The Deal About Voice Lessons

What makes a good teacher and lesson?

I was thinking it over on my drive over to see Ken Orsow, my vocal teacher, what makes a good voice teacher and what makes a good lesson? I think it depends as much on the student as it does the teacher. You really need to find a good match for your style and needs. And the teacher has to have a great ear, be compassionate and have the technique down, not necessarily in that order!

I love learning and sharpening my skills. I am always on a quest for self-knowledge and understanding and I want to be the best I can be at whatever endeavor I set myself to. Continuing my musical education has been rewarding, challenging and fun.

I’ve had about 6 voice teachers so far in my life. There are some excellent teachers out there,  but two of them really stand out as ones that work well for me. And I think that’s because I not only got lucky and found teachers who are great at what they teach, but also great at communicating what they know, in a way that I can really grasp and apply to my voice.

All of us learn how to do things differently.  It depends on whether someone is more attuned to kinesthetic, auditory or visual learning. Personally, I learn best using both kinesthetic and auditory modes. I discoverd this when I studied Neuro-Linguistic Programming with Lindagail Campbell. “In NLP we know that each person has a unique style of learning, perceiving and responding to the world.” Lindagail Campbell. If you don’t know about NLP, check Lindagail out. I think she is a master teacher and an incredible woman. Anyone would be lucky to learn from her! There are ways to intuit what style most fits you. And there are many youtuble videos and sites devoted to helping you figure it all out.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing your vocal teacher. I recommend trying out at least one lesson before committing to a series of lessons.

1. How do I learn? By asking yourself this basic question, you will get so much further with your lessons! It is really important to understand yourself when deepening your knowledge. Personally I like to be familiar with how the mechanics of the voice work. And I need someone who can really communicate clearly so that I can visualize what he or she is saying and apply that action my vocal chords, diaphragm, glottis, and resonating points. Seeing a diagram of the interior of a head and throat can be really helpful in understanding how things work.

Anatomy of the voice

Anatomy of the voice

2. Do I feel comfortable with the teacher? You need to be able to both fail and succeed in front of your teacher. You need to feel comfortable enough to make mistakes and learn from them. Your teacher should both support your learning and help you to feel successful.

3. Does the teacher speak your learning language style? I once had a piano teacher that just didn’t know how to teach from the beginners mind. He knew how to play, but not how to transfer the knowledge to me. It was such a frustrating experience! Make sure you understand your teacher and that they understand you!

4. What are your goals? Do you want to sing theater, opera, blues, jazz, rock etc? Find a teacher who excels in the area that you are passionate about. And also crosses over into different vocal styles. They need to be able to sing you examples of what you are learning!

5. What makes a good lesson? Learning how to improve yourself, getting accurate feedback and feeling successful. I think coming away with a great practice tape and knowing exactly what to do with it is crucial. Practicing everyday and returning at least once a week to your teacher is an awesome way to hone your skills.

Lastly, you need to feel and hear improvements in your voice, and with each successive lesson get better and better. You may not have the ear to really hear yourself at first. But by the end of 3 to 4 weeks you should notice some positive changes! Bad habits can be pretty ingrained and give yourself the time and dedication to wotk them out of your system! It can take months.

All the best and thanks for listening,

Annie xox

~ by anniemacmusic on August 5, 2009.

5 Responses to “The Deal About Voice Lessons”

  1. Nice post, Annie. I love that you’re blogging more—it’s cool to see this facet of your personality unfold. Love you.

  2. wow, thanks for posting this information and image, i really don’t know “Anatomy of the voice”

  3. This is a great post! I am a voice teacher and I have a Certification Program for singers to become voice teachers of my method (The Powell Method). I would love to be able to make this post available to my potential students and instructors. Can we chat about that?

    • Hi Katti,

      Thanks so much for your kind words. Sorry we were unable to connect by phone. I’d be happy to have you link my post to your site. Great good luck with your voice program, it sounds great!

      All the best,

      Annie McIntyre

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