Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pre-school classes teach lessons that last a lifetime

If you think toddlers in our preschool classes like Tots and Tunes are just having fun, think again.

Preschoolers enrolled in our music, theater and dance classes at Tampa's Patel Conservatory are not only having a great time, they’re actually learning developmental skills that will help them for the rest of their lives.

Learning to play an instrument, for example, helps reinforce self-discipline and confidence as kids realize the rewards of consistent practice, said Catherine Michelsen, Associate Conductor of the Patel Conservatory Youth Orchestra.

"The necessary concentration and attention to detail (required for learning) any instrument, transfers to anything in life," said Michelsen.

She added that kids learn social skills and team-building when playing together in an ensemble, which is true for all arts education including dance and theater.

According to the Children’s Music Workshop, a resource for music educators, “Students of the arts learn to think creatively and to solve problems by imagining various solutions.”

Whether kids are banging on a drum or acting out a story, exploring music and movement helps children develop important language, coordination and critical thinking skills.

“...brain development continues for many years after birth,” the site says. “Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language...

Some indications even show that students who study the arts are more successful on standardized tests such as the SAT, according to the site.

At the Patel Conservatory, we offer classes for kids as young as two years old. Through our Tots and Tunes, Dress Up and Dance, and Creative Drama classes, preschoolers can start developing an appreciation for the arts and a solid foundation for future academic success.

Preschool classes in music, theater, and dance offer fun and learning! Fall classes begin Sept. 4! Online registration is available.

For more information on the benefits of music and arts education, check out this helpful link: Music Advocacy’s Top Ten for Parents.

To learn more about registering for classes at the Patel Conservatory in Tampa, please call 813-222-1002, or visit

New theater class offers unique opportunities

The Patel Conservatory announces a new opportunity for young theater professionals and pre-professionals.

Theater for Young Audiences (TYA) is a new class at the Conservatory that offers acting students the chance to educate and entertain kids.

“In my career as a performer and director for young audiences, I have come across many artists who think children’s theater is something you do until you get a real gig,” said Ami Sallee, theater chair at the Patel Conservatory, who helped create the new class.

Sallee has found that creating theater experiences for children has been a rewarding experience for both the children who are entertained and the performers themselves.

“As an artist in children’s theater, you’re not just a performer, you’re an educator, and that’s a responsibility I take very seriously,” said Sallee.

To that end, the TYA class was designed to train young artists to be well-rounded, high quality children’s theater professionals.

In the class, students will work along with Conservatory theater apprentices to create and teach educational workshops and shows for elementary and middle school aged kids.

Training will include researching and developing study guides, and work with our faculty to create and teach educational workshops to coincide with the Field Trip, Kid Time and Wee Folk series shows that tour through the Straz Center. Students will also work side-by-side with our theater faculty at events such as Day at the Straz, Broadway Family Night or other events.

The TYA group will also work with a professional playwright to write and produce an original play. They’ll take it through the production process from rehearsals to the stage.

In the spring, they'll perform the show for young audiences, both for the public and at area schools.

“The goal is become a pre-professional theater company that will eventually have its own name,” said Sallee.

The TYA class is a great opportunity for budding artists to gain professional experience in their craft and understand the relationship between education and the arts.

Theater for Young Audiences is intended for students in grades 11 through adults. For registration or more information, please call us at 813-222-1002.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Get a behind-the-scenes look at upcoming shows at the Straz

Ever watch a live performance and wonder what went into it, how the actors made it work or the history of the music?
The Patel Conservatory and the Straz Center invite you to attend a new, informal class called Who Knew?

Led by Maestro Stephen P. Brown, the class is an opportunity to learn more about concerts, Broadway musicals and other events at the Straz before you see the show. 

Discuss the music, study the script or chat with professionals involved in the performance.

Who Knew will be
Tuesdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

The Fall 2012 schedule for the Who Knew class is as follows:

Sept. 4 - Fahrenheit 451
Sept. 18 - Latin Nights
Oct. 16 - Sibelius
Oct. 23 - Jekyll and Hyde
Oct. 30 - Gershwin
Nov. 6 - Dvorak
Nov. 13 - Kiss Me, Kate
Nov. 20 - Elf
Nov. 27 - Idina Menzel
Dec. 4 - Schubert
Dec. 11 - Sister Act
Dec. 18 - The Nutcracker

The cost is $65 for a 5-class card, or $120 for a 10-class card. No registration is required. Classes are held on a drop-in basis so you can attend the classes that interest you and work for your schedule.

For more information, please call 813-222-1002.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Patel Conservatory hosts Orchestra Festival for area schools

Carol Morsani Hall at the Straz Center

The Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center
announces the
October 9, 2012

In celebration of contemporary and classical music, Tampa Bay area youth orchestras are invited to attend a day at the Straz. 

It’s your chance to perform with your high school or middle school orchestra on stage in the majestic Carol Morsani Hall at the Straz Center!

Students will gain inspiration and solid instruction as they participate in master classes with professional musicians. All groups will also attend individual and massed orchestra rehearsals.

The event will culminate in a collaborative performance in Carol Morsani Hall. Each school orchestra will perform three to four works of their choice, followed by a spectacular group finale conducted by Stephen P. Brown, principal conductor of the Patel Conservatory Youth Orchestra.

This unique educational and performance experience is a great way to kick off your season! Network with other organizations and learn from one another as we foster a sense of community.

Students will have fun and grow as individual musicians and as an ensemble.

All Tampa Bay area school orchestras are encouraged to attend. Registration is due by September 1, 2012. If your school group is interested, please call 813-222-1002.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Spotlight on Katlyn Iacovino

Katlyn Iacovino always enjoyed singing. When she was little, she sang around the house, and when she got to middle school, she joined her school choir.

It wasn’t until high school though that Katlyn began thinking seriously about becoming a professional singer.

As a freshman at Riverview High School, she met a senior who was interested in opera.

“I thought that was very unusual and she was a big inspiration to me,” said Katlyn, 17, now starting her senior year at Riverview.

Last year, she began looking for music programs to study voice and she found the Patel Conservatory in Tampa.

“The whole experience of being there overwhelmed me in a good way. I felt everyone was very supportive of each other,” she said.

She started at the Conservatory with private voice lessons with music chair, Gregory Ruffer.

“I realized if I want to take this seriously, I need to take that next step,” said Katlyn. “Working with Greg helped me learn more about myself and what I can do. I was challenged more.”

She joined the Conservatory’s senior choir, and, in May, was the recipient of the Patel Conservatory’s Spotlight Award for Outstanding Student Achievement in Music.

Katlyn says that being at the Conservatory has provided her with exceptional opportunities to study and train with talented professionals and students alike.

“It opened me up to new experiences beyond what I could imagine,” she said.

Last year, she was chosen to be part of the Opera Tampa Chorus, and, this past summer, she participated in the Conservatory’s Classical Voice Intensive during which she took master classes with world renowned instructors including Beverley Rinaldi and Mark Lubas.

The Classical Voice Intensive “was the best experience ever. I got to work with kids my age and grad students and undergraduate students. It was like a glimpse of what it would be like to be in college focusing on music,” she said. “The group was absolutely amazing and so supportive.”

This fall, she intends to take a musical theater class to try something different and get more performance experience. She recently auditioned for PCYT’s production of Kiss Me, Kate.

“Being at the Conservatory six days a week, I’ve discovered this is my niche, this is what I want.”

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Class cards offer flexibility for adults

You’re a busy adult with work, kids and family obligations, a mile-long list of things to do, and a host of commitments pulling you in different directions.

Fortunately, with the class cards at the Patel Conservatory in Tampa, you don’t have to sacrifice personal time just for you!

Escape from reality and explore your creativity at a time that suits your schedule with our Class Card and Reel Deal Card.

Class cards are available for adults and college students for dance classes and the new  class, Who Knew? Rather than register for one class, try them all by purchasing a class card, which allows you to attend any dance or Who Knew? class.

More than 80 people took advantage of our class cards over the summer, said Melissa Fortman, registrar at the Patel Conservatory.

“A lot of people who travel for their jobs or have family commitments enjoy the freedom of the Class Cards because they have the ability to drop in when it’s convenient for them,” said Fortman.

She points out that it’s also a great option for those who simply want variety.

“A lot of our adult dance students took dance when they were young. As they get back into it, they want to try different styles of classes, like ballet, hip hop and jazz,” she said.

Class Cards are $65 for a 5-class card, or $120 for a 10-class card.

They may be used for the following:
  • Who Knew? This new class is a great way to learn about concerts, Broadway musicals or other events at the Straz Center. Discuss the music, study the script or chat with professionals involved in the performance for a behind-the-scenes look at how shows and concerts are produced. Who Knew? classes are available on a drop-in basis only. Topics to be announced throughout the year.
  • Community Dance Classes Get your body moving and alleviate stress with one of our community dance classes.  Choose from ballet, contemporary, hip hop, tap, jazz and flamenco.

New this fall! We are now offering a Reel Deal card for our On-Camera Acting class.

The on-camera acting class helps students improve audition techniques and develop honesty on camera through exercises in improvisation, Meisner Technique and character development. Gain confidence and strengthen your acting skills, and prepare for professional auditions and bookings.

The class is offered Tuesdays from 7 to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 3 to 5 p.m.

The Reel Deal card is available for the Saturday classes only, and allows students to drop in when it’s convenient for them.

The Real Deal Card is $65 for a 5-class card and $120 for a 10-class card.

For more information about the Class Cards and Reel Deal cards, please call 813-222-1002.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Spotlight on Catherine Michelsen

Catherine Michelsen, Associate Conductor
of the Patel Conservatory Youth Orchestra
As a little girl, Catherine Michelsen had taken piano lessons for years.

But her musical journey took on a new direction when she was saw a student violin performance at her elementary school.

“I saw a Suzuki in the Schools group perform. Watching them play together, I was mesmerized by it,” said Michelsen.

She soon began taking violin lessons and it wasn’t long before Michelsen knew she’d major in music and become a professional violinist.

Michelsen is now the Associate Conductor of the Patel Conservatory Youth Orchestras (PCYO), String Specialist and a Suzuki-trained violin instructor. She's also a performer who has played frequently with the Florida Orchestra, Opera Tampa, the Orlando Philharmonic and many other professional orchestras.

While she’s always had a passion for music and violin, she didn’t realize she wanted to become a teacher until she took a Suzuki training class while at the Boston Conservatory working on a master’s degree in violin performance.

“When I did my first Suzuki training in 2003, I had taught private lessons before, but I hadn’t taught small children or started students on first lessons...The idea of totally starting from scratch with kids as young as three was a little scary.”

But the Suzuki method clicked with Catherine and she continued her training throughout her years of pursuing another graduate degree and a doctorate degree.

The goal of Suzuki (violin) training is “to make better human beings through music,” explained Catherine.

She feels that music lessons help children learn to focus, especially in today’s society where children are often overbooked with activities from the time they’re in preschool.

“The necessary concentration and attention to detail for Suzuki violin, or any instrument, transfers to anything in life,” she said.

Working in tandem with the parents, Catherine feels that Suzuki violin lessons provide consistency, discipline and rewarding social benefits for kids.

“The idea is that children learn to play an instrument the way they learn to speak...through repetition and continually building on their vocabulary, or repertoire,” said Catherine.

As they grow with the program, kids gain valuable skills through joining an orchestra.

“Playing in an ensemble adds a whole new dimension to music lessons. You have to be aware of everyone else’s parts, not just your own, and you have to get used to seeing a conductor in front of you.”

As the associate conductor of PCYO, Catherine prides herself on the personal attention given to our students.

“I started with the goal of trying to get to know every student and working with them individually,” she said. “I feel like I have a great rapport with the students and the parents. It’s become like a family."

Being in private music lessons or a youth orchestra can be a big time and financial commitment, but, she says, “It’s absolutely worth it. In the end, whether that’s in elementary school, high school or college, the journey stays with you.”

Free music class for Patel Conservatory students

The Patel Conservatory in Tampa has added a free class for our students.

Fundamentals of Music begins this fall for grade 4 through Adult, and is free for youth and high school students registered in another class at the Conservatory.  

This is a great class for adults who've always wanted to learn more about music, or for parents of music students want to speak their kids' language. There is a fee for adult students.

It's also the perfect supplement for Rock School, musical theater or beginning voice students.

The class will cover the basics of music reading, terminology and notation, and may even be eligible for academic credit. The Patel Conservatory is accredited by the same organization as Hillsborough County Public Schools.

Academic credit may be available for many classes taken at the Conservatory in dance, music and theater. Prior approval from your school is required.

For a full list of more than 100 performing arts classes for all ages and skill levels, please see our online brochure or click here.

Auditions for fall music classes

The Patel Conservatory in downtown Tampa will hold auditions this week for its fall music classes.

Did you know that the Patel Conservatory is accredited by the same organization as Hillsborough County Public Schools?

Academic credit may be available for classes taken at the Conservatory. Prior approval from your school is required.

Auditions are required for placement in the appropriate level classes for the following music programs:

Rock School
Mon., Aug. 13, 5 - 8 p.m.
Tues., Aug. 14, 5 - 8 p.m.
Wed., Sept. 5, 5 to 8 p.m.
Instrument and cords required (drum set, amps and keyboards provided). If you are auditioning as a vocalist, you must audition on an instrument as well. Rock School students returning after a one-semester or more absence must audition.

Patel Conservatory Youth Orchestra
For Prelude Strings, Intermezzo String Orchestra and Patel Conservatory Chamber Orchestra. Conducted by Stephen Brown, Associate Conductor, Catherine Michelsen.
Mon., Aug. 13, 5:30-8 p.m.
Tues., Aug. 14, 5:30-8 p.m.
Wed., Aug. 15, 5:30-8 p.m.

For additional information on audition requirements, click here.

Pit Orchestra
Aug. 13-15, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Be a part of the live orchestra ensemble for PCYT’s fall production of Kiss Me, Kate!

All auditions require a $15 audition fee. To schedule an audition appointment, please email or call 813.222.1002.

To supplement your ensemble experience, private lessons are encouraged on your instrument. For information on private lessons, please click here.

New this fall: Fundamentals of Music, a free class for students enrolled in a Patel Conservatory music class. Click here for more info.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Theater auditions for Kiss Me, Kate and fall classes

The Patel Conservatory Theater department will have auditions for their fall theater classes, as well as their production of the popular musical, Kiss Me, Kate.

Auditions will be:

August 11, 2012
1 to 4 p.m.
August 22, 2012 (Note date change)
5 to 8 p.m.

Auditions for fall classes are for students in grades 2 through college, and allow instructors to place students in the most appropriate class for their age and skill levels. 

General auditions start at 1 p.m and participants will take three 45-minute classes in dance, music and theater. You’ll receive class placement immediately following the audition.

To audition for Kiss Me, Kate, please come prepared with a 30-second monologue and 16 bars of a song, preferably a traditional musical theater song. Bring sheet music if possible, an accompanist will be available.

PCYT’s fall production of Kiss Me, Kate will be performed by advanced students in grades 7 through college who are enrolled in a Patel Conservatory theater class. There is a $15 audition fee for new or lapsed students.

This play-within-a-play is a fun, melodious and sophisticated musical, with music and lyrics by Cole Porter.

Students in the show will participate in an advanced performance-based program that allows them to put into practice the skills they gain in the classroom. The rehearsal process is both nurturing and demanding and culminates in a series of ticketed performances open to the public.

Kiss Me, Kate will be performed in the TECO Theater at the Patel Conservatory Nov. 8 - 10, 2012 and Nov. 15 - 17, 2012.

Reservations are required for all auditions. To reserve your audition slot, please call our theater department at 813.222.6414 or visit

(Kiss Me, Kate will be performed with live accompaniment by Patel Conservatory advanced music students. To learn more about auditions for the Kiss Me, Kate Pit Orchestra and other music programs, click here.)