Finding a Good Vocal teacher

QUESTION FROM READER

I'm taking voice lessons but it seems like everytime I sing my voice gets shaky and it cracks a little bit. What can I do to stop that problem?

MY COMMENTS

You're experiencing a very common problem if our emails are any indication...Lessons, but alas, no results!  So what should I do?  If I had a nickel for every time I've heard some version of this question, I'd be Donald Trump.  You are paying for lessons and NOT getting good results.  Without throwing stones, I have to place the responsibility with...YOU.

You have to take full responsibility for your own training.  And you must find the right teacher to facilitate that training.  "Well, how do you know I don't have the right teacher, Sharon?"  Because IF you had the right teacher, you wouldn't feel like you had to write in to get this question answered.  The issues would be getting addressed RIGHT NOW, BY YOUR TEACHER.  If you find the right teacher, they operate with the advantage of hearing and seeing you.  Therefore, they'll much more easily be able to address your exact problems.  This seems like it should go without saying but...THAT'S WHAT YOU SHOULD EXPECT FROM A TEACHER YOU ARE PAYING!!

GOOD NEWS...BAD NEWS

The BAD news is that ANYONE can just call themselves a voice teacher and start charging for lessons regardless of whether they know what they're doing or not. (Since American Idol began, "voice teachers" have sprung up everywhere seemingly overnight.)  But how do you know if they are effective or not? (By the way, this goes DOUBLY for forum posts!  All someone has to do is sound CONFIDENT in what they post on forums and the less experienced people on the forum say "wow, it sounds like he knows what he's talking about.") Again, how do you find out if they are effective? Selecting a teacher affiliated with NATS is a good start.

So what's the good news?  The GOOD news is that we live in a FREE country where you can choose to shop around until you find a voice teacher or coach that delivers the results you need.  It can be expensive, of course.   And too much shopping can lead to more voice problems.  Each time you go to a new teacher, you will pay for a lesson, whether it's a good lesson or not.  But here's an obvious tip:  Don't EVER pay for a SECOND bad lesson!  Keep looking until you find someone who can hand you real results.

AWESOME, GRAND, GOOD NEWS

Wouldn't it be good if you could "sample" the lessons without risking an arm and a leg?  What if a voice teacher weren't so secretive and self-preserving that they would let you "try before you buy?" Well, there is more GOOD news on that topic.  First of all, there is a teacher that will GUARANTEE their lessons from day one.  If you go in for a lesson and don't see some positive movement, there is no charge to you--not even for that FIRST lesson.  WHO are these teachers? They are Kaye Vocal Associates.  They stand by their product (their teaching) and if the student was dissatisfied, they would insist that the student NOT pay.  The Kaye Vocal Studio has a full calendar, so why would they offer such a policy?   Because they are extremely confident in their method; and none of them has had a first-timer walk out dissatisfied…And because it's JUST THE RIGHT THING TO DO.  The PROBLEM is that Kaye Vocal Associates are in Silicon Valley.  So except for phone and video-Skype lessons, you're required to be physically in California to study with a live coach.

SHOULD I TAKE LESSONS?

The answer is, "If you want to get better than you are right now, YES."  The next question is "where and how?"  Just like one medical doctor is not that same as the next medical doctor, one voice coach is not the same as the next.  You must find the right teacher who teaches a method that works.

If you find such a teacher, then GO.

Looking at a vocal teacher's website is one thing, but it's important to spend time asking questions and really listening to the answers.

Here are questions to ask when interviewing a new voice teacher:
  • Do you require auditions to be considered for your studio?
  • What age students do you teach?
  • What kind of teacher do you consider yourself?
  • Can you tell me whether I have what it takes to be a professional performer?
  • What is the format of your lessons?
  • How long should I take voice lessons?
  • How often and how long should I practice?
  • What are your fees for your services?
  • How do you handle fee payments?
  • What hours are you available to teach?
  • What level of expertise do you teach?
  • What style of music do you teach?
  • What is your background, education and experience?