We had the good fortune of connecting with Dana Rice and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dana, can you talk to us about the impact the Covid-19 Crisis has had on your business.
As a performing arts instructor and artist the Covid-19 Crisis has affected my business in the most Twilight Zone like way. On one hand there is the devastating halt to live performances and large gatherings. I find myself in this strange space where the very thing I prepare my students to do- perform live- is at least temporarily and possibly for the foreseeable future not plausible. Leading up to the crisis I was in the midst of preparing for 3 major live events which had been planned for a whole year. This resulted in loss of income. I’d also just completed a complete makeover of my studio the day before the shutdown and haven’t been able to open again for over two months now. On the other hand there is the phenomenon of the great demand for music to help everyone cope with the stressful situation created by this crisis. This has also created a demand for music lessons, but then there is the challenge of teaching performing arts online. All this has required an extraordinary amount of mental and creative stamina to pivot in ways that will help keep things going. My studio is now 100% online. I am looking forward to the day we get back to in-person lessons and performances but as of now it seems that day is far away.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I coach creatives, singers and pianists along their way to their Big Dreams. What really excites me about this work is that unlike traditional music lessons where the focus is solely on learning how to play an instrument or sing, my students get to work towards the bigger goal of living a life that is elevated through the arts. What do I mean by that? My goal is that through learning to sing, play music and perform every student learns skills that will afford them unlimited opportunities to live their best life. The number one skill is self confidence which is required to succeed at anything you do. I love that through music and arts education a child can become aware that he or she has the ability to do hard things. Perseverance is another skill that arts education develops and one which helps the student move through life with an attitude of “stick-to-itiveness”. I am super thrilled when I get to work with a student who is clear that he or she wants to pursue the arts as a career. I’m also excited when students discover this desire while taking lessons with me. Because I know the power, rewards, and pitfalls of a creative life I take special care to not only teach students performance skills but I also teach them industry skills- the business side of being an artist. In fact, one of the phrases that my students will tell you I say over and over again is “Your art makes you a business”. I firmly believe that having a sense of purpose for learning to sing or play an instrument provides focus and motivation. So in my lessons we don’t just learn technique, we learn practical application. My students perform on stage and online often, write and record music as well as work in film and television. Basically I try to give students the instruction and guidance I wanted as a young creative who started piano lessons at 5 years old. It’s my desire to be the teacher for them that I needed for myself. I’m bringing all the lessons I’ve learned over the past 40+ years of performing and 30+ years of teaching, putting it in front of them and saying “let’s grow together”! As we move through the current challenge in the world of more in depth utilization of technology I am both challenged and energized by the new opportunities we have for more collaboration without geographic boundaries and am excited about our upcoming Virtual Masterclass Series with artists in other parts of the United States and the world. Currently we have online piano masterclasses, dance for singers online, and online vocal masterclasses lined up in addition to our private online piano and vocal coaching. On the creativity coaching side we are now offering virtual coaching with a team of professionals who are well equipped to help clients tap into and monetize their creativity so they can live their best artistic life. I guess the lyrics of my song “Big Dreams” (available on all streaming outlets) sums up what I’d like anyone who is considering studying music and arts to know is “Big dreams don’t come easily, but you’ll regret it if you don’t give it all you’ve got. You’re right on the line- closer than you think. So start now chasing those Big Dreams.”
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
It is strange answering this question at a time when travel is halted because of Covid-19, businesses are in transition and some are even closing, but the idea of dreaming up an itinerary for a week long visit from a friend is making me really happy right now so here goes! Friday- Assuming my friend was arriving at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport I’d pick her up there and we’d stop for lunch at Busy Bee Cafe in Atlanta. Fried Chicken, Collard Greens, Lima Beans, Cornbread and Peach Cobbler. Then on the way home -which may take a while due to Friday traffic (I’m speaking pre-covid-19 of course) we’ll talk about the various places in the city where some of our favorite movies and shows were filmed. Saturday- I usually spend my Saturdays with my daughter at her performing arts workshop with Youth Ensemble of Atlanta so I’d take my friend there for a bit and we’d watch the young people ages 8-22 sing, dance and act for a while. Then we’d sneak out for a bit and stroll around the shops at Atlantic Station. Sunday- Brunch at The Brunch Apothecary in Dacula. They have the biggest chicken and waffles and the perfect laid back country home atmosphere for a lazy Sunday. Monday- Sleeping late to let traffic die down and then heading to my studio in downtown Buford. We’ll cut up and likely write a song, record a little something and make a video to preserve the memory. For lunch or dinner we’ll walk down the street to Aqua Terra and have their yummy fish and chips. Oh and the brussel sprouts too! Then we’d go outside and have our own mini photo shoot near the train track and throughout beautiful downtown Buford. Tuesday- The Roof At Ponce City Market will be our adventure for the day. While we’re there we’ll of course take advantage of the chance to sample food from the various restaurants inside and take tons of pictures. We may even go for a walk on the belt line before heading home. Wednesday- I can’t let my friend visit Atlanta without taking her to the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Later that evening we’ll either catch a live show or a movie and hopefully see some people we know performing. Thursday- We’re heading to The Velvet Note in Alpharetta for Open Mic Night to hear some of the best jazz musicians in Atlanta and to discover some unknown musical gems among us. Friday- All good things come to an end and so it is with our little trip but on the way to the airport I’ll give my friend the rundown of all the exciting things to do at the airport once she checks in and waits for her flight- shopping, restaurants, live music from outstanding performers and of course people watching!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I definitely have to recognize my family- without my husband and kids’ support I couldn’t do what I do. This is truly a group effort that we all contribute to. I also want to recognize all the parents who have trusted me with their child’s arts development now and in the past. Oh and my students! They teach me so much more than I could ever learn on my own. They are patient with me as I learn how to reach them through the arts.
Linkedin: Dana Rice
Big Dreams Photo Credits: Lou Raimondi Photography