Confusing isn’t it. You’re browsing the internet looking for a singing teacher, sitting on the bus, in the office, in the bath scrolling down websites wondering who will transform your life. You have a dream – a darkened Theatre, every seat taken, breathless hush, you, in a spot light on stage sinting your heart out. The song finishes, the orchestnlband/piano/ guitar play the final chord – thunderous applause. You are Adele, Pavarotti, Nina Simone, Bob Dylan. You know you can sing as well as anyone you’ve seen or heard. Or you used to sing at school, you joined choirs, sang in a band, sang for your supper then bang, life and all its demands swamped you. Your passion to sing evaporated, nibbled away into a dull ache. Until today. Today you know life is too short to have regrets to fulfil your dreams. Today you are going to begin the search for a singing teacher, someone with the magic key to release or bring back the feeling, the sound that made your heart spin – your voice; someone to help you to take that first step. Who-ever you are, what-ever your experience or lack of it, there is a teacher for you.
What are the qualities you want in a singing teacher? Experience, empathy, enthusiasm, imagination, communication skills? Of course. Beyond those qualities the answer to that question is dependent on why you want to take singing lessons. Huh, you respond, I wouldn’t be browsing the web if I didn’t know that. I want to improve my singing voice. Great. What sort of songs do you sing? What type of songs do you want to sing? Pop, jazz, musical, classical, contemporary folk? You don’t need to know the answer. Singing is a journey of discovery through music, a journey about you. But if you know which style sets your feet a-tapping and your heart spinning, look for someone who specialises in that area.
You’ve been asked to sing at a wedding you have an audition, the song you want to sing has a few awkward areas, you need help. You want to shine the piece to performance standard. Your voice is “rust/. You are looking for someone who can give you exercises to warm your voice and accompany you. Maybe you’d like to extend your repertoire or just take a few lessons toward the occasion. Some teachers accompany many don’t. An ability to play the piano or not has nothing to do with the ability to teach singing. They are different skills, often combined to a greater or lesser degree. I would not advise singing to a pre-recorded accompaniment. The style and tempo might force you to sing in a way that doesn’t suit you. Look for a teacher who has the skills to meet your goal within the time limits.
Technical help. Every voice has its strengths and weaknesses but some require more help than others. Problems can arise from singing incorrectly, from poor advice, from imitating others. There is a list of questions on my website. Check them out. Do any of these questions resonate with you? If they do, look for a teacher who has sufficient experience to recognise the “problem”, someone able to help you understand how it happened and how to correct it. When you’ve found the person you want to contact, email or telephone and do your best to explain your vocal concerns. This may take time. A bit of “suck and see”. Be patient. Be vigilant.
Who-ever you are, what-ever you’re experience or lack of it, you are looking for a teacher enabled to enable you. To communicate clearly the processes of thinking required to support and thus “hee” your voice. A professional, experienced teacher who, although you long to sing like Billy Hollday, Pavarotti or Adele, can open avenues which help you to find out what sort of singer you are, your unique sound as individual as your thumb print. The teacher you can entrust with your gifts and dreams.
Guiding principle – if during or at the end of your singing lesson you feel either confused or discouraged, this teacher is not the right one for you. lf you feel discomfort or pain either during or after your lesson, again, this is definitely the wrong teacher for you. At the end of your lesson you should feel encouraged, re-energised and happy, endorphins pumping round your body. You have made an appointment with a teacher to help you sort out difficulties in singing & you should leave the session clearer about the “how” than when you came in. How it happened and how it will be remedied. The exercises and explanations given make sense.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I hope you have found something to stir your thoughts, to encourage you forward.
ln future blogs I will focus on teaching. I will delve deeper into aspect of developing and nurturing the singing voice.
Good luck and have fun.