ArtSmart mentor Chris Filipowicz, an active operatic bass performer in the San Francisco Bay Area, writes about the mentorship pairing between him and his student Ariel.

When I knew I would be working with ArtSmart for the 19/20 school year, I was hoping I would end up with a student like Ariel (pictured above). He is a dedicated, hard working, and very talented performer. His consistent work in the studio with me and on his own, inspire me to work harder. I am very excited where his life will take him. 

Ariel and I have one glaring commonality: our big bass voices. Having the opportunity to work with someone with a voice similar to mine is precisely why I wanted to work with an organization like ArtSmart. The needs of a bigger voice require special attention, and I am thrilled to be able to pay forward all I have learned. 

Ariel’s work ethic is what every voice teacher hopes for when presented with a new student. He always shows up ready to work, oftentimes warming himself up if I step out for a break in between lessons. Some of the methods I use to reinforce good habits aren’t always the most conventional, but Ariel always goes along with me and tries them out. He’s never afraid to give me honest answers about new approaches, and that only helps me become a better teacher. 

One of the best things about working with Ariel is his creativity. He never needs me to coax expression out is his voice, it’s always there. His sense of the bigger picture is inspiring and I always look forward to hearing his thoughts on a piece. 

The progress Ariel has made in the few months we have been working together is very apparent. In the age of the tweet and the 15 second advertisement, seeing the long term goal isn’t always easy. Having the endgame in sight is of the utmost importance with younger voices, and Ariel is right there with me when we talk about these things. It’s not always about getting the “perfect” result in the moment, sometimes the hard work doesn’t pay off for weeks or even months. 

Ariel has been a very active performer in the Bay Area. Apart from school productions he has also performed with ACT, MoveAbout Theatre, and the Bay Area Vocal Academy. He also performed The Witch in Lowell High School’s production of Into the Woods this year. I am very proud of his progress.

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By Chris Filipowicz, ArtSmart mentor  |  Published on 08/18/2020