The Vocal Technician

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Finding the Right Voice Teacher

So the time has come to find yourself a voice teacher. Maybe this is your first time looking for formal training, or maybe you've made the decision that it's time to move on from the teacher with whom you are currently studying. Either way, the search is on, and there are so many choices! Who to pick?

First, let me begin by saying this: If you are with a teacher now with whom you are regularly seeing improvement... stay put! Voice lessons aren't all fun sing-alongs where you can walk in and sing "Defying Gravity" and "On My Own" once per week. The real work takes place in the exercises and driving TECHNIQUE. Take a step back and really look at your PROGRESS you've made since starting with your teacher, instead of whether or not he or she will let you sing your favorite songs. 

Second, do your research. OK, so let's say there's another singer in your school, or in town, that you absolutely idolize. You want to be them. You'd literally give up water and food if it meant you could sing like them. Studying with THEIR voice teacher must be the answer, right? Meh... I'll answer that with a strong "maybe." If that singer is a strong pop belter, and you're strictly a lyric soprano, then you might be setting yourself up for disappointment. As fabulous as a music teacher might be, they don't have a magic wand. No matter how hard you work and practice, and no matter how many voice lessons you might take... you can't make a tuba sound like a piccolo.  Look at the students that teacher has, and the TYPES of voices they work best with. If you're a bass baritone, but all your friends (who are sopranos) study with one teacher, maybe look beyond your friends and see what that teacher is doing with other bass baritones.  Also, as you're researching your teachers, look them up online. Yes, facebook stalk them, look for youtube videos, hear THEM sing as well. Where did they go to college? Are they a voice major, or a piano major that became a musical director and now offers voice lessons. (PS, piano majors who became musical directors make GREAT vocal coaches and audition prep coaches... but maybe not the best when it comes to technique... more on that later.) 

"I heard someone tell me that you should study with a teacher that has the same voice type."  FALSE. Please refer to my first point above. If you are studying with a teacher and you are making efficient progress with them, then you are with the right teacher! One of my strengths is working with adolescent, teenage voices. I just love doing it, and I can teach them how to treat their voices safely, as it's going through some big changes. So if "study only with people that have the same voice type" was an actual rule, then all teenage boys with a cambiata (changing) voices, would be studying with other teenage boys. 

Before this blog post begins to ramble-on too much, I should close with what I think is the last piece of important advice when picking a new voice teacher. Make sure you feel like you have a good relationship, and that you're comfortable with them. Voice lessons are where you are most vulnerable. When you're standing in front of your voice teacher, is when you do your WORST singing. Think about that... it's true! Your voice teacher will hear you at your worst in their studio, so they can help you sound your BEST before you get onstage. You must feel comfortable enough to have that teacher tell you to lay on the ground, jump up and down, flail your arms about, do push-ups, move furniture and hold their hands while singing arpeggios. 

Now, happy hunting! 

 

Tim Evanicki