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Finding the right singing teacher for you is tricky, especially as it will likely be a significant investment of time and money as you learn to sing, so of course, you want to get this right from the get-go. So, we have put together 5 steps to help you find the right teacher for you.
Step 1: How do you learn best?
Learn to sing visually: If you are someone who learns best by viewing charts and diagrams, then you might benefit from having a teacher whose explanations of singing concepts are aided by models of the larynx, laryngoscopy videos where we can see the larynx and vocal folds move and spectrograms which record frequencies of the voice, giving the student and teacher a visual insight into pitch and voice quality.
Learn to sing aurally: The do as I do approach. Miles Davis, the legendary trumpet player, said, "first you imitate, then you innovate", why should learning to sing be any different from learning the trumpet? This is probably how most of us learn best because we are hard-wired to learn through imitation. Knowing how to speak is not written in our DNA; we learn to talk by imitating the people around us, so it makes sense to do the same for singing.
Learn to sing verbally: When a student comes in for their class and says, "I was watching this vocal coach on Instagram, and they said this… can you unpack that for me", to which I'm like, "great, let's discuss" Here, both teacher and student are learning together. When a student goes beyond the class and brings evidence of doing their own research, learning becomes exciting.
Learn to sing physically: Singing's worst enemy is tension, and sometimes pressure can only be tackled by physical release, body alignment and reducing those habitual tensions in the body. For actors who are used to being physical with the voice, this could be the way for you.
Learn to sing psychologically: There is a saying that all roads lead to the larynx, meaning that emotions, experiences, memories, physical pain, people's opinions of you and your views of yourself can all have an involuntary impact on the performance of the larynx in some way or another, hindering you from producing the sound you want. Cue the holistic vocal coach and their wax on wax off approach to vocal coaching. Suppose you are someone who holds onto a lot of fears around singing and performance or who has noticed a drop in vocal quality after a traumatic experience. In that case, the holistic vocal coach could be an excellent choice for you.
Step 2: Where to look
Vocal coaches have taken to social media in droves, and there is no better place for you to gauge personalities and teaching style to find one you feel you would connect with. Another option you have is doing a bit of research into teachers who teach at music schools and colleges in your area as often visiting tutors have their own studios. At City Vocal Coach, we regularly teach at The BRIT School for Performing Arts, where we get to teach so many great up and coming artists.
Step 3: Online or not online?
After being thrown into communicating only online for the best part of last year, one thing is clear; online singing teaching is entirely possible, incredibly focused and highly effective. So much so that many of our students have decided that they will continue online lessons even after the studio is open. Online singing lessons used to be just for international students; however, now that we have the technology to be able to hear the intricacies of the voice, it's become a great way to fit a lesson into our busy lives, making lessons cost-effective due to not having to travel to and from your teacher's studio.
Online lessons are also great if you're a little nervous about singing face-to-face; even though there is someone on the screen, it's not quite as daunting.
At City Vocal Coach, we offer a free online 15-minute discovery session; this is an excellent option for you to test out whether you feel online lessons might work for you. It will also mean we can iron out some of those online lesson bugs before you have your first complete session.
Step 4: Prepare
Don't come to your first singing lesson empty-handed; make sure you have a good think about what you love about your voice and which areas you feel need work. Your singing teacher will never tell you that your sound/style is wrong, but that it is what makes you unique. Learning to sing does not mean changing your sound; it means enhancing it, giving you the tools to develop it if you want and making sure you create it healthily.
Step 5: Embrace the techniques
Coming in for the first lesson, you'll be expected to sing in front of someone new, so we understand that it's going to be a nerve-wracking experience, at least at first. And there may be moments in the session you question why you're putting yourself through it, but the more you embrace it, the more you'll enjoy the experience. At City Vocal Coach, we believe it's essential to take our students through the mechanics of the voice and isolate specific mechanical movements through the use of play sounds like ay, gee, ng, sobbing, crying, and our favourite, the silent laugh. When it's your first lesson, and we're asking you to silently laugh, we know how silly it sounds; however, bear with us, and you'll soon hear and feel the benefits of doing this by the end of the lesson.
It's a big step, deciding you're going to learn to sing, and by following these 5 steps to finding the right singing teacher for you'll have a great head start.
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