Master of Music from North Park University
Onella started singing at a young age, and loves performing Baroque music, opera and jazz around Chicago and her hometown in Sri Lanka. She loves teaching and believes an enthusiastic and encouraging music environment helps build confidence and progress. Students looking for a playful, goal-oriented, and supportive environment thrive in her studio, whether the lessons are for singing or speech.
Why do you sing?
I sing because it makes me unbelievably happy and it gives me peace. Singing has always been a big part of my life; it helped me grow out of my shell as a child, and even as an adult I find a lot of joy and release in singing.
How do you practice?
I like to first set goals for the practice session. I find it really helps me to stay focused, and stating my main goals gives me something to constantly circle back to. I believe efficiency is key, so I spend about 5 minutes to warm-up with exercises that cover my entire range.
Then, I go through my list of techniques and repertoire to get those techniques into my body. I am a strong believer in short, high-energy practice sessions in order to avoid vocal fatigue. I teach this to my students by having them break up their practice session into three or four blocks of time. Each block of time is dedicated to different concepts and techniques like breath, articulation, body mapping, or pitch.
Why do you teach?
My goal is to help students love their voice. Because singing has given me so much joy, I love sharing that joy with my students and I consider it an honor to embark on the experience together.
What is your favorite teaching tool?
Mirrors! A mirror tells us so many things about what our body is doing during singing and speaking. I also love using imagery to find creative ways to connect to the voice. The image of an anchor or roots of a tree can help to ground you, the feeling of pulling taffy helps develop smooth vocal lines, and my personal favorite is pretending to sit on a magic carpet to help with buoyancy and connectivity in the breath.
What do you do in a first lesson with a student?
The first lesson is all about getting to know you, your voice and your voice history. It helps me shape lessons to fit your needs, set goals, and plan out the best way to help you achieve those goals. I love talking with students about big, overarching goals and smaller, more immediate goals. We then get down to work with exercises for singing voice and/or from One Weird Trick.
How do you describe your lessons?
I tend to fill my lessons with fun and laughter while also encouraging my students to push themselves. We use playful imagery to find deeper personal connection and awareness of the voice so that you can develop new skills with healthy technique and keep things light!