Let’s say you’ve decided to invest in yourself and your career by taking voice lessons. How do you choose the right teacher? After all, there are many, many teachers out there. You could waste a lot of time and money by studying with someone who is under-qualified or a bad fit. But it’s so confusing! Some claim to teach the “only” correct technique, while others promise to make you a star overnight. How do you separate truth from hype? Here are some considerations to take into account.
- What kind of background and experience does the teacher have? Look at the teacher’s website for evidence of school degrees, performing experience, and certifications. For example, NATS – The National Association of Teachers of Singing – does a basic vetting of members and teachers and requires they adhere to a code of ethics. SVW – Somatic Voicework ™ (The Lovetri Method) is an internationally recognized vocal technique that offers three levels of teaching certificates. (I have Level III.) You can use the NATS or SVW websites to research qualified teachers in your area.
- Does the teacher teach functional technique? Functional technique is vocal training based on what the muscles in the body are actually doing in the process of making sound; in other words, it’s based on science, not mythology. While in my opinion, SVW – Somatic Voicework ™ is the best, it’s not the only functional method. If you can’t tell from the teacher’s website, ask questions during your trial lesson or consultation about your voice and the teacher’s approach, and see if the answers satisfy you. If they sound vague or nonsensical, try someone else.
- Does the teacher have a demonstrated track record? How many years of experience does the teacher have? Do you know anyone who has studied with them, and do they sing well? Alternatively, are there credible testimonials on the teacher’s website?
- Does the teacher understand your genre? If you are a singer of jazz, pop, rock or other contemporary styles, make sure you don’t choose someone with a strictly classical background. There is a difference, and you want to improve your technique, not end up sounding like an opera star! The reverse is true of course, which is why when people approach me who want to learn to sing classical repertoire, I refer them to a qualified colleague.
- Can the teacher sing? While there are many factors that affect whether someone has a successful singing career or not, your teacher should have at least demonstrated enough commitment to their voice to learn to sing well. Listen to recordings or videos if available, or look for evidence of performance experience in their bio.
- Is it a good fit? Finally, you need to have a basic rapport to be able to work well together. Many teachers offer trial lessons or consultations so you can get acquainted. Trust yourself and make sure it feels right.
I hope this short article helps you to gain more clarity in your search for voice training. While I recognize that I’m not the right teacher for everyone, do contact me to set up a “get acquainted” session if you’d like to explore working together in person or via Skype.