Many of the singers I encounter have never taken any kind of private voice lessons. Although they may have experienced some vocal training through different singing groups they were a part of, most singers I meet, unless they were majoring in music at some point, have never found themselves in a position where is seemed necessary or feasible to sign up for voice lessons. I understand this completely and would like to address some of the reasons why you may or may not be a good candidate for private lessons.
To help get you started, please take this brief quiz:
- Is singing an important part of your life?
- Do you have any discretionary funds that could be used for voice lessons?
- Do you have 4-5 hours a week to invest in practicing?
- Are you experiencing any pain or discomfort during or after singing?
- Do you like your current tone quality?
- How comprehensive is your understanding of breath support?
- If you feel you understand breath support well, are you confident that you are using it correctly?
- Do you struggle with maintaining proper pitch?
- Do you often find that you run out of breath?
- Would you like to develop your own personal style?
- Do you need more confidence when you’re singing?
- Would you like to learn how to present yourself and your songs better?
I believe it’s very important to assess where you are with your voice, and specifically how big of a deal it is to you in your life. If you answered “yes” to question #1, then great! A voice teacher can help you learn to think like a singer and achieve your vocals goals.
Question #2 addresses a very practical element if you are considering voice lessons. Since it’s imperative that you study with a qualified teacher, you need to be prepared to pay the going rate for your area to get a good teacher. It will be worth it in the long run. Many students who opt for the “cheap” way out often end up feeling frustrated with lack of progress, or worse, learning bad or harmful technique.
If you answered yes to #3, lessons could really work for you. Practicing can help to get you into a vocal routine which can help you in many ways, as well as help you build your skills quickly. However, if this is one you answered “no” to, then I think you should seriously reconsider if this is the right time for you to invest in lessons. Practice is a necessary part of making progress with voice lessons. If you can’t invest the time, then I suggest you wait until you can.
If you said yes to question #4 then you definitely need to address your vocal issues or they may get worse. Getting voice lessons with a qualified teacher will definitely help you resolve this issue.
Questions 5-12 are related to vocal technique. These are reasons that could motivate you to want to take voice lessons, but without questions 1-3 addressed I’m afraid it will be pointless to start. Many singers would love to take lessons but quickly become discouraged when they realize the amount of time and money they will have to invest to actually their goals. Although there are some techniques that can be achieved relatively quickly, others can take time. Some techniques you currently use may have to be unlearned before you can apply new, healthier techniques. It can even feel as though you are moving backward rather than forward. (This is usually only for a brief time)
What Will I Learn?
It’s important to know what you’d actually like to achieve if you want to make the most of your time with a vocal coach. If you come prepared with set of goals, you can make your vocal coach’s job much easier. Make it clear what you’d like to focus on, and which things you aren’t particularly interested in. If you approach your time in this manner you may find that you can sign up for a specified period of time rather than an endless series of lessons. That said, once you start working with a coach, please realize that your goals may change. Your coach may see some things that need to change in your technique, and he/she may feel that fixing those things first might be of greater benefit than the issues you initially had in mind. So although you want to stay on track and accomplish what you set out to accomplish, I suggest you recognize that your goals may necessarily change as you delve further into your study.
Are lessons for you? Only you can know for sure!
Tune in next month for “An Interview with a Vocal Coach” as we explore what a vocal coach will expect from you.