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Dr. Courtney Crouse

Dr. Courtney Crouse

Dr. Courtney Crouse,
Professor of Voice
Voice
School of Music
Early Music Summer Institute

Biography

Dr. Courtney Crouse has been trained by the world famous soprano, Carol Vaness, and with one of America’s leading vocal pedagogues, Paul Kiesgen. She is a Professor of Voice at Oklahoma City University, teaching there since 2012. She was an Assistant Instructor of Voice at America’s largest operatic training ground, Indiana University, and has taught private lessons throughout the United States for over 20 years.

Teaching Philosophy

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 original goal as a teacher: to inspire students to BE MORE, to be brighter, stronger, more alive, more passionate people than they ever imagined. I still hold to this statement, but I now temper it with a striving for balance, emotionless self-awareness, a healthy mind, healthy habits, discipline, and courage. 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 hypo-functioning. Recently, I have added an overarching goal in my teaching of fear finding; finding the impulse of fear or doubt and searching for its root causes. This has become a magic key 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 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 a result that sounds good. Result driven work causes psychological and physical vocal issues. Replacing a result driven attitude with a process oriented one has also been a key to helping my students succeed.

Contemplation of how fear can rule us and can keep us from our true selves has led me to hone in on another word, focus. If a student can clearly focus on one technical aspect without any noise or negative chatter entering the brain, then that skill becomes more accessible. Focus removes fear from the equation. If a student cannot focus the mind in a vocalization how can they focus in a high stress situation? Using focus to conquer fear along with understanding any underlying psychological and physical challenges leads a student to trust that technique can carry them through the trials of a life of performing.

At the end of collegiate study, it is my hope that students will have gained tools and strategies that help them trust in the training, and trust that they now have the skills, technical, mental, and physical for a successful and happy life in the arts, wherever that road leads them.

My happy life in the arts comes from continuing to grow and learn from my students. They are gifts and help me become a better teacher and performer. I look forward to seeing how my philosophy develops throughout my life.