Bio and Studio Teaching Philosophy
About SUNSHINE MUSIC STUDIOS
Founded by Jamie O'Connor, the goal of
Sunshine Music Studios is to foster enthusiasm for music and performance in students of all ages. We strive to create a positive environment where students can reach all of the goals that they set out to achieve. It is important for our students to feel a warm, welcoming atmosphere, where they can make mistakes, take risks, and ask questions.
We know every student has different needs and it is crucial to cater our lessons to each individual student. The process of singing, playing piano, or learning music can at times be hard to grasp, especially for a beginning student, so it is very important to be able to connect it with something that is in a student’s daily routine. For example, if a student plays a sport, we use elements from that activity, which has aspects that are similar to what they are learning in their lessons.
We look forward to learning about how we can help you achieve your musical goals at Sunshine Music Studios!
Owner & Teacher
Mezzo-soprano Jamie O'Connor most recently received recognition by both The American Prize in Voice and New York Lyric Opera Theatre Competition for her performance of works by Strauss, Mozart, and Wagner. A native of Baltimore, Jamie earned her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music and Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Alabama under Dr. Paul Houghtaling.
In addition to Sunshine Music Studios, Jamie is an Applied Voice Instructor and Teaching Artist for the Apex Arts Magnet Program at Anne Arundel County Public Schools. Mrs. O'Connor is also an Adjunct Voice Instructor at Carroll Community College. Jamie had studios in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Springfield, Illinois and in Miami and Tallahassee, Florida. She has previously served as the head of the voice program at The Music Factory (Springfield) and served on the faculty at The Stubbs' Music Center (Tallahassee).
In the 2021/22 season, Mrs. O'Connor was a guest artist in Carroll Community College’s Voice Faculty Concerts “Songs of Looking Ahead” and “As If We Never Said Goodbye,” where she performed art song and musical theatre selections by Brahms, Debussy, Bernstein, Schwartz, and Shaiman. As a member of the University of Alabama Opera Theatre, Jamie sang the role of The Nurse in Philip Seward's Juliet and the Quiltlover in the world premiere of Michael Ching's RSBE - Remove Shoes Before Entering in the 2019/20 season. In the 2018/19 season, she sang the roles of Consuelo in West Side Story and Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus. During the 2017/18 season, she appeared as a guest artist in "Visions of Dreams," where she performed selections by Duparc, Schubert, Mozart, and Lehár. In July 2017, she made her role debut as Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy. During the 2015/16 season, Jamie returned to the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival as Marcellina in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, where she also covered Countess Almaviva under the baton of Maestro James Richman. In addition, she appeared as La Chatte/L’Écureuil in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges.
Previously, Jamie joined the roster of Russian Opera Workshop, where she covered Zemfira in Rachmaninoff’s Aleko and the title role in an abridged version of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet. Jamie began the 2016 season as a guest artist in "From Heidelberg to Hanover," where she performed Strauss’ Four Last Songs in addition to selections from Lohengrin, Der Freischütz, and Tannhäuser with pianist James Harp. Highlights of the 2014/15 season included Second Lady in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte with the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, Alice (cover) in Verdi’s Falstaff with Harrower Opera Workshop, and "An Evening of Opera & Song" with the McDonogh Guest Artist Series.
STUDIO TEACHING PHILOSOPHY
Music making is a full-body experience.
The art of singing is a whole-body experience and it is essential for students to train and practice like an athlete would train for a high-level event. We encourage our students to engage in a physical activity that has an emphasis on the abdominal muscles (i.e. yoga, pilates, tai chi, weight routine), so that they feel what it’s like to use their whole body, as well as strengthen their core muscles. This directly relates to appoggio-based breath support, which is the technique Jamie utilizes in her own singing and studio. We teach our students to use their entire body when singing. Jamie believes that students should practice physicality with gestures, so they can connect to their whole body and feel a strong gravitational center.
We foster a healthy vocal technique and believe that it is necessary for students to understand how the muscles work for inhalation, exhalation, and phonation. Utilizing gestures or movement will encourage students to create a natural and free sound, so nothing is locked and can release tension. In addition, it is important for students to have kinesthetic awareness in the process of singing. After a student has grasped a basic understanding of alignment, the body, and breathing, I tend to focus on phonation and resonance, especially having a clean onset after the inhalation. Singing relies on good muscle coordination, so careful practice and patience is needed. The process cannot be rushed. Students in our studios have a solid foundation, which can be applied to any style of music that they wish to sing or play.
Every musician is a unique artist.
Every student has different needs and it is crucial to cater each lesson to the particular student. Therefore, we find parallels in our students’ lives and their singing. For example, if a student plays a sport, we use elements from that activity, which has aspects that are similar to vocal technique. It is essential for students to be able to relate vocal technique to something that they understand well.
The process of singing can at times be hard to grasp, especially for a beginning student, so it is very important to be able to connect it with something that is in a student’s daily routine. We do not use the same set of technical tools for every student. Every singer learns differently and it is important to be aware of how each student learns and to then choose the appropriate tools that will best serve the student. As a teaching studio, we have a great responsibility to inspire our students and to encourage and support their journey.