Thursday, December 26, 2013

Open House and Orientation for spring classes

Ever thought about performing?

No matter your age or experience level, if you've ever thought about performing on stage, you're invited to attend our upcoming open house!

Come learn more about our classes in dancetheater and music at the Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center in downtown Tampa.

The Conservatory’s spring session begins on Jan. 13, 2013, with classes for adults and children of all ages and skill levels. Learn more about our adult acting and dance classes, group guitar and jazz classes , private lessonship hop dance, children's and teen choirs and much more! Most classes include performance opportunities in the spring.

The open houses will include light refreshments, tours of the Conservatory and orientation sessions which provide students and parents the opportunity to meet the staff, learn more about our programs and ask questions.

For your convenience, there are two open house dates from which to choose:

Tues., Jan. 7, 2013
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Orientation at 6:30 p.m.

Sat., Jan. 11, 2013
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Orientation at 10 a.m. and noon

Tours will be available before and after each orientation session.

To RSVP for the open house, please click here.

Also on Tues., Jan. 7, the Conservatory’s music department will have auditions for their vocal arts, jazz and chamber music programs; and the theater department will have auditions for Oklahoma! RSVP is required.

For more information, or to RSVP for auditions, please call 813.222.1002 or email

NGB dancers shine in Up Close and Personal

Come see tomorrow’s dance stars perform their Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) competition pieces in a preview showing this Friday that will be Up Close and Personal!

Courtney Gunsteens and Tanner Bleck.
YAGP is the world’s largest student ballet competition. It provides students with the opportunity to receive scholarships to some of the world’s most prestigious ballet schools. Former NGB students are currently training at the Royal Ballet School in London, the Stuttgart Ballet School and others, through scholarships won at YAGP.

The Tampa semi-finals will be Jan. 2 - 5, 2014 at the Straz Center.

NGB, a pre-professional company, is home to some of the best dancers in the country, many of whom have moved from around the nation to Tampa Bay to train at the Patel Conservatory as a launching pad for their ballet careers.

More than thirty of our NGB dancers will compete in the YAGP 2014 Tampa semi-finals. They’ll perform classical and contemporary solos, as well as a pas de deux and an ensemble piece.

Don't miss the chance to see this young talent at the cusp of their careers and learn a bit of their back story as NGB Artistic Director Peter Stark introduces them to the audience.

Up Close and Personal
A Showcase of Tampa’s Top Dance Talent
TECO Theater, Straz Center

Friday, Dec 27 5:30 to 7:30 (Late seating available at 6:30)
$8 at the door only – box office to open at 4:30

For more information, contact the dance department at

NGB dancers compete in YAGP 2014 Tampa semi-finals

Congratulations and good luck to our Next Generation Ballet (NGB) dancers who will compete next week in the Tampa semi-finals of the Youth America Grand Prix, the world’s largest student ballet competition.

Students who qualify at regional semi-finals will go on to the prestigious final YAGP competition in New York City in April, 2014.

The following NGB dancers will compete:

Alexandria Marx
Brittany Broussard
Carolynn Rowland
Chandler Hammond
Christopher Kunzelmann
Claire Ashcraft
Corbin Panturad
Courtney Gunsteens
Ethan Fuller
Florrie Geller
Hannah Stanford
Jaison McClendon
Janaya Zimmerman
Jarod Curley
John Hewitt
Jordan Martinez
Julia Meister
Katherine Hodges
Kennedy Falyn Cassada
Kyra McDonald
Levi Durie
Lexa Armstrong
Liam Boswell
Lyric Mendez
Neal Burks
Olivia Gusti
Olivia Cassady
Tanner Bleck
Taylor Barrett
Tessa Hartmann
Treyden Chiaravalloti

Ensemble piece also includes:

Alex Schmidt
Audrey Shaw
Autumn Kilby
Christine Schmidt
Emily Schmitt
Hailey Cherry
Katarina Smith
Kenzie Martin
Leo McGrath
Nicole Langway
Nigel Tau
Tracey Payne

Come see their competition pieces at a preview showing tomorrow night only! Click here for details.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Vocal Arts students spread holiday cheer

Heartfelt thanks to our Vocal Arts students for spreading holiday cheer throughout the community this season.
Vocal Arts student perform before The Nutcracker

Students in our junior and senior choirs provided carols in the Silbiger lobby at the Straz Center prior to each performance of Next Generation’s Ballet’s The Nutcracker.

They also provided caroling for the Egypt Shriners Children’s Christmas party, the Tampa Rotary Club’s holiday breakfast and Pilot Bank’s holiday party.

These are recent examples of the many performance opportunities our students enjoy through their study here.

Auditions are coming up for our spring Vocal Arts classes. For more information about our spring classes, please click here, or call 813.222.1002.

Season’s Greetings from our Patel Conservatory family to yours!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Free Rock School workshop in January

Rock School is gearing up for spring!

The Patel Conservatory’s Rock School program will host a free workshop in January.

In Rock School, students are put into bands based on instrument, musical tastes and age, then work with instructors who show them how to really rock out!

Students who participate in our workshop will get the opportunity to work with professional musicians, Dean Tidey and Paul Stoddart, and vocal coach Deborah Lynch.

Tidey, who has a publishing deal with George Martin Music, writes, produces and plays guitar for the Muddy Apes. Previously, Tidey played guitar for ten years with the acclaimed English rock band, Feeder.

Stoddart has taught guitar and music theory/arrangement/songwriting for more than two decades. He has played in, written for and arranged music for several bands around the country and plays tours throughout the Tampa Bay area with his four piece ensemble.

Lynch served as a music director, accompanist, vocal coach and performer in Richmond, Va. before moving to Tampa and joining the Patel Conservatory as the staff accompanist. Among many other things, she has taught high school chorus, was a soloist for The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in their masterworks concerts with the Richmond Symphony, and has assisted with District Chorus festivals.

The free workshop will be Jan. 4 at 11 a.m. To RSVP, please call 813.222.1002.

Following the workshop, students will be able to audition for the spring Rock School program. Auditions allow instructors to place students in bands appropriate for their age and skill levels.

Rock School audition dates are:

Sat., Jan. 4, from noon-1 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 6, from 5-7 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 7, from 6-8 p.m.

There is a $15 audition fee. Instruments and cords are required. A drum set, amps and keyboards will be provided. Vocalists can now audition without an instrument. 

Returning Rock School students do not need to audition but there is a $10 returning student fee. If you were in the spring or summer Rock School session, please fill out the Returning Student Form.

For more information or to RSVP for an audition, please e-mail, or call 813.222.1002.

Conservatory student in A Thousand Clowns

Congratulations to Patel Conservatory theater student Hannah Anton, who landed a role in the Hat Trick Theatre production of A Thousand Clowns.

Hannah Anton, left, with co-star
Ned Averill-Snell
Anton, 13, started at the Conservatory as a violin student and has been studying theater for the past four years.

“It’s a really good learning environment,” said Anton. “The staff and teachers, they want you to succeed. They want to help you get to where you want to be."

Anton had roles in the Conservatory productions of Alice in Wonderland, Jr., Once Upon a Mattress, The Music Man, Jr. and, most recently as Eidophea, the goddess of the sea, in The Odyssey.

The director of A Thousand Clowns noticed Anton’s performance in The Odyssey and invited her to audition.

The Hat Trick production is her first professional role, but Anton feels her experience at the Conservatory prepared her.

“It helped me know how the theater world works, the etiquette, how rehearsals go, and, how to act,” she said.

“I love the rehearsal process, working with other actors, and trying to discover another character. And when you’re on stage, there’s just this kind of rush.”

In A Thousand Clowns, Anton plays Nicki, a girl who lives with her Uncle Murray in New York City.

“Murray’s a different kind of person. He’s not a 9 to 5 job kind of person,” she said.

When a social worker comes knocking, Murray must learn how to conform to society in order to permanently adopt Nicki.
A Thousand Clowns runs through this weekend at the Shimberg Playhouse at the Straz Center.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Auditions for spring music programs

by Paige Strott, Marketing Assistant

This spring the Patel Conservatory is offering a wide variety of music ensembles, and soon we'll be auditioning students for the opportunity to be part of them.

The Vocal Arts Junior and Senior Ensembles will be having auditions on Mon., Jan. 6, from 5-6:30 p.m. and Tues., Jan. 7, from 6-8 p.m.

Vocal Arts will be performing music of Rodgers and Hammerstein and Michael Jackson for their spring concerts, so you do not want to miss out on the chance to audition!

For the audition, students should prepare a short song or excerpt about 16 measures or 30 seconds to sing, preferably with sheet music. An accompanist will be provided. To schedule your audition, email Kavan Gillespie at

The Chamber Music Ensemble audition will be on Tues., Jan. 7, from 5-7 p.m.

Students in 7th grade through college are placed into chamber ensembles based on their ability levels. They’ll study chamber music of various composers, periods and styles and learn repertoire appropriate for their ability level. For an audition appointment, email

Auditions for the jazz ensemble will be held Tues., Jan. 7, from 6-8 p.m.

In this class, students receive instruction in improvisation, ensemble playing and elements of music needed for performing jazz. For an audition appointment, email

Rock School auditions will be Jan. 4, 6 and 7. For more information, click here.

All auditions require a $15 audition fee.

For more information about our spring music programs, please call 813.222.1002 or visit

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Conservatory student pays it forward

A sincere thank you goes out to the Greenway family for their recent contribution to our Wish Tree!

When Julie Greenway saw the Patel Conservatory’s Wish Tree in our TECO Lobby, she asked her daughter Amanda to pick an ornament to donate.

Amanda could have chosen anything from whiteboard markers to an iTunes gift card, but she picked one of the biggest items on the tree, a large star marked with a $250 scholarship.

“I wanted to give the most that I could,” said Amanda, who has taken classes in the Conservatory’s ballet program and now takes piano lessons with Jill Sentif.

“It’s good to give back,” she said.

Amanda said she appreciates the Conservatory’s facilities and instructors and wanted to help others enjoy the same opportunities she’s had.

Thanks, Amanda!

All donations for our Scholarship Stars directly supports students in our classrooms. The Conservatory awards more than $200,000 a year in scholarships and financial aid thanks to the generous support of individuals, foundations and businesses.

Be sure to visit our Wish Tree in TECO Lobby and see how you can give back to the Conservatory this holiday season!

Spotlight on Davin Norman

When Davin Norman started in the Rock School program at the Patel Conservatory, he never would have imagined himself playing jazz music.
Davin Norman, front, performs with the Patel
Conservatory's jazz quartet.

“I was a metal head,” said Davin, who now plays bass guitar with the Conservatory’s jazz quartet.

Davin will perform with the quartet in the Conservatory’s Jazz Jamm concert this Friday.

Prior to joining Rock School four years ago, Davin had taken guitar lessons at Paragon Music for a couple of years.

“When my dad mentioned Rock School, I got really excited,” said Davin. He connected with fellow bandmate Parker Wilkson.

“Parker introduced me to jazz, and my appreciation for jazz music rose immensely,” said Davin.

Davin joined Parker in our now popular jazz quartet. The talented ensemble quickly gained popularity and has been asked to perform around town numerous times, including at the Straz Center’s recent Broadway Ball.

“It’s a lot of fun. I get to improvise and trade off solos,” he said. “It’s actually harder than rock. It involves a lot of skill.”

In addition to playing with the jazz quartet, he continues to play with his Rock School band, Nfin8. The band performed at the Gasparilla Music Festival earlier this year and other venues.

Davin is now a freshman at the University of Tampa majoring in information systems, with a minor in music.

He says being in the Conservatory’s rock and jazz programs has helped him improve his music skills. He enjoys working with jazz instructor Matt Weihmuller.

“It’s fun working with Matt. He’s a genius with music and amazing at what he does,” said Davin.

“If anyone wants to learn more about rock or jazz music, they should try a class at the Conservatory. It’s taught me a lot. It’s just been a fun ride.”

The Conservatory will have music placement auditions for spring classes in vocal arts, rock, jazz and chamber music. For more information, click here or call 813-222-1002.

Check out all of our jazz students in the Jazz Jamm concert Fri., Dec. 6, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. in TECO Theater. For tickets, click here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Give back. Check out the Conservatory's holiday Wish List!

As the holidays approach, we’re reminded of the giving spirit of the season. Caring for others is as much a part of the season as turkey and presents under the tree.

This holiday season, you can give back to the Patel Conservatory by choosing an ornament on our Wish Tree in TECO Lobby.

From iTunes and Home Depot gift cards to hand sanitizer, the Conservatory’s wish list items will directly benefit the teachers in our classrooms.

Consider giving an item from our Wish Tree in lieu of holiday gifts for the teacher this year.

Help our teachers purchase songs for classes with an iTunes gift card. Help our production department purchase materials for sets and classroom supplies, including lumber, spike tape and Marley tape with Visa or Home Depot gift cards. Or, support our outreach program by contributing to the cost of ballet shoes for students in the dance classes at Metropolitan Ministries.

You can also help a student’s dreams come true by contributing to our Scholarship Stars!

Every gift, no matter the amount, contributes to the Conservatory’s ability to keep excellent performing arts education accessible for all.

As you do your holiday shopping, add one of the following items to your list:

iTunes gift card (all teachers)
Visa gift card (Marley tape for dance floors, spike tape, etc.)
Home Depot gift cards (building sets and classroom maintenance)
Gift card for Sam Ash or Paragon Music (Rock School supplies)
$20 donation (to underwrite cost of ballet shoes for Metropolitan Ministries students)
$25 - $250 donation for our Scholarship Stars (to help underwrite our financial assistance and scholarship program)
Macbook batteries (4) and power cords (4) (model #: A1185 10.8V) 
New MacBook (for video editing and production needs)
Expo markers (all classrooms)
Tissues, ice packs and band-aids (all classrooms)

All gifts directly support the Patel Conservatory's efforts in our classrooms, on our stages and throughout the community.

When you contribute an item on our Wish Tree, we’ll put your name, or your student’s name, on the tree!

Simply choose an item on our Wish Tree in TECO Lobby, purchase the gift, then turn it in to the registrar in the Chairmen’s Library or Student Life office by Dec. 21, 2013.

For questions or more information, contact us at 813.222.1002 or

Friday, November 22, 2013

Save the date for the 2014 Spotlight Awards

Mark your calendars now for the 2014 Spotlight Awards!

May 20, 2014
6:30 Performance
8 p.m. Dinner and dancing

This end-of-the year show will recognize outstanding students and feature the best performances from the Patel Conservatory’s 2013/14 season.

After the performance, enjoy dinner and dancing for the entire family.

This year, the evening will include a silent auction, and a drawing for the chance to win a trip for four to New York City!

Proceeds from the Spotlight Awards supports our classes, scholarships and outreach programs.

The Conservatory provides more than $250,000 in scholarships and financial aid each year. In addition, we provide performing arts classes for deserving schools and organizations throughout the community. Tuition and ticket sales only cover 65% of our overall costs. We rely on the generosity of individuals, companies and private foundations to bridge the gap.

Help us continue to enrich the lives of thousands of children, both in our classrooms and throughout Tampa Bay.

For more information on sponsorship opportunities, program ads, and silent auction donations, or to volunteer for the event, contact Beth Miller at 813-222-6425 or

Give the gift to dream, reach, discover and create. Support the Patel Conservatory’s 2014 Spotlight Awards.

Spotlight on Julia Powell

Julia Powell, left, performs at a Rock School Blowout concert.
Fourteen-year-old Julia Powell is a longtime student at the Patel Conservatory.

"My favorite thing about the Patel Conservatory is the music program...I think it's individualized to the person, plus there are a lot of classes," said Julia.

She started in the theater program when she was young, and has participated in Rock School for the past two years as a guitarist and a vocalist. 

“I like Rock School because I want to be a musician and it’s given me an image of what it’s going to be like,” she said.

This year, she’s also taking the new Voice Rocks! (VOX) class. The class has given her the opportunity to focus on vocal training in the style of music she enjoys.

“The vocals are my favorite part of performing. I enjoy the VOX program because it allows me to have more individualized attention.”

VOX teacher Deborah Lynch enjoys having Julia in her class. Dee teaches a number of classes at the Patel Conservatory and helps coordinate our Rock School Program. 

“Julia is soft-spoken, gracious and attentive,” said Lynch. “She possesses a thirst for knowledge that is reflected in her participation in the Conservatory's Rock music programs. She brings a lovely spirit to her classes!”

This weekend, Julia will perform in the Rock School Blowout concert. She’ll play two songs with her Rock School band, the Mellow Strawberries, as well as Green Day’s hit Time of Your Life, which will be her first solo performance.

The concert will be Sat., Nov. 23 at 1 p.m. in the Jaeb Theater. Tickets are still $5 through today, and $7 on the day of the show.

For more information about the Rock School Blowout or the VOX class, contact us at 813-222-1002 or visit our website.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Auditions for spring musicals

by Paige Strott, Patel Conservatory Marketing Assistant

The Patel Conservatory Theater (PCT) is gearing up for auditions for their spring shows!

The shows are performance-based production classes, in which students can put into practice the skills they gain in the classroom. They’ll build theater, music and dance skills while participating in a nurturing yet demanding rehearsal process that culminate in ticketed performances, which are open to the public.

Joust! A Mighty Medieval Musical

On Nov. 23, PCT will have auditions for students in grades 2-4 for the performance of Joust! A Mighty Medieval Musical.

Directed by Patel Conservatory theater instructor Audrey Siegler, the show is the tale of medieval knights who decide to put down their weapons and pick up instruments instead.

Rehearsals begin in January and performance dates are Feb. 27 through Mar. 8. 

Auditions will be held on this Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013 from 10 a.m. to noon. Students should prepare 16 bars of a song and a 30- to 60-second monologue, or use the ones provided here: audition sample song audition sample monologue

Oklahoma! auditions are also coming up and are sure to bring in some fantastic talent.

This Rogers and Hammerstein musical classic will be put on in the spring. Rehearsals begin in January, with performance in May.

Auditions are open to students in grade five through adult, and will take place Wed., Dec. 11 and Tues., Jan. 7, at 5:30 p.m.

Please prepare 16 bars of a song from a traditional musical in your range. 

For both auditions remember to dress ready to dance!

For more information or to schedule an audition or for either show, please contact the theater department at 813.222.6414 or

We hope to see you there!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

New cafe opens at the Straz Center!

Exciting news for Patel Conservatory families in need of sustenance or a caffeine fix... a new coffee shop on site!

SteamHeat Cafe opens today at the Straz Center, just in time for the first performance of The Book of Mormon.

The former retail space near the ticket sales office is now a sleek coffee shop featuring coffee by Tampa’s Buddy Brew Coffee.

SteamHeat Cafe offers a menu of light fare such as Panini, salads and desserts, as well as a full menu of coffee beverages.

The cafe is open from 5 to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Tell us what you think of the new digs!