About the Instructor

Dr. Rickards earned his Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music in Vocal Performance from Indiana University. He then received a Fulbright-Hayse Scholarship and a Rotary Grant for continued study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He completed his Doctor of Music at Florida State University. Dr. Rickards teaches as a vocal instructor at Butler University, Marian University, and the University of Indianapolis.

During the summer Steven is very active in workshops. He is the director of the Vocal Arts Institute for high school students at the University of Indianapolis. He teaches regularly at the "Creating Artistry" workshop at Butler University. Each summer, he teaches at AIMS at Eastbourne College in England. Rickards is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS).

In addition to his work at the college level, Dr. Rickards also maintains a private voice studio, where he teaches adult students as well as a substantial number of high school and middle school students. Many of his younger students have been members of the Indianapolis Children's Choir. His high school students have done consistently well in solo competitions such as ISSMA and the Prelude Awards (sponsored by the Indianapolis Children's Museum). His students have been accepted for musical study at the following institutions: Ball State University, Butler University, Carnegie Mellon University, De Paul University, Florida State University, Indiana University, the University of Indianapolis, Millikin College, the Mountview Conservatory (London), Northwestern University, and Stetson University.

Why Study Singing?

The art of singing is a marvelous pursuit. Singing is an activity that can enrich one's life both musically and socially. The more one develops musical skills, the more one is capable of truly understanding the depth, beauty, and tremendous power that the world of music and singing has to offer.

Singing is a physical activity. In this aspect, it is similar to a sport. Whether one sees music primarily as a hobby or as a career goal, a sense of commitment and discipline is required for proper skills development. Frequent practice is necessary to apply and re-enforce the principles of good singing. Through the singing of scales and other vocal exercises, the student will learn techniques in proper posture, breath control and tone placement.

Singing is a musical activity. A singer must be musically literate in order to achieve the maximum enjoyment that music has to offer. The student will develop the skills of music reading and sight singing. Young singers often rely on their ears to learn their music. Achieving musical independence is an important skill to develop. This process involves developing the eye as well as the ear when approaching a new score.

Singing is an intellectual activity. In this aspect it is similar to any other academic subject. In order for one to grow as a singer one needs to explore music from a variety of different time periods and styles. The student will begin their vocal training with folksongs from various cultures. The student will explore vocal music of the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Contemporary Periods. We will begin our studies with songs in English. In time we will include songs in Italian, French, Latin, and German.

Singing is also an emotional activity. In order to become a successful singer, one must explore the world of emotion and dramatic intent. A singer needs to connect with text on an emotional level. The student will develop these skills by reading of song text as poetry. The student will also learn how to develop and use subtext to enhance their performance. To refine these skills, we will explore the repertoire of British and American art song and the American Musical Theatre tradition.

Studying With Dr Rickards

Dr. Rickards maintains an active private studio of young singers and adults. Middle school students, high school students, and adults interested in vocal study should contact Dr. Rickards directly at (317) 252-4311.

High school students attending North Central High School may receive lessons through the Vocal Arts Institute sponsored by the University of Indianapolis. It will be possible for many of the students enrolled through this program to have lessons at school during the school day. For information about this program, please contact the administrator of the program, Mary Catherine Davis, at (317) 788-2109.

Vocal Arts Institute Summer Program

Each summer, the University of Indianapolis offers the Vocal Arts Institute, a ten-day summer program for singers of high school age (grades 9-12). The program is aimed at developing vocal, musical and theatrical skills, offering private vocal instruction and classes in movement and music theory. Students can either live on campus for the duration of the institute, or they can live at home and commute daily. For further information about the summer program, please contact our administrator, Mary Catherine Davis, at (317) 788-2109.