Keely Sibilia – Voice Lessons, Guitar, Piano

Voice, Piano, Guitar and Ukulele
B.M. in Jazz Vocal Performance
Rock, Pop, Classical, Musical Theater
Studio and In-Home Lessons

12366236_10156334730320344_8917702174803786712_nI am a professional singer/songwriter originally from Los Angeles currently residing in Philadelphia. I graduated from The University of the Arts in 2012 with a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Vocal Performance. In addition to songwriting, I also specialize in singing Jazz, Pop, Indie, Classical, Rock, and Musical Theater. I have over 15 years of vocal experience, and over 6 years of teaching private instruction in voice, songwriting, guitar, piano, percussion, and ukulele. I also have experience teaching music in group environments, using collaborative and creative approaches. I have had the pleasure of performing at Carnegie Hall, The Sidney Opera House, Preservation Hall, The Kimmel Center, and various venues throughout Los Angeles, such as House of Blues, The Hotel Cafe, The Viper Room, Molly Malone’s and more. I recently won a 3 month long vocal competition in Philadelphia, entitled, Songbird: Search for Philly’s Best Singer. When teaching, my approach is to focus on the student’s needs and reach goals that he or she is focused on. I gear lessons towards broadening the student’s mind, and am open to all forms of creating art. I currently teach group music classes, voice for all levels, and piano and guitar (beginner/intermediate levels).

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When did you begin playing music, and why?:
I began singing when I started speaking. Cheesy but true. My vocal lessons started around 8 years old and a year or 2 before that was when I was introduced to piano lessons. I was eventually introduced to guitar a couple years later by my dad, and opened up to other instruments later on, which I taught myself. Singing was always something that came first for me, and eventually I became passionate about writing my own music. I have always had something in me pushing me towards music. There has never been a time in my life where I’ve stopped, because I have continuously developed who I am through this passion. It has never been a question whether or not it is something I want in my life, for it is what makes me happy and fulfilled and it is something that I am driven about. Today I find myself very fortunate to call myself a professional musician, for it is what brings me the most joy. When you find something you are good at and makes you happy, you run with it.

What are your personal goals as a musician?:
My goals as a musician range in categories from small goals to large goals. The smaller goals often change, which I personally think is healthy. I am constantly striving to collaborate with other musicians and be involved in as many musical projects as I can handle. I try to have a certain amount of gigs booked a couple months ahead of time, and I make it a goal to practice everyday, even if that means for 15 minutes. My larger musical goals have to do with where I am headed in this profession as a musician. I am currently recording my first EP of my original music which will be released this Spring. I am constantly focused on promoting my art and music, just trying to simply get my name out to society. My ultimate goal would be getting signed and going on tour, traveling the world while playing music. Although this thought can often be discouraged, it’s something that has never wavered in my mind.

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?:
A musical concept that really always clicked for me and I will never forget, is the phrase “emotion over technique”. Not to confuse this phrase with the thought that technique does not mean anything, (because it means a lot). However; In my experience with performing, I’ve realized that if you put the right amount of work and proper technique in during practice time, and all that’s left is the performance, it’s best to let go of the brain’s thoughts and just be. Your brain will be thinking a million different things, such as breath support, lifting, dropping the jaw, and a million other technique memorizations that we all go crazy over. When it’s all said and done, I believe it is best to surrender to the emotion. Let yourself sit in the music and let it take over you however it may. I have found that if I do this, my technique and everything else that is musically essential will naturally follow.

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?:
An instructor of mine in college gave me a particular piece of advice that has really stuck with me throughout the years. She told me that no matter how busy you are, always find time to warm-up and you will never be out of shape. I think about this everyday. There are times where I find myself running around crazy and the only singing I have time for is presenting examples to my students on those particular days. Or I’ll find myself traveling or simply taking a break from everyday life, especially during breaks while I was still in college. I have carried my teacher’s advice throughout these situations, and although I’m not perfect, I have kept this a goal of mine and succeeded for the most part. I do my best to take 10-15 minutes throughout my day to warm-up, sing through a past aria, even if it is a third of the song. Whatever it takes to wake my voice up, I will do it. I have found that this has helped me immensely, for when I am laying low on gigs and take a couple months off, I never find myself out of shape because a little practice everyday really does adds up.

What was your most challenging moment learning music?:
My most challenging moment learning an instrument is probably when I started to accompany myself on drums while singing at the same time. I have incorporated a tom drum in my sets, and the rhythm played combined with the syncopated and sometimes staccato rhythms that I sing on top of it is often challenging. This combination improved me as a musician immensely, for I was able to multitask rhythms naturally, like every drummer is able to do. It improved me as a vocalist, for I now often incorporate rhythmic accents in certain phrases more often than I used to. Because of this challenge, I have become more comfortable and definitely more knowledgable when it comes to rhythm and everyday embellishments in the music that I perform.

What is your biggest musical achievement?:
My biggest musical achievement took place this past December. I entered and amazingly ended up winning a 3 month long vocal competition held in Philadelphia, called, “Songbird: Search for Philly’s Best Singer”. Starting alongside with 19 other contestants chosen from either word of mouth or audition submissions, we competed each week as one singer was eliminated at a time. Each week there would be a different theme; Such as Michael Jackson, 90’s R&B, group week, EDM, and more. The finale consisted of preparing three songs instead of one, as five singers battled out until there was one, winning a grand prize of $2,000 and the title of “Philly’s Best Singer”. Although this competition was brutal and extremely challenging, I’m glad that I forced myself to be put in such a competitive environment, which is never easy to do. Standing there and being judged is a big part of the music business, and although it was difficult, I can say that I am much more confident and comfortable today when it comes to people’s opinions of me as a musician. I stuck true to who I was as an artist, instead of “morphing” into what I figured society would like, and it paid off.

Favorite thing about teaching?:
My favorite thing about teaching is the moment you see something click within your student. I love the thought that I am the reason that this person is improving in something that we share a common passion for. Seeing someone improve is such an accomplishment for the teacher, and definitely a gift in return. Giving something good is always a good thing! Another highlight I recall from teaching is constantly being able to review the base fundamentals. I think as musicians improve, we often become lost in the embellishments and stylizing that we sometimes lose the basic technique that we first learned from day one. Teaching helps me solidify the basics in my own memory. A musician can improve to endless amounts, but I believe that improvement is only possible when one carries the basic fundamentals alongside them.

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?:
My advice to anyone learning music is to be patient with yourself but also have high standards. I try not to be too hard on myself, but I am disciplined. I take note of mistakes I made in past shows and I make it a point to fix them in the next one. If I am doing a warm-up, I will always do it full out. You can’t just go through the motions when it comes to music. You have to feel it and give 110%. If you do this, you will see positive results in your instrument. Alongside of discipline comes patience, which is also extremely important because music is something  that requires so much emotion. You must be kind to yourself and understand that you most likely won’t be a rock star overnight. Take the time to reward yourself and acknowledge the smaller accomplishments, because every “baby step” is still a step in the right direction.

Personal music projects: i.e. bands, groups, shows, recording, etc:
I am currently recording an EP (extended playlist) which will consist of five original songs I have written. I have been working on this with a musician friend of mine for over a year. On top of that I am working on building my live band. I am working with a keyboardist now and constantly experimenting with other musicians. I am focusing on discovering my original sound, which takes time. The only way to really discover your sound is to collaborate with other musicians and broaden your horizons to music. I am fortunate to have a number of gigs booked in the near future, which range of projects from my own music, to back up vocals, to collaborations. I look forward to staying busy with these projects and constantly improving from them as well.