Danielle Svonavec » About Danielle Svonavec

About Danielle Svonavec

I grew up in a small town in western PA and sang often with my family and in choirs. Studied math and music at Notre Dame. I continue to sing at the Basilica at ND, locally and in the group The Baltimore Consort, which tours around the US and Canada. I taught private voice lessons for years before teaching Music Together through Goshen College. I taught recorder, music theory, composition and choir at Trinity for ten years before coming to Bethany. I have three daughters, ages 22, 18 and 17. I spend a lot of time studying music and singing. I also like reading classic literature, learning about other cultures and trying new foods. I enjoy listening to podcasts and visiting thrift and consignment stores.

What is your philosophy of teaching?

I believe that one thing all humans have in common is a longing to understand reality and their place in it. Everyone is curious to a degree and designed to learn. A teacher's mandate is to create opportunities that elicit wonder in their students, allow students to recognize and create beauty and encourage empathy. 

What kind of classroom experience do you try to create for your students?

I want the students to discover that learning music and creating beauty through music is fun and within their grasp. I try to create an environment that fosters collaboration and feels safe.

How do you keep students engaged in their learning experience?

I ask for student input in interpreting the texts we are singing. I also give the students physical exercises to illustrate vocal techniques. I have found that if students learn some basic vocal techniques, they find their music more comfortable to sing and more secure in its sound. This gives them confidence in themselves and in me as their instructor. Once they experience some success as a choir, they feel really good about making music together, which opens the door to trying more challenging repertoire – it begins a virtuous circle! 

What qualities or life skills do you wish to impart to your students?

I want students to learn how to listen to each other's voices in order to blend. I also want students to understand that their individual work in rehearsal impacts the progress of the choir – they need to be responsible for themselves and the way their behavior affects everyone. Learning a musical instrument is a series of failures. I want the students to learn how to be vulnerable in rehearsals and learn from inevitable mistakes. I hope that they develop a measure of confidence onstage, too.

What fuels your passion and drive to be an educator?

I love seeing students "aha" moments. In the longer term I enjoy seeing students develop a love for singing together. 

When you aren't teaching, what can we find you doing?

Thrifting! Working out at the gym, and learning new music.

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