The Royans School/Royans Institute... Where did we come from and where are we now...?

 1984…The Birth of The Royans Professional Vocal School AKA The Royans School for the Musical Performing Arts!

An excerpt from the book by Diana Yampolsky titled:
"Vocal Science™ - Flight to the Universe".
Originally Published in the Year 2000. 

In 1984, The Royans School for the Musical Performing Arts was launched by myself and my common-law husband and partner, Ted Kowalczyk. Ted was a former opera singer who had become exposed to my new technique. We first met while singing in a choir together. From the first time he heard my voice, he was fascinated by its beauty and fullness and asked me if I would give him some private lessons.
I agreed…

And over the course of his instruction, he was stunned by the results we achieved, which were by far greater than he had ever experienced in his previous years of education (he was a graduate of the Warszawa Conservatory of Music). However, I still thought that the (what is called now the Vocal Science™) Method, was still quite raw at that point and, to be honest, I was still working mostly kinesthetically. With that said, even though my method then was pretty far from what it is today, Ted’s singing had improved greatly. He became aware that he wasn’t achieving his full potential as a singer and he later confessed that he realized that I could help him reach his peak when he first heard me sing and nevertheless, especially after experiencing my teaching firsthand. He also noted that I was the exact “opposite” of all the other voice teachers he had in his lifetime.

In Ted, I found a kindred spirit. I had been training an “accomplished” opera singer who loved music and had been taught the same vocal techniques that my teachers had “taught” me. In time the love we shared for music grew into a love for one another. Ted created the ideal conditions in which for me to develop my new technique and evolve as a vocal coach and vocal producer.
At this time, not only were we running a successful music school - donated to me by a person named Stefan Pavliak for my exceptional talent, but we also performed as a duo under the name Ted and Diana Royans. Our stage name Royans, created by Ted out of the blue, became our school name as well. Now, as I realize that I have gotten a little bit ahead of myself, I should also mention how the Royans School was actually born.

While working at the Academy of Music (owned by fellow Russian musicians), I met an older gentleman, 50 years my senior, who literally fell in love with my musical talent. He happened to be a Polish immigrant, who during WWII ended up in Russia and, therefore, spoke Russian fluently.

One day, I came to work early and sat down at the piano located in the front lobby of the Academy of Music. At that time, I knew all the current Russian songs and romances and, while waiting for a student, I started to play and sing. Suddenly, I was interrupted by a male voice behind my back with the question, “Who are you?” I replied that I worked there as a singing and piano teacher and the person behind the voice seemed to be pleased, but not quite satisfied with my answer.
This, nevertheless, puzzled me, but this is how our conversation began. The gentleman stated that both my singing and playing were extraordinary and asked me why I had not opened up a school of my own…?

I laughed and informed him that I was a poor immigrant with a young child and did not have sufficient funds to even dare to dream about it. Then he said that his lifelong dream was to find somebody talented, young, vibrant and ambitious to operate a music school that he would fund. According to him, his late wife and relatives never took seriously his musicianship, nor his idea to open up a music school of his own. In reality, his piano playing was truly amazing, especially given his age. We continued our conversation and I started to realize that he was hinting that I would be the perfect candidate to run the music school of his dreams. At first, I thought this was some kind of joke, but he definitely seemed to be very interested…

He was persistent and even found my home phone number through my current employers, whom he apparently knew. I have to admit I was a little bit scared and so I transferred all his phone calls to Ted.
The elder gentlemen and Ted, both Polish, understood and connected with one another right away. Then I learned that Ted had taken a trip to Lake Simcoe to visit our new friend and our future sponsor. Ted returned in a shocked state bringing home with him quite a few musical instruments, which definitely had market value.
According to Ted, this man didn’t have anything else in his home except musical instruments and a whole bunch of pets and wild animals, which he fed night and day.

Shortly after Ted’s visit, this eccentric gentleman continued to pursue us until he convinced Ted to drive to Lake Simcoe to pick him up and bring him to our place.
Needless to say, we did not have any proper furniture or animals and except for the piano I brought all the way from Russia, no other musical instruments either.
Once again, he asked us to sing and play for him and as we finished he asked us to drive him towards the Royal Bank Building in downtown Toronto.
When we arrived he left us in the lobby of the bank and disappeared with a bank representative. Approximately fifteen minutes later, he returned and handed me a certified cheque in the amount of eight thousand dollars with my name on it.

He explained that we now had no choice but to open a music school – and the sooner the better! Ted and I looked at each other and admitted out loud that we now had no reason not to and felt very excited but scared…as neither of us knew anything about running a business!

So we opened the doors on February the 15th, 1984 and had already used all the money our sponsor had given us. We were broke, however, were full of enthusiasm.
Now we had to figure out how to find all the students as we needed to pay our second month’s rent. 
Needless to say, the first and last months of our rent had been covered with our startup funds.
Luckily for us, immigration in Toronto was in full swing and those coming from European countries were really anxious to educate their children. And since we were located in the heart of Little Italy, right beside two schools where I had previously worked as a singing and piano teacher, we enrolled 115 students in no time.
We were very happy with this development; however, we had no clue about the “business” side of our venture. We had to learn about it the hard way, in other words, by hands-on experience.
Music was all we really knew, but what we didn’t know was how to put equal emphasis on the Business part of the equation. However here I must mention that the word Music was much bigger than (opposed to nowadays) and that is what helped us to survive!

During the last fourteen years of running this business by myself, as unfortunately my best friend, partner and common-law husband Ted Kowalczyk passed away unexpectedly in 1986, I believe that I have gotten the business part down to a science. However, I do greatly regret that the MUSIC, which sustained my business from its birth, has diminished in its meaning. I know for a fact that if I were starting out today, the music by itself would be a very small vehicle to success and that makes me very sad. (Chapter 12, “More Music, More Business”, discusses my beliefs about how music and business should be equal halves of the same whole.)

Looking back, between Ted’s death in June of ’86, through February of ’87, when our first lease was about to expire and the building which housed our first location was sold to new owners, I was very emotionally drained and had to decide if I wanted to continue the school by myself or give up on it altogether, as I also had a six-year-old child to take care of.

Here I have to acknowledge two people who became very dear to me.
Both were actually our first students of the school and became friends of the family:
Marc Theberge and James Knapp…
Both were Canadian actors that were studying voice at our school and also helped out with the school’s many musical productions and events. They were a great moral support for me during this hard time in my life. Both volunteered their help at the school, especially in the administrative department about which I had no clue.
In my weak moments when I contemplated giving up on the whole business idea, they were the ones persuading me that I COULD DO IT and assuring me that Ted would never accept my decision to give it up…
I am still in communication with both Marc and Jim and will cherish their help and friendship FOREVER!
Thank you Guys!
I owe you BIG TIME!

By February 1987, I was running the school by myself and had to make a new decision because the new owners of my building wanted to drastically increase my rent if I stayed for the next term: So I had to either pay almost double or move on to another location.
Again, a student helped me greatly!
I made the decision to move and found a new location with very reasonable rent, but needed approximately $10,000 to renovate the space to the point where it would be suitable for the operation of the music school.
This student’s mother worked as a manager at a CIBC bank and, without any collateral or security offered by me, broke all the rules and loaned me $10,000!
Now the future of the Royans School was looking more prosperous. 

In March of 1987, I moved into my new location and decided to downsize the school.
Now we were primarily specializing in vocal and piano instruction. We no longer had a retail music store or rehearsal space for bands, as neither the space nor my own capacity would permit their operation.

Shortly thereafter I realized that the one and only subject I was truly interested in specializing and offering to my clients was singing. Vocal Development became my specialty and, with this decision, things really started taking off.
For the Story to be continued….

This Is Where We Are Now:

We discovered an article (from 2017) which got published in the Ontario Heritage Trust. 

This article highlights the history and founding of The Professional Vocal School, AKA The Royans School for the Musical Performing Arts.

Please check out the story of the school which is today over 39 years old (Since 1984): 


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