’t say he was trying to talk me out of it. He knows that I’m too stubborn to not follow my dreams. 🙂 There are always people who will ask uncomfortable questions or discourage you from doing what you love but I decided early on in my life that in order for me to be happy, I needed to follow my heart and my passion. It’s a gift that is given to me and I want to share it with the world.
Q6. How old were you when you sang your first professional concert or recording gig? How did you get the gig? Was it through teacher connections or via a professional manager?
A6. I actually organized my first professional concert with a group of singers and musicians. I was approximately 18 years of age and we booked a concert location, advertised and sold 150 tickets. I’m a firm believer of the ‘do it yourself’ principle but it takes a lot of time and work so I am thankful that my career took me to festivals and events which were beyond what I’d be able to organize on my own.
Q7. As a singer, do you currently have a manager? If so, what tasks does a manager handle on your behalf?
A7. My band was signed with management up until 2013. Then we decided to manage ourselves. It is a lot of work to do that but it also gives you the artistic freedom that I enjoy.
Q8. Have you composed works of your own? If so, what style are they in? Will you be recording any of them?
A8. I have written and composed music for my band in the electronic music genre. The band is called Fatmagic. We have released two albums and multiple EP’s so far. Our newest album is coming out in Spring 2018.
Q9. How old were you when you knew you wanted to become a music teacher? Was there any particular person or event that inspired your decision? When did you open Vocals-on-Stage?
A9. I was teaching my first lesson when I was 19 years old. My teachers asked me if I’d be interested in teaching since they thought I had natural teaching abilities. That’s how it all began. The name Vocals-on-Stage has been existing since 2006 but I officially registered the business in 2010 under this name.
Q10. How did you find Pastimes For A Lifetime’s studio? What made you decide to include the studio as one of your teaching locations? What other locations do you offer lessons? Do you provide lessons via Skype or FaceTime?
A10. I found Pastimes For A Limetime through a web search, called the owner Linda and had a great feeling from the beginning on. When I saw the space, I knew it would be a great fit. The atmosphere is very creative and it feels like a safe space. This is what I want for my students.
Yes, I teach online via Skype or FaceTime and in my studio on the Westside in Culver City, CA and of course at the Pastimes for a Lifetime studio in the San Fernando Valley.
Q11. Music can touch people’s lives, bringing happiness and hope. For example, my piano school partners with CoachArt to provide free piano lessons for families impacted by childhood chronic illness. Is there a charity you are fond of or support, that you might like my readers to learn more about?
A11. My band and I are advocates for a plant-based diet and lifestyle (vegan). We sponsor events and perform for charities supporting animal rights and health benefits of Veganism. One particular one is the Veganmania which is an event series around this topic and it takes place every summer in Austria and Germany.
In closing, do you have a favorite quote, mantra or process that you find inspiring or helpful when faced with a creative block, that you would like to share with my readers?
When I am facing a creative block, I like to spend time with myself and take myself on ‘a date’. I recommend finding things which relax you, whether that’s traveling, cooking, driving your car on a secluded road, etc. It’s often in those moments that our inspiration returns and great ideas hit us. Also, don’t judge your work while it is still in the creative phase. Just see what comes out if you let the ideas flow.
Thank you so much for this inspiring interview. I hope my readers enjoyed it as much as I did and might consider enrolling in singing lessons with you someday. I’m sure thinking about it.
To learn more about Radina Veliova, or to schedule an appointment or consultation, please visit her website: http://www.vocals-on-stage.com
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Pastimes For a Lifetime Art and Piano School is located in Valley Glen, California. 818-766-0614. School is open Tuesday – Saturday year round, except major holidays.
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