Welcome to Vocal Wednesdays! For the last 8 months I have been sharing some great vocal warm-ups with all of you! I really enjoy explaining the benefits and tips of each vocal warm-up. Warm-ups are great, but as one reader recently pointed out, it can only take you so far. Finding a reputable, kind and knowledgeable voice teacher that you trust is PARAMOUNT for true vocal success. So if you have been practicing my vocal warm-ups and are looking to have a more personalized instruction today is the day! I am going to help you find a great voice teacher. Let’s start!
What level are you at?
Here is a guideline for determining what level singer you may be.
Beginner– You have never taken lessons before or for only a short time (2 years or less). You have sung in a choir, but not much solo singing. You may struggle with matching pitch, reading rhythms and managing your breath.
Intermediate- You have had at least 2 years of voice lessons. You have performed in several recitals, concerts or gigs. You can sing pitches and rhythms accurately most of the time. If you are a classical singer, you have sung in at least two or three other languages.
Advanced– You have had at least 4 years of voice lessons at the collegiate level or equal performance experience. If you are a classical singer, you are comfortable singing in German, French and Italian. Ideally, you have taken at least one semester of these languages and diction courses in all of them. You have sung several opera arias. At this point, you are more solid in your vocal technique and are looking to fine tune your presentation in preparation for work as a singer.
Now that you have determined your level you need to determine what makes a reputable teacher.
What to look for in a teacher
What qualifications are important to you? Here is a list of what I am looking for in a teacher based on the levels of singing described above.
For a Beginner I would want the teacher to have:
- An undergraduate degree in Music or Vocal Performance
- Performed solo recitals, concerts or gigs
- Taken a Vocal Pedagogy course or seminar
For an Intermediate I would want the teacher to have:
All of the above qualifications PLUS
- Teaching for a minimum of 5 years.
For an Advanced I would want the teacher to have:
All of the above qualifications PLUS
- A Master’s in Vocal Performance or Vocal Pedagogy
- A Membership with the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS)
- Been teaching for a minimum of 15 years
- Students who are successful singers
Now that we have covered your level and what to look for you need to know…
Where do I look?
Local Music Store or Music Studio
If you are a beginner, this is one of the best places to look for voice lessons. Sometimes teachers teach directly out of the music store, other times the store maintains a list of teachers you can contact. Don’t be afraid to ask what the teachers training is. ANYONE can claim they teach voice. Even as a beginner, you want to work with someone who will properly lay the foundations for your success.
There is a wealth of information online for singing lessons, this is a sampling. When perusing the internet, ALWAYS double check the quality of the information.
vocalability.com by Brian Lee. He does both in-studio coaching and online. He offers both voice lessons and coaching. Brian has an eclectic musical background and has studied the voice in depth. Check out his blog to get an idea of his approach to singing.
takelessons.com – This is a marketplace for people looking to take lessons in music, dance, make-up, yoga – you name it. Teachers are given a background check and their only qualification to teach is they must be teaching a course in their given subject. I’m not sure how that is checked, but needless to say, you can find a local teacher and an online teacher. After a quick search in my area I found a qualified teacher who would fit the Beginner/Intermediate level in my town. Be sure to check their bio and send them any questions regarding their teaching or singing experience if you have any doubts.
newyorkvocalcoaching.com – Justin Stoney is the founder of this website. He has a whole team of highly qualified instructors. His qualifications for teaching are impeccable. Check it out! (BTW – one of their teachers totally reminds me of Bob Harper! :))
freeonlinesingingslessons.com – This site is an example of where NOT to go. They offer absolutely no information about who is teaching the lessons other than a name and a form to sign up for their course. Steer Clear!
youtube – there is a wealth of how to sing videos, but the quality is HIGHLY variable. ALWAYS check the teachers credentials/website before subscribing to what they are teaching/selling.
College or University
This is the BEST place to look for teachers who are accomplished for those of you who are advanced singers. The college or university has already vetted these individuals and hired them to teach at a high level. Check out faculty bios online and if you find one that intrigues you, send them an email and request a lesson. Unfortunately, these faculty are also very busy so it is possible they may not be taking new students. As my mom always says- you won’t know unless you ask!
If you struck out at your local music store, you could email voice faculty and see if they would suggest a graduate student or upper level undergraduate who is teaching lessons to beginners or intermediate students.
One thing I would like you to consider: You can find a reputable teacher that doesn’t fit you personally. Give the lessons a month or maybe two and if you are not enjoying your lessons or are finding that you and the teacher are not a great fit, discontinue lessons and find another teacher. Lessons are a great investment and you must be proactive in finding a teacher that fits.
There you have it! Please message me on Facebook or let me know in the comments if you have ANY questions about finding a voice teacher, I am happy to help!
Side note: I am not accepting students at this time.