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Meet Liz Jackson Hearns and Alexandra Plattos Sulack of The Voice Lab

Today we’d like to introduce you to Liz Jackson Hearns and Alexandra Plattos Sulack.

Liz and Alexandra, please share your story with us. 
We started by renting a room in the basement of a church in Lakeview to teach lessons one day per week. Within a year, our client base had grown enough to move into our own retail space in the Northcenter neighborhood, where we have been for about three years. In January of this year, we also opened a second studio location just up the street.

The Voice Lab started with the two us and a handful of students, and in 4 years we’ve grown to a team of 15 teachers and staff with over 250 students. We’re more than just a neighborhood music studio; we offer lessons in singing, piano, and transgender/nonbinary voice. In addition to private lessons, it is important to us to foster collaboration, so we created our ColLABorate and Coll’Opera programs which bring students together to form ensembles, participate in team-building exercises, and promote community.

Has it been a smooth road?
One of the biggest struggles for us has been bridging the gaps between educators to business owners. We met at North Park University while both pursuing our degrees of Master of Music in Vocal Performance. In that kind of academic environment, no one teaches you how to run a multi-teacher studio or create a strategic plan to ensure its success. There have certainly been challenges along the way. Mostly, though, these are because we are growing faster than we anticipated. Through all the challenges — and it feels like every day brings a new one — we strive to always let our educational values and philosophies guide our decisions. For us, the most important thing is providing a welcoming place to learn and grow.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We are different from your neighborhood music store in a few distinct ways:
We cater to adults. From the office decorations to the way we foster friendships between students, most of the experiences at The Voice Lab are geared toward adult learners. It can be scary to take on a new musical skill or to return to an activity that they haven’t participated in for many years. Our goal is to celebrate that return to music and help our adult students build the skills and confidence to feel great about their musical life.

We specialize in helping transgender and nonbinary folks find authenticity and comfort in their voices. From the beginning, starting with our inquiry forms, we endeavor to create a gender inclusive space where all voices are valid and welcome. Private lessons, online classes, monthly gatherings, and in-house literary materials are some of the tools that we utilize to support trans and nonbinary speakers and singers.

We recently published a book titled One Weird Trick: A User’s Guide to Transgender Voice to help guide our students; Liz also co-authored The Singing Teacher’s Guide to Transgender Voices to help support fellow singing teachers working in this realm.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Absolutely! We have found a great deal of support from the community.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Alexandra Plattos Sulack, Jon Wes

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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