Regina Zona, Creator and Administrator of Music Lessons Resource
The summer after I graduated from high school, I needed a little extra money. I got a job at Burger King. Yes, Burger King. Every day, as I stood in front of that broiler, throwing frozen burger after frozen burger into it, a little bit of my soul died. After three weeks, my former high school director said to me, “why don’t you teach voice lessons?” I said, “that’s a great idea!” even though I had no idea how to teach voice – I had only taken voice lessons for two years prior to that, mastering the 24 Italian Art Songs and a few favorite operatic arias. Sure, I was leaving for Northwestern University in the fall to begin my Bachelors in Vocal Performance but really, I had no business teaching voice. Still, it was a way to get out of Burger King so I had no choice, right? So my choral director, my biggest supporter, called some of her students and suggested that they take voice lessons with me. I taught kids that I was in Concert Chorale with – their parents actually gave a check every week for my….knowledge. I really should send them back their money today! But that is how it started. I went off to school in the fall and every summer, when I returned home, I had students waiting for me. The Zona Studio was in full swing!
I was always a natural singer – I was blessed with a voice that worked without much help. So while I never had a vocal pedagogy class, teaching forced me to figure out what it was that my voice did naturally and how I could communicate that to a student. I could hear what a student needed but I had to figure out how to communicate it. And I did. I learned through teaching. It took me about 6 or 7 years to figure out my own language and that language continues to evolve, but I learned to teach by teaching. And to this day, I believe that is the way to learn how to teach.
So I went to Northwestern and got my Bachelors determined to be an opera star. I then took a year off and taught privately for a year while I continued to study myself and audition for young artist programs. The following year I started at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia and my opera career started. I have been lucky enough to sing major roles in opera companies around the world and solo with major orchestras. But every time I came home from a gig, I had a full studio of young singers waiting for me.
Fast forward a few years, I was an adjunct at a university in Connecticut, teaching voice and piano, theory and history, directing the show choir and accompanying the choirs. My operatic career had slowed down and I decided that it was time to have some security in my life. That is when I started my doctorate at the Manhattan School of Music. Before I finished the dissertation, I got my first tenure track position teaching voice at Shorter College in Rome, Georgia. I finished my dissertation in my first year of teaching and finally earned the privilege of being called “Dr.” After two years in Georgia, I accepted a position as the Director of Opera Programs at the University of Minnesota Duluth. In the four years that I was there, I directed 6 operas and 5 opera scenes programs, taught a full studio (18-20 students) of classical and musical theatre singers every semester, ran a summer young artist program, musical directed Suessical, taught graduate vocal pedagogy (ironic, since, as I said before, I had never taken a pedagogy class in my life), sang 5 faculty recitals, traveled to South Africa twice for recital tours and served on numerous university-wide committees including chairing the highest university governance committee on campus (how that happened, I’ll never know). After all that, it became clear to me that the world of academia was not for me (that’s a long story and if you really want to know it, ask me and I’ll share a bottle of tequila with you to share it!). So I quit my job (with no prospects in sight, thank you very much!) and moved back to New York.
So now I am back on the east coast, teaching (www.thezonastudio.com), singing (www.reginazona.com), starting a young artist workshop series (www.missionartisticperformance.com) and in my spare time, I design websites (www.toscawebdesign.com)!
I hope you will find this site useful and I look forward to your contributions to it! Do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, thoughts or suggestions for content on the site.