May 25 2009

How to Find a Singing Teacher

Published by at 11:48 AM under Delivery,Vocal Health


In summer, many people find time to work harder toward a goal while their schedule is more relaxed.  Others may decide to skip the vacation and do something closer to home that they’ve been wanting to do for a long time…like studying singing.  But how do you make sure you are not wasting your time with a teacher?  After all, anyone can hang up a shingle and say they are a voice teacher;  there is no FDA or AMA for regulating those who teach singing.

When someone has trouble singing the way they want to, a voice teacher tries to identify the problem and  help the singer sing again…or better…or finally!  It is curious, however, that there seem to be almost as many ways to describe and fix problems as there are singing teachers.  Certainly there seem to be many techniques out there and trying to identify whether or not a particular teacher can help you can be as difficult as herding cats!  Yet every singing teacher seems to think they have the answer and, like merchants in a bazaar, they hawk their wares with authority and charismatic charm.  Often, we singing teachers cling to the belief of the one true way, which is ours, of course, and stake claim to singing methods and teaching ideas that cannot really be claimed at all.

Any teacher, whether they teach singing or biology, is a product of their teachers and their personal experiences.  Therefore, though they may teach a particular approach, their way will actually be unique.  I worked with Seth Riggs for many years and before that I worked with one of his proteges…and several people who had no connection to him at all.  I certainly believe in what he taught me as it really made a difference in my voice, but it is not the only thing I learned about singing that worked for me!  SpeechLevel Singing is not a software that any “certified professional” can plug in and therefore teach just like Seth.  However, it is good for those teachers who are certified as they have to thoroughly understand the technique before being certified, and it may be good for you IF you find a teacher who is also someone you feel you can trust with your voice.

So, how do you find a singing teacher that will really help you? Here are some simple steps to follow that will make the search a little easier:

1.  Get references.  You can do this several ways.  Call a local college or university and find out if any of their voice teachers give private lessons, or have students who do.  Or go to a musical theater production or a nightclub or coffee shop and listen to singers with the idea of identifying one you’d like to emulate.  Then go backstage and talk to them about their singing teacher.  Or go to recitals or concerts at universities and colleges and listen for singers who have a lot of range, nice tone, good diction and good stage presence.  Find out with whom they study and get the contact information you need to reach that singing teacher.  Eventually your sleuth work will lead to a list of singing teachers with whom you may want to study.

2. Take some lessons and record them. Call the singing teachers on your list and schedule some lessons.  It’s a good idea to take lessons from three or four singing teachers before landing on the one for you.  Commit to their instruction, at least for a time to see what results or better understanding you get, if any.

3.  Ask questions. Ask how long the singing teacher has taught voice.  What is important to them in developing singers’ voices?  What are their students doing with their voices?  Where do they sing?  What makes a good singing voice good?  What do they expect of their voice students?

4.  Consider how well you get along with each singing teacher.  Ask yourself if you can learn from them.  There are many approaches and many personalities. You must find a teacher that suits your personality and your style of learning and one who gets good results.

5.  Listen to your recordings. Try everything the teacher asks you to do even if it seems strange, and ask questions if you don’t understand or wonder why you are making those strange sounds!  And by the way, you WILL make strange sounds!  Work with each recording for a week at home.

6.  Select your teacher after comparing each one and your experience with them and their instructions.  Then, commit to their instruction wholeheartedly and practice, practice, practice!!

7. Be patient. It may take time to find the right person, but they will be working with the only voice you have– make sure you make an informed decision.

No responses yet

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply