What Will My Child’s Voice Lesson Be Like? | Tips for Parents


Has your young son or daughter been begging you for voice lessons? Find out what to expect in kids’ singing lessons in this guest post by Saint Augustine, FL voice teacher Heather L


A voice teacher walks into a living room and puts her guitar case down. She takes the guitar out, and as she tunes it, she asks the student in front of her about general music classes at school, hoping to incorporate the concepts being taught into the private instruction. Beginning on a comfortable pitch for the student, the teacher begins warm up exercises — singing a five-note scale on silly, nonsense syllables. Both the student and the teacher laugh. The lesson continues with the do-re-mi syllables, known as solfege, accompanied by their reinforcing hand signals. Voice techniques and concepts are taught in playing games. Phrasing is discovered in pretending to ride a roller coaster. Dynamics (how loud or soft a musical sound is) are understood in terms of powerful, large animals and delicate, small animals. Lip trills are blown and dancing is choreographed.

This is the voice lesson of a five-year-old child. When I began teaching kids’ singing lessons, what surprised me the most was how similar adult and child voice lessons are. Make-believe, movement, and imagination are an inherent element of all of my voice lessons. Granted, there are some really important distinctions, too. Just as there are similarities and dissimilarities between coaching a Little League team and the Boston Red Sox, voice lessons of adults and children share some things and not others.

Staying Focused, Staying Healthy

To begin, children do not have the physical stamina or mental focus of most adults. Their instruments are extremely delicate. It should be made clear that not every music educator agrees that children under 10 should even take voice lessons, and agree or not, not every voice teacher or music school accepts singers who are that young. I, myself, was once told as a high school freshman by a well-respected choir director not to take any voice lessons until I turned 20. What he did not understand is that kids’ singing lessons do not have to be damaging. In fact, it can prevent poor singing and speaking habits and, even more, permanent vocal damage.

Teaching the Fundamentals

The primary purpose of my voice lessons for young children is the establishment of fundamental musical and technical understanding, with the goal of a lifetime of healthy singing. Basic note reading, with an emphasis on sight reading and solfege syllables, basic diction, and basic voice maintenance and care are the three pillars of every student’s individual curriculum. Especially considering the popularity of automated sounds in music today that are made to sound like human singing, it’s so important that children learn the truth about their own voices before they start to imitate computer sounds all the time.

I do not, as a principle, believe in condescendingly “dumbing” concepts down for children. There is a way, though, to explain almost everything in an age-appropriate manner. I admit, though, I do get stumped sometimes, especially when I find myself having to describe how a diaphragm works to a first grader. But there’s always a way.

Creating a Positive Environment

After all of the education-specific talk, perhaps the most important thing to me as a teacher is positive and compassionate encouragement of where the student is today, musically speaking. Embracing and in turn teaching the child to embrace his singing right now is the surest path to a lifelong pursuit of great singing.

HeatherLHeather L. teaches singing, piano, acting, and more in St. Augustine, FL, as well as through online lessons. She is a graduate of the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and has performed with the New York and Royal Philharmonics, the New Jersey and Virginia Symphonies, the American Boy Choir, and the internationally renowned opera star Andrea Bocelli. Learn more about Heather here!



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3 Timeless Songs to Sing to Improve Your Technique

14323383901_89e829ce0d_kMove over, Top 40! In this guest post by Newport Beach, CA teacher Patricia S., you’ll learn three songs to sing that are both timeless and can help you work on your singing technique…


You don’t need to repetitively practice dull vocal exercises in order to learn good singing technique. And you don’t need to completely eliminate vocal style from your singing in order to train your technique. Technique and style can coexist in the training process, and are best developed simultaneously.

The Rules & Guidelines

• Anything you sing can be used as a vocal exercise.
• A vocal exercise can be treated as though it were a song.
• A song should be learned by breaking it into bits of technique and bits of style, and reassembling it as both, separately. Then fuse the two into your finished product.
• Your technical song and your stylized song will sound completely different from each other.
• Just as there is efficient and less efficient vocal technique, there are efficient and less efficient ways to apply vocal style.
• Technique without style is a dull performance.
• Style without technique is an incomplete performance, and can lead to vocal deterioration.
• Technique enhances style. Style informs technique.

The following three timeless and enduringly popular songs to sing are particularly well-suited to developing sound singing practices. And they can be stylized in a variety of ways.

“Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Weiss, Peretti, and Creatore

“Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Weiss, Peretti, and Creatore is one of the best songs to sing for learning to release long notes. Singing a long note while maintaining clear and even tone quality is one hallmark of good singing. When singing diphthongs, as in the word “my,” you’ll want to be sure to separate the two vowel sounds to keep from supporting the sound with your jaw or tongue, or overly supporting with your abdomen. Maintaining that true tone quality as the melody moves stepwise up or down is also important. The song covers the range of an octave plus two notes. Singing the song in two or three keys is a great way to work on intonation throughout the voice range, as well as learn to negotiate the breaks or register shifts that sit in the middle of the main melody.

“Unchained Melody” by North and Zaret

The ever-popular tune “Unchained Melody” by North and Zaret is excellent for making interval maneuvers up or down with clear tone quality and rhythmic accuracy, and keeping every note in tune. For extra fun, try singing the Italian version of the song, “Senza Catene”. The pure Italian vowels are conducive to good singing. You don’t need to speak Italian to sing in Italian. Singing in another language can actually help turn the focus of your practice to technique, over performance. A singer who is unable to emotionally detach from the words of a song in order to do the detail work of simply making it sound good, and who can’t separate performance style from technique, might benefit from this approach.

“Ave Maria”

A vocal selection that emerged in recent times and gained popularity is the “Ave Maria” written by Vladimir Vavilov in the 1970s and erroneously attributed to Baroque composer Giulio Caccini. The long lines in this song require a centered tone, coupled with well-managed breath and support. While the song might appeal more to classical singers, the simplicity of the tune and chord structure could lend themselves nicely to an R&B rendering, or a light jazz setting. Adventurous popular genre singers take note: you might have something unique to add to the mix.

It isn’t what you sing that matters. It’s how you sing what you sing that matters. Establish a primary technique that you can count on and that you can fall back on as your mainstay if some of your vocal stylings fail you. But don’t let go of the stylistic singing that makes what you do what you love to do.

Patricia SPatricia S. teaches piano, singing, music performance, and more in Newport Beach, CA. Patricia S. has taught voice for Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA), Gold Coast Theatre Conservatory, Crestmont Conservatory of Music, and the California State University Dominguez Hills Music Conservatory. Learn more about Patricia here!



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Ariana Grande

How to Belt Without Straining Your Voice

Ariana Grande

Curious about how to belt safely? Read on for tips from Ann Arbor, MI voice teacher Elaina R


If you flip on Top-40 radio these days, you hear a lot of belting. But just because Ariana Grande and Bruno Mars sound great belting their lungs out doesn’t mean you know how to belt without straining your voice. In fact, if you’ve ever been to a karaoke bar, or seen a pop star live, you’ve probably heard how strained and painful belting can sound.

So, what is belting anyway? And is it possible to learn how to belt without straining your voice? The answer may surprise you.

What is Belting?

The voice has two main registers: chest voice and head voice (also known as falsetto in men). Chest voice is the voice that you talk in (the lower register), while head voice is the voice that Mickey Mouse talks in (the higher register).

The Science Behind Belting

The different vocal qualities of head and chest voice are due to a physical change. There are two sets of muscles that control the vocal cords: the thyroarytenoid muscles and the cricothyroid muscles. The thyroarytenoid muscles shorten the vocal cords, causing chest voice. The cricothyroid muscles lengthen the vocal cords, causing head voice.

Belting occurs when a singer sings higher pitches using chest voice rather than switching to head voice. This results in a louder, more powerful sound than most people can achieve in low head voice. When done wrong, it just sounds like yelling (yelling is a chest voice function).

Now that you know what belting is, you probably want to know how to belt without straining your voice. First, though, I’m going to divulge a little secret.

Mixing It Up

Trained belters (and some über-talented people) don’t force their thyroarytenoid function past where it is comfortable. Instead, they use their cricothyroids and thyroarytenoids together to create a sound that is part belting, part not. This sound has the same power and sound as belting, but lacks the physical strain and danger of cracking. Because it is a mix of head and chest voice, it is simply called a mix.

Mixing is the reason why Broadway stars can “belt” extremely high every night without losing their voices. It is the reason why some singers, trained or not, seem to be able to belt without hurting themselves. But mixing is a fairly advanced vocal technique, and to really learn how to do it, you need to study with a voice teacher. If your dream is to sing “Let it Go” or “Defying Gravity”, you need to learn how to mix. There are very few people on earth who can actually belt those songs without causing serious vocal trauma.

True Belting

In general, pieces that stay under a C5 are fair game for some (but not all) women to belt without straining. Some men can belt up to G4 or even higher without mixing as well. But where some singers can comfortably belt sans mix, other people will be straining and cracking. Part of this is just because every voice is different. Your natural belting capacity may also get higher if you seek vocal training.

There is no hard-and-fast rule about how high you can belt without hurting yourself. If you want to learn how to belt without straining your voice – and aren’t quite ready to learn how to mix – pick a song you can sing comfortably in chest voice right now. If you sound like you are screeching, don’t do it. If it hurts, don’t do it. You can also choose to do a song in a lower key if the original key is too high.

Belt It Out

Put succinctly, yes, it is possible to learn how to belt without straining your voice. But your favorite belters probably aren’t belting at all – they are using a combination of head and chest voice to achieve a healthy but powerful sound. So my advice to you is simple: stick to comfortable repertoire, or find a good voice teacher to help you develop your mix. Your voice (and your neighbors!) will thank you.

ElainaElaina R. teaches opera voice and singing in Ann Arbor, MI, as well as through online lessons. She is currently working on a Master of Music at the University of Michigan, and she has a B.M. from the University of Southern California. Learn more about Elaina here!



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band practice

The Real Secret to Improving Your Band’s Sound

band practice

Do you want your band to sound even better? (Who doesn’t?!) Here, San Diego, CA teacher Maegan W. shares her secret for improving the group’s sound as well as your individual musical skills…


Do you think a metronome is just a personal preference for some musicians? Are you one of those musicians who KNOWS your time is perfect and unmatched? Well I’ve got news for you — it probably isn’t as spot-on as you think.

Most fights in bands are due to someone being off-time, and unable to accept that it is them. The truth is that most people honestly believe they are on time. As a drummer, I learned a long time ago the only way to know for sure how good your timing really is, is to use a metronome.

I’m not suggesting that you always play, practice, and perform with your metronome — not all music calls for that. What I am suggesting is that you take your musicianship to a whole other level, and take your power back! There is no greater feeling than knowing 100% where each note, beat, lick, and fill fits in the time and space of the song.

Singer-songwriters and guitar players… I’m calling you out. I challenge you to use a metronome when practicing and learning songs. I have played with so many amazingly talented musicians, guitar-playing singer-songwriters who performed and sounded fantastic alone, but when it came to a band setting, they were like complete beginners. Don’t let this be you.

Here are some ideas on how to get comfortable with the metronome as you’re singing or playing guitar with your band:

1) Listen to your songs against the “click.” This will help you to see where everything really lines up, and how much time you actually have to do whatever you want to do or play.

2) Devote at least 10% of your practice routine to practicing with the metronome. I recommend more like 50-90% but baby steps are fine for people not used to practicing with the metronome.

3) If you’re in a band, have “The Talk.” This will hold everyone equally accountable for doing what they can to improve their personal timing, which will improve the band’s time as a whole. Also having a group practice where the drummer listens to a click is helpful too. It instantly builds trust and competence. (If there is a problem member that can’t admit or see their faults, it may be helpful to have some practices where everyone can hear the click through the speakers, to shine light on what needs extra attention.)

4) Be humble. Learning that your timing sucks can be a hard realization, especially for sensitive musicians. This can bruise the ego and come out as anger. Remember the point is not to be “right” or make someone feel defeated. The point is to improve your band’s sound, as well as individual sound. The metronome is the Truth, and sometimes the Truth hurts.

5) Slow down! The best way to really lock down any song, riff, groove, fill, or solo is to slow way down. Take the tempo down to half or 3/4′s of the original tempo and practice in slow motion, to let your brain and muscles learn exactly where everything fits. Do this until your muscle memory learns the movement of the piece. Then when you speed back up, do it gradually in increments of 5 or 10 bpms until you arrive back at the original tempo. Then push past 10 or 20 bpms so you truly have it mastered. You never know when you will need to play it faster or slower, but with this practice, you will be prepared no matter what the speed.

These are just a few ways to incorporate the metronome as you’re playing guitar, singing, or whatever part you play in your band. I hope this is helpful — and remember, it’s about taking baby steps. This is not something you just want to brush off. Being a master at time will make you a more valuable musician, and more confident in your skills too. It may be tough at first, but anything worth learning is.

Go easy on yourself and/or your band. It is challenging, but I know you can do it!

Maegan WMaegan W. teaches drums, songwriting, and more in San Diego, CA. She earned a degree in Percussion from the Musician’s Institute, and has been teaching private lessons since 2004.  Learn more about Maegan here!



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Do Singers Need Metronomes?


As a vocalist, should you practice singing with a metronome at your side? Read on for St. Augustine, FL teacher Heather L.‘s advice… 


Metronomes are devices that produce sounds in regular, pre-chosen rhythms. Many years ago, the only metronomes were simple gadgets. Though the first one that’s even similar to what we now think of as a “modern” metronome was invented in the 19th century, the kind that most adults are familiar with is a mechanical, wind-up metronome. It makes a sound like someone knocking on a small door. Nowadays, nifty electronic metronomes are manufactured on their own, or in a small device combined with a tuner, and they can now even be found online and on your smartphone as an app. They are utterly customizable, and I’m not talking just about the time signature, but even the sound itself.

Pros and Cons of Using a Metronome

So many musicians use a metronome all the time, but there’s always been a lot of debate on whether or not they’re even effective. Supporters of its use say that it helps to encourage an internal sense of rhythm, it helps to keep musicians playing at a constant speed (if they tend to have a tendency to speed up or slow down), and because you can set it to a composer’s indicated tempo marking, you can get a true idea of the speed he or she wanted the piece to be played. Opponents of the metronome claim that it simply creates mindlessly mechanical musicians, devoid of music expressiveness. Over the last decade of teaching piano, I’ve used a metronome sparingly, fearing that students would go insane if I played it incessantly. But recently, I’ve found it more and more useful. Overall, I’ve come to believe that pianists, especially those in the beginner and intermediate stages, need a metronome. But do singers need a metronome?

Using a Metronome for Singing Practice

I taught a voice lesson this morning to a 65-year-old female student. She is a complete beginner who has a lot of promise. Because it’s so important that all of my students learn to sight read, I made sure that I got an intensive session in for her today. In the middle of sight reading melodies, she suddenly asked, “Why is that dot round and without a stem?” She was asking what a whole note is. As I explained note rhythms, and specifically that a whole note is one that’s sung or played for four beats, I realized how much I needed a metronome in that moment. I would’ve played my guitar, the metronome would’ve sounded its steady beat, and my student would’ve heard that steady beat in the background as she sang. As she sang that whole note, she could’ve heard four beats go by. That would’ve reinforced her learning aurally.

Sure, I was able to strum and tap my guitar side to get a similar effect, but what happens to my student tomorrow when she goes to practice singing on her own? She doesn’t play an instrument. And even if she did that doesn’t mean at her beginning stage that she’d be sure to stay consistent in her rhythms.

Yes, music is a living thing, and living things naturally slow down and speed up. Music is a living thing that lives inside us, not on a written page. That page is a guide, a map that shows us the way. But it’s not the way. Rubato, for instance, is an Italian term that means literally “to rob,” and musically, it means to slow down and take time away, so to speak, only to “give it back” and speed up later on. It’s a beautiful thing. But metronomes don’t know rubato. They are faithful, true, and dependable, which is exactly why they’re so important for your musical studies.

Other Ways a Metronome Can Help

Singers need metronomes. A lot of composers and even songwriters include very particular, and even not so particular, tempo markings in their works. These markings go from vague, like “with movement,” to an exact number of beats per minute, like 132. Unless you know just what 132 beats per minute sounds like, when you see that 132 on your page of music, you’ll just be guessing. And have you ever slowed down or sped up in song, without even knowing it? Me, too. Metronomes help.

Think of the last time that you sang with another musician. Did you find yourselves having to take a few minutes to talk about exactly what tempo you’d play? Did you get a little frustrated when someone sped up on his own? A metronome would’ve helped.

In the end, the metronome becomes a trusty friend, there whenever you need it. But someone doesn’t have to be your roommate to be a trusty friend. And your metronome doesn’t have to be a nagging, annoying, or constant companion. You can be simply friends, and what a great friend it is to have.

HeatherLHeather L. teaches singing, piano, acting, and more in St. Augustine, FL, as well as through online lessons. She is a graduate of the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and has performed with the New York and Royal Philharmonics, the New Jersey and Virginia Symphonies, the American Boy Choir, and the internationally renowned opera star Andrea Bocelli. Learn more about Heather here!



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Amazing Dad Learns to Sing for Unforgettable Wedding Song

What’s something you always thought you couldn’t do? What would it feel like to have a breakthrough and discover that there’s really nothing holding you back?

John Butcher, age 50, always thought he was tone deaf until he took voice lessons to perform a surprise song at his daughter’s wedding. After six months of private voice lessons, Butcher was able to deliver a touching and tuneful performance. This video, which was featured on the UK’s Daily Mail website, shows this incredible dad’s wedding reception song performance of “You Were Always on My Mind”. 

Is there a specific wedding reception song that you would love to be able to sing? Or if singing’s not quite your cup of tea, is there a piano piece or guitar song you’d like to learn? Find a teacher near you who can help out!

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sheet music binder

Your Vocal Music Binder | How to Organize Your Sheet Music

sheet music binder

Is your music binder a mess? Here are some tips from New York, NY voice teacher Chelsea F. for keeping things organized…


Imagine you are gathering your go-to items for your audition or lesson when you grab your binder filled with every piece of vocal sheet music you have ever owned, and suddenly the binder slips from your hands. In a split-second all your music flies into the air and is now scattered and disorganized all over the floor… That’s a sure sign it’s time to get organized, especially if you’re regularly working with an accompanist.

Avoid this scenario — and keep your accompanist happy — with these easy steps:

• Start from scratch! Throw away torn and crumpled copies and make new ones, and use white hole reinforcements for extra security in the binder.
 Buy a new binder that is not falling apart! Start with a one-inch or two-inch binder, since it is easier to transport a thinner binder in a bookbag or tote. If the binder is too big and overloaded with music, it may not rest comfortably on the music rack on the piano.
• Make sure your name and phone number are visible either on the outside or inside of the binder in case you misplace it.
• A binder with pockets in the front and/or back is extremely helpful to keep extra headshots, resumes, and any other loose music.
• Eliminate the shiny paper protectors! The glare is difficult for pianists to play with. If you really want to to use the paper protectors, make sure to get the non-glare ones!
• If you sing a variety of genres, color-code the binders. For example — Black: Classical Binder; White: Musical Theater Binder; etc. This way you can grab it easily! You could also make a specific Audition Binder that has a little bit of everything in it!
 If you’re using ONE binder for all of your vocal sheet music, use dividers and labels for each section: Musical Theater, Classical, Art Song, Contemporary, etc.
• Consider adding a “Table of Contents” or “Table of Repertoire” at the front of the binder, so your accompanist can easily find a specific selection in your binder if needed. Then add tabs with labels on the right hand side so the pianist can easily flip to the aria or song. This makes it foolproof!
• If you are set on specific music selections, you can spiral-bind your audition materials in one small booklet, which can be done at FedEd Office, Staples, or your local paper store. Having all of your music in one easy booklet makes it super convenient.
• When putting vocal sheet music in your binder, make sure it is double-sided and none of the accompaniment is cut off at the bottom! You don’t want the pianist to omit something because a copy was cut off or hard to read.

Make your binder your own! Though it maybe overlooked, an organized binder for all your sheet music will take you far!

ChelseaFChelsea F. teaches singing, piano, and music theory in New York, NY. She holds a Bachelor of Music from Cleveland Institute of Music and a Master of Music from Manhattan School of Music. Learn more about Chelsea here!



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5 Great Songs to Sing at a Wedding


Want to impress your friends or family — or perhaps your future husband or wife — with a wedding performance? Here are some ideas for songs to sing at a wedding from Hayward, CA teacher Molly R...


I have worked with many singers who have been asked by a friend or family member to sing at a wedding. It’s a great honor, but it can also be nerve-wracking! While some have been asked to sing a specific song, others need some suggestions on what to sing.

Here are five songs to sing at a wedding, from a wide variety of styles:

1. “Ave Maria” by Franz Schubert

This song has been used for years for good reason. Its vocal line is just plain beautiful! In its original classical adaptation, sung in Latin, it’s a solid option for classically trained voices. There are also pop versions available in various keys, as well as various languages!

2. “All I Ask Of You” from “The Phantom of the Opera”

This is a really great option because it can be sung either as a duet as written for the show (for baritone and soprano), or it can be a more pop-like solo.

3. “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts

This contemporary ballad is ideal for weddings in more casual settings. Country singers need their options, too! Here is a solo version sung by Carrie Underwood.

“When I Fall in Love”

This classic piece is ideal for jazzy voices, beginner/intermediate singers, and more mature voices.

And last, but certainly not least…

“The Wedding Song (There is Love)” by Paul Stookey

This simple but very moving song has been a staple at weddings for almost 45 years! It sounds lovely with guitar accompaniment as well.

Do you need help finding the perfect song to sing at a wedding, or making your chosen solo perfect? There are so many voice teachers that would love to help you. He or she can help you with your diction, phrasing, and overall confidence to prepare you for a marvelous performance on the big day!

mollyrMolly R. teaches online and in-person singing lessons in Hayward, CA. Her specialties include teaching beginner vocalists, shy singers, children, teens, lapsed singers, and older beginners. She joined TakeLessons in November 2013. Learn more about Molly here!



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How To Audition for Solos in Choir Songs in 5 Steps


Ready for your time to shine? Get ready for your upcoming choir audition with these tips from Ann Arbor, MI voice teacher Elaina R


Choir songs are all about group mentality. Singing as part of an ensemble, working on blend and teamwork, is very rewarding. But there are also opportunities to get in the spotlight once in a while, and those can be rewarding too.

Choir songs with solos provide singers with a chance to sing alone – a very different experience than singing as part of an ensemble. If you are thinking about auditioning for a solo in choir, here are a few steps you can take to prepare.

1. Determine if it’s a Good Fit

When solos in choir songs come up, it’s natural to jump at the opportunity. But the truth of the matter is that not all solos will fit your voice.

The first indicator is your voice part in choir; a tenor solo probably isn’t fit for a bass, for example. However, this is not a hard-and-fast rule, since plenty of people can sing higher or lower than they are called on to do in choir.

Do you think you may be a good choice for a solo? Try singing through it, using a keyboard or piano to help you hit the right notes. If the solo feels too high or too low for you, you have your answer. If it feels comfortable, it’s time to go on to Step 2.

2. Learn the Words

Once you’ve decided to audition, take a break from singing and look at the words. Are they in English? If so, read through them and make sure you understand them. If not, look up a translation. You can also read up on the background of choir songs, as well as the context of the piece as a whole, to help you get a better idea of how to sing the solo.

3. Learn the Music

Next, learn the music itself. To make the process easier, learn the rhythm first. Pay attention to the time signature, and try clapping through it. If there are tricky parts, jot down reminders for yourself. When I encounter difficult rhythms in choir songs (or anywhere else), I write the beats in above the staff.

When you’ve mastered the rhythm, play through your part on the keyboard (it’s OK if you aren’t comfortable with the piano as long as you can find your notes). Be sure to note the key signature and play sharps and flats when present.

4. Bring it to a Voice Teacher

A voice teacher can help you sing the solo well by coaching you on phrasing, breaths, and other technical details. Many voice teachers are also well-versed in languages and may offer coaching with pronunciation. To really master solos in choir songs, enlisting professional help is a must.

5. Have a Mock Audition

Do you get nervous about auditions? Join the club! To help assuage your nerves, ask your voice teacher to conduct a mock audition. Practice walking into the room and singing the piece as if you were in an audition. Your teacher will give you feedback to help you look relaxed and sing well, even under pressure.

If you have the opportunity to audition for a choir solo, remember these five steps. See if the solo fits your voice, then learn the words and music. Take the solo to a voice teacher – and conduct a mock audition – for maximum preparedness. This process fully prepares you for the audition so that you can do your best and, with a little luck, enjoy singing your well-earned solo.

ElainaElaina R. teaches opera voice and singing in Ann Arbor, MI, as well as through online lessons. She is currently working on a Master of Music at the University of Michigan, and she has a B.M. from the University of Southern California. Learn more about Elaina here!



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Singing Competition Secrets: Are They Really Worth It?


Thinking about auditioning for a televised singing competition like American Idol? Here, Corona, CA teacher Milton J. shares what could be an even better idea…


For years, we’ve tuned into our favorite singing competitions, voting for our favorites each week, and hoping they win the coveted record deal at the end of the season. We’ve watched as the juggernaut American Idol – a derivative of Pop Idol from Europe – gave way to others like The Voice and X-Factor. Many other worthy (and not-so-worthy) opponents have aimed to get a slice of the reality singing competition show pie. Yet, one thing many of us aspiring performers and singers don’t realize is that local and regional singing competitions are actually a much better start than trying for a television show as your first venture into stardom.

It’s First A TV Show

I first tried out for American Idol at 17 years old. I was wide-eyed, eager, and willing to do whatever it took to get the smile from Paula, the fist pump from Randy, and the tepid accolade from Simon. What I soon realized over my two-day endeavor was that this was about 85% TV production and faux-reality, and only 15% singing competition and talent search. The Voice and X-Factor are no different. That does nothing for the kid who makes it to the round right before getting on television as their first foray into competition. While that didn’t deter me from the performing life at all, it very well could spell doom and gloom for the less-than-strong yet incredibly talented performer. These shows are perfect launching pads, but serve the seasoned performer with an established fanbase that’s larger than their circle of family and friends much better.

Utilize Local and Regional Singing Competitions As a Launching Pad

The best launching pad for the novel performer taking lessons and improving every day is local and online singing competitions. Here in Southern California, a great competition to get your start is the SoCal Icon Annual Solo Vocal Competition. Last year I had a student, Autumn Carter, place second in the Riverside competition, and I will have three others compete next year. In fact, Autumn is readying a callback audition for The Voice this December! Additionally, the YOBISING competition, the Hal Leonard Vocal Competition, and the Singist Vocal Competition are all launching pad-type competitions to help you along the path of becoming a performer.

National Television Singing Competitions Are Still Worthwhile

With all of that said, it is still a worthwhile endeavor to try out for American Idol and The Voice. These shows have established fanbases, solid-enough ratings to warrant new upcoming seasons, and possibilities for stardom that cannot be slighted. However, the best way to maximize your return on these television shows is to come in seasoned with a fanbase ready to be unleashed to propel you to the top.

Are you ready to take the plunge? Find a local TakeLessons instructor today and bring these tips to your first lesson as you and your teacher cultivate your plan to take flight on your dream!

MiltonJMilton K. teaches guitar, piano, singing, music recording, music theory, opera voice, songwriting, speaking voice, and acting lessons in Corona, CA. He specializes in classical, R&B, soul, pop, rock, jazz, and opera styles. Learn more about Milton here!



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