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Meet Courtney Cutchins of Seadragon Songhouse in Roswell (North Atlanta)

Today we’d like to introduce you to Courtney Cutchins.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’ll start my story by beginning at the end; freeing my voice has been the absolute best, most powerful thing I’ve ever done for myself – and I want to help others experience this incredible gift. I firmly believe, whether you’re a professional vocalist, a “shower singer,” a chorus member, a storyteller, an absolute beginner, a karaoke connoisseur, a public speaker, an extrovert, an introvert, a thrill-seeker or a peace-keeper, singing can enlighten and enhance your entire life.

To be brief, singing – and helping others use their voices – has been a love of mine for as long as I can remember. However, somewhere along the way, my throat became tied up in knots. I struggled for so many years with the physical parts of both singing and speaking that I didn’t even realize how badly I was suffering – until, after much determination and training, these things began to improve – and it was like a whole new world! This opportunity to work through my own vocal and creative recovery has been profoundly transformative.

I’ve also had the privilege of studying at some of the top conservatory programs in the world, working with my own incredible teachers and expanding my musical horizons. In 2009, I received a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Voice from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle – and in 2016, a Master of Music degree in Jazz Voice from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. In 2017, I completed all three levels of Somatic Voicework™ pedagogical training at Baldwin Wallace University in Ohio – and I’ve studied a wide array of other musical methodologies.

I created my first studio, Courtney Cutchins Music, in 2004 – and have loved teaching in a wide array of environments across the country: private lessons for kids and adults, middle and high school classes, jazz choir and vocal jazz workshops, college clinics, as well as a Teaching Artist position with the groundbreaking Manhattan School of Music Distance Learning Program.

While I work with most of my clients on other contemporary styles (such as pop, folk, rock, country, musical theatre, etc.), I want to say a few words about my jazz upbringing. For me, jazz is the most exhilarating and challenging of all musical art forms – and it’s remarkable how much it’s at the root of many of today’s modern musical styles. It’s about having both an intellectual and emotional connection to the music – improvising, making mistakes and finding self-acceptance – diving into the depths of a story – and aspiring to total freedom of expression. These are all qualities that I know any person anywhere can benefit from, as I have – and this informs much of how I work with my clients.

After my years of coast-to-coast experience as a vocalist, composer, and performer, while also teaching others for nearly 15 years, Seadragon Songhouse was born – and founded on a vision to help people free themselves vocally, musically, creatively or otherwise.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
All the struggles! What many people don’t realize is how sensitive their voices are to their surroundings and experiences, so nearly anything that affects the average human body and mind can affect your voice and ability to sing or speak out. A short list of challenges that have affected me personally range from muscle tension dysphonia to chronic illness – perfectionism to trauma – reflux to black mold exposure – and rejection to performance anxiety. It may be cliche, but these situations are what forced me to learn, grow and change in, ideally, the best and most creative of ways (though it hasn’t been easy!) Through them, I learned how to best help myself and others, a perspective for which I am deeply grateful.

Similarly, the challenge Seadragon Songhouse has is educating people about the enormous value of their voices in all aspects of life. Everyone is burdened by something – and often this presents in a restricted ability to speak or sing. To top it off, society thinks that, for some reason, it’s okay to criticize, ridicule and shame other people’s voices – which is unacceptable. People are shut down, ideas are left unspoken and songs are left unsung. If I could communicate one thing, it would be that each person’s voice is entirely unique, priceless and meaningful – and that singing our stories is an intensely courageous and empowering act. It’s never too late – and literally, anyone can have positive results from voice work!

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Seadragon Songhouse – what should we know?
Seadragon Songhouse offers online and in-person 1:1 coaching in voice, songwriting, and creativity. We specialize in providing a fully-customized experience based on science, health, intuition, and imagination – helping you fuel your creative spark and use your voice with greater freedom and power! We work with our clients at our North Atlanta location in Roswell – as well as around the country through our Skype studio.

I’d like for us to be known first and foremost for our compassion, as that’s the first step to vocal recovery. As a teacher and coach, my approach is personalized to each client: their lifetime of experiences, their goals and what lights them up! We work in a creative way to blend the technical and artistic with what makes them awesome people. I don’t know of any other voice studio that is promoting and advocating for this on such a deep level!

Our studio in Roswell looks out over a beautiful garden retreat, as it was important to me that our clients have a sense of peace and privacy whenever they come to visit. For our remote clients over Skype, we use photography lighting and professional sound equipment in order to give them the very best e-learning experience possible. We also integrate environmental responsibility throughout our business and care about ocean conservation – just one of many reasons why “Seadragon” is in our name!

Lastly, we believe that vocal empowerment is immensely valuable for any age, career or phase of life – and we welcome and value our clients from all backgrounds and levels of experience. We’re proud to offer our clients support, flexibility and strategic tools (like our Seadragon SongJournal via GoogleDoc) which allow us to customize the work we do with each individual, whether they’re a traveling executive, a high-achieving music student, an active parent or an accomplished retiree. We’ve also worked with talented music professionals who have experienced phenomenal results, reaching new areas of their voice they never knew they had!

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and the least?
Atlanta is an awesome place with a great, artistic vibe! As it’s now becoming known as the Hollywood of the South, we’ve had success working with the many performers, actors and actresses, designers and other creatives who are involved in this incredible industry. Additionally, there’s a significant health and wellness boom happening here – and as people want to heal and empower their bodies, they’ve come to us for help on the vocal aspects of their journey. Our area of Roswell, in particular, has a wonderful group of out-of-the-box thinkers who are advocating for the arts and accomplishing great things. There’s really inspiring work being done in this area – and we’re so happy to be a part of it!

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