Queens College alumnus and up-and-coming vocal coach Neophytos Ioannou spoke with The Knight News to discuss his experience of opening a virtual studio during the pandemic.
With his Instagram recently passing 6,000 followers, the young singer has garnered international attention for his vocal talents, providing students across the country the opportunity to further develop their musical abilities. “I try to be multi-faceted in that I don’t just do singing, but also acting, educating, showing my culture, and adding some of my own personality,” Neophytos explains when asked about his digital brand.
Graduating from the Aaron Copland School of Music with a Master’s in Classical Performance at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Neophytos was initially left unsure about the future of his career.
“We really didn’t know what was happening at first. I remember freaking out because I had to do a recital, so I was wondering if we would be able to do a live performance. Nobody knew how drastic or long this would be,” Neophytos recounts to The Knight News, later adding, “the plans I had for graduation weren’t over, but they were certainly paused.”
With live performances on hold, the pandemic had given Neophytos time to reflect on his career and what exactly he wanted to do, later deciding to broaden his involvement with music to include other fields such as classical and pop, and offering virtual coaching lessons.
“I’ve been performing my whole life. Dance was my first love, and then I did tap, jazz, and ballet, until I eventually transitioned more to musical theater. I was the kid in school who, while everyone else was doing independent work, was tapping in the corner or humming to myself. I acted like I was really on Broadway.”
Some life lessons the recent graduate had also learned was the importance of using one’s time wisely and acknowledging that not everything that happens in a person’s life is in their control. “In my head, each moment is a blessing. Especially seeing the news and everything; it’s the severity of things that really made me think about this moment we’re in.”
Describing some of the obstacles he encountered when trying to establish an online presence, Neophytos emphasizes how most of his progress came down to his mindset. “At first, I felt very rigid; I would over criticize. So, the first thing I realized was I should just do it. I had to come from the mindset that I was sharing; sharing my knowledge and offering my skills and myself to an extent. It’s not really about me. I’m posting it to share with someone else to help them.”
Despite conducting vocal lessons online, what surprised Neophytos was how effective they were in helping him connect with his students. “The thing that’s great with online in general is that it’s so much more accessible to the world. I’ve had students from Tennessee, California, Boston; people who I normally wouldn’t be able to see.”
When asked about the success of his Instagram and virtual studio, Neophytos reveals to The Knight News that not only does he get feedback from just America, but across the world.
“I had a Greek Cypriot influencer share my singing video. I also remember one time I got a message about a video I posted when I was first starting out. I was nervous and fearful that nobody was going to like it and right when I was about to delete it, I got a message from someone saying that it really made their day. Then it clicked to me. As a creator, my social media can be used to build a community and create a sense of unity.”
Going into detail about the future of his virtual studio, Neophytos plans to continue performing, having recently been accepted to the Actors’ Equity Association. He also plans on further helping his students, hoping to one day become a professor of voice to make more of an impact.
When asked about what advice he would want to leave for readers Neophytos said, “Do what ignites you. Do what scares you and challenges you. So much of what I have done comes from me being scared and fighting through it. My voice studio was something I was very nervous about, and now I have students all over the country. It all stems from being nervous, but taking that plunge anyway.”
To connect with Neophytos and schedule a voice lesson, visit his website (https://www.neophytosioannou.com/) and follow him on Instagram (@neophytos.ioannou), Facebook (@NeophytosIoannouMusician), and LinkedIn (Neophytos Ioannou).