Vocal Coach

Lace Up: How to Train Your Voice Like an Athlete

Tips On How To Train Your VoiceSingers, you’re more like an athlete than you might think. Sound crazy? Here, Los Angeles voice teacher Lorna E. shows how you can train your voice with that in mind…

Have you ever thought of signing up for a marathon if you’re the type that gets tired running for five minutes? I’d say most people wouldn’t take a chance like that.

Many singers, though, believe that they are ready to perform for hours in gigs or rehearsals even without any previous vocal technique endurance. Asking a person to sing during long periods of time without this knowledge is basically like asking someone who doesn’t usually practice running to participate in a long-distance foot race.

Sometimes when we listen to amazing vocalists, they all seem to perform in such a natural way that it almost convinces us that singing is as easy as breathing or chewing gum. In fact, those who are well-trained enjoy their voices with total freedom and without any effort.

But keep in mind – that’s with proper training, similar to what an athlete undergoes before competing. Here are some common questions I’ve received, to help you understand:

  • What is a vocal coach?

A vocal coach will help you improve your vocal technique and endurance, so you can achieve the best results possible. Just as every athlete has his or her own coach, singers also require this kind of support. With a qualified voice teacher, you can learn how to train your voice in a similar way.

  • Why do I need to work out my voice for singing? Isn’t talking every day enough?

It’s important to understand the specific techniques involved in order to get the best results possible for singing. These kinds of vocal “workouts” help teach your body how to behave to be more productive while you build up the strength in the muscles engaged with singing.

For instance, in order to sustain notes and reach higher pitches for a longer period, you need to improve your breath control and strengthen your diaphragm and vocal folds. As your teacher, I can lead you through specific vocal exercises to help with this – the same way a trainer in the gym helps you target specific muscle groups.

  • Why do I experience hoarseness or discomfort while singing or afterwards?

This is a common issue, and is typically caused by not using the proper technique. You may be engaging the wrong muscles to produce the sound, for example.

Singing should be easy, delightful, effortless, and without any pain or strain. Imagine what would happen if any athlete participated in a professional competition without the proper preparation, working out, and specific nutrition.

  • How long will it take until I see the results of my vocal coaching sessions?

You will feel different and improve even after your first session, because you will understand your body and how to sing smarter. Long-term results, such as building muscle strength and adapting to the new techniques might take a couple of months.

  • What might happen if I keep singing without the proper vocal technique?

At the beginning you will notice flaws in your voice and pitch, or experience fatigue. As time goes on, you can cause permanent damage to your vocal folds.

The more you repeat the wrong muscle engagement, the more you increase your chances of suffering vocal damages that can reduce your opportunities as an artist and can lead to more serious health issues like nodules, polyps, and contact ulcers. If not treated correctly, these issues might even require surgery.

On the other hand, if you practice the right way, you can understand how to train your voice so that you can sing more challenging music pieces. Your body holds the treasure of an amazing music instrument ready for you to master it. The right vocal instructor can show you how to explore its possibilities. Then you will feel free to sing as you always dreamed!

  • I already sing well, but I’ve never taken vocal lessons. Is that OK?

Sure, it’s totally OK. If you already sing well without knowing how you are doing it, imagine what you would accomplish with the right training! You already have the most important things: musicality, intuition, passion, and an artistic sense. Vocal technique then will take you even further so that you can become the best singer you can be!

Lorna ELorna E. is a singer, composer and vocal coach in LA. Born in Argentina, she is of English descent, lived in Brazil, and currently resides in Los Angeles, California. As a vocal coach Lorna uses a proprietary method of vocal technique specially created for developing power and highlighting each singer’s personal style. Book lessons with Lorna here!


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Musical Theater

How to Select the Best Song for a Musical Theater Audition

Best Song Choice For Musical Theater Audition Preparing for an audition? Learn how to select your repertoire with these helpful tips from San Jose teacher Alison C.:

Picking out the best song for a musical theater audition is one of the most crucial decisions you’ll make. Your selection must demonstrate not just what a great singer you are, but also your ability and appropriateness for the role you want, your professionalism, and your ability to follow direction.  Of course, once you have your song, you will need to rehearse and coach it to perfection! Here is a criteria list, in descending order of importance, for selecting the best song for an audition. Above all, items #1 and #2 are most important.

1) Follow All Requirements Outlined by the Producing Organization

  • Length (in minutes, seconds, or bars) – Time it!
  • Style/Tempo (upbeat, ballad, blues, pop, legit, etc.) – Give them what they ask for!
  • Format – (CD, flash drive, sheet music, etc.)
  • Make sure karaoke tracks have lead vocal eliminated. They want to hear YOU, not another recording artist.
  • If using sheet music, make sure that all the notes are visible, no cut off lines at the bottom!
  • Sometimes companies specify formats with sheet music.  Follow them!
  • If there is no requested format, taping music back-to-back, 3-hole punching, and putting in a binder is a good way to go. Loose pages can create nightmares!
  • Do not put plastic sleeves over music to protect it.  This can cause glare.
  • Mark all cuts, tempos, vamps, etc.

2) Pick a Song That Makes You Sound Great!

Not the song you wish you could sing, and not the song you will sing well next year… the song you sound great on right now! It’s good to get an objective, experienced set of ears here. Singers often get very attached to a favorite song that is special to them, but it might not be the most the best choice for any given audition.

3) Pick a Song That is in the Style, Range, and character of the role you are auditioning for.

Do your homework and find out what the vocal range of the role is and what style of music they sing. Pick a song that shows that you can do what is needed for the character.

4) Avoid Songs That Are Currently Overdone, or Too Tied to a Particular Star.

  • It’s not to your advantage to be the 50th person to sing the same hit song the directors have heard all afternoon.
  • It’s not to your advantage to be compared to a beloved star.
  • Most musical theatre organizations prefer to hear songs not from the show they are auditioning for.

There are other considerations to make as well, but this is the survival list for top priorities for finding the best audition songs.  When in doubt, consult your voice teacher or coach. They are there to help!

Alison C.Alison C. has taught at San Jose State University, Chabot College, and privately. She has appeared as a featured soloist in Opera, Musical Theatre and Concert throughout the United States, Europe, and China. She holds a B.M. in voice from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and M.A. in vocal performance from San José State University. Learn more about Alison here!


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Proper Singing Posture – What You Need to Know

Before you learn how to breathe, sing, or play any kind of instrument correctly, you need to ensure that you’re creating the proper posture with your body. New singers frequently make the mistake of thinking that singing starts with controlling the vocal cords – those hard-working vocal folds we love to exhaust – but the secret to great singing is understanding how to use your whole body effectively. This starts with proper singing posture, enhanced by correct breathing techniques, and then further clarified by the use of almost every other body part.

As a singer, you need to realize that you, in fact, are your instrument. In this article we will explore the importance of having proper singing posture, and also share a few tips on how you can improve your posture at home. Read more

sight singing

Strategies for Sight Singing

sight singingIt may seem like instrumentalists have it much easier when it comes to sight reading music; by simply pressing a key or a string, the notes are immediately available to them without any additional thought, and all that’s left to them is to work out duration, dynamics, and tempo. Singers, on the other hand, don’t have an instrument to rely on.

Taking a song previously unknown to you and delivering a reasonably accurate performance the very first run-through isn’t a talent that everybody has.  However, there are plenty of strategies you can employ to make yourself better at sight singing.

Read more

singing bride

Watch What Happens When This Super-Talented Bride Sings Down The Aisle

You know how sometimes you don’t know exactly how to say what you feel, but you find a perfect song that says it for you? This beautiful bride, Arianna Pflederer, found a perfect match for her wedding song. This is one wedding procession you have to see and hear to believe!

What do you think? Is there a song in your heart that needs to get out? Vocal lessons are a great way to express yourself, and the best part is that anyone who can speak can learn to sing! Find your voice teacher on TakeLessons.com and get started today!



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Online Voice Lessons

Do Online Voice Lessons Work? The Surprising Truth

Online Voice LessonsDo online singing lessons actually work? Take it from our teacher Molly R., who teaches singing lessons in Hayward, CA. Read on as she explains the benefits, and how online lessons can work for you!

Two Crucial Benefits of Online Lessons

I’ve been teaching online voice lessons via Skype and FaceTime for a year now. Before I started, I had the same questions anyone else would have: How does this work? Will my students get as much out of these lessons as they do at in-person lessons?

I’m here to tell you that online lessons work beautifully and absolutely YES – students get every bit as much out of online lessons that they do traditional lessons…if not even more!

First of all, let’s talk convenience. We’re all super busy these days. Always on the go, and somewhat overscheduled! With online voice lessons, my students are able to sing with me anywhere there is a good Internet connection, including hotel rooms when they are traveling. Even if my student is more local, sometimes they just don’t feel like dealing with traffic, parking, weather, or even leaving their comfortable pajamas.  And I don’t have to worry about making sure my bathroom is sparkling clean!

Online voice lessons have allowed me to teach students from all over the world.  Internationally, I’ve taught students in India, Italy, Mexico, and the Philippines.  I’m in the Bay Area of California, but my time zone has allowed me to teach lessons to students all over the United States as well, including as far away as Maryland, Texas, and Illinois.

With the improvements that have been made in the quality of Skype and FaceTime and other platforms, it really does feel like you are in the same room together. I am able to detect tension, strain, breathiness, etc. every bit as effectively as I am with students taking in-person singing lessons. If a student is using an especially high-quality microphone, I can detect even more issues that need to be addressed. Technology is really something!

What Do I Need for Online Voice Lessons?

In addition to a reliable Internet connection and a microphone, all you need is a Skype or FaceTime account, depending on what your teacher uses). Skype is completely free. Lately, more and more teachers have been using Google Helpouts, as well (also free). When it’s time to sing, the student is the one who brings up the mp3 or YouTube video to sing along with on their end, as this is the way to avoid lag and both parties can hear it more effectively this way.

There are so many other bells and whistles I am excited to try out. Screen sharing, for one.  And who knows what other improvements will be made in the near future, or what other platforms will be introduced that allow music instructors to reach out to students from all over?

Which Is Right for Me? 

There really is no right or wrong as to which medium a student chooses for their voice lessons. It’s entirely a matter of personal preference.  Some really value the personal feel of in-person lessons, but I can’t stress enough how it really does feel like both student and teacher are right there together. My online students have had the opportunity to meet my teaching assistants (my sassy cats!), too . And I get to meet more of their family (human and four-legged) when lessons are online.

So, what are you waiting for? Try an online voice lesson out and you’ll see just how convenient, effective, and fun they are.


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

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50 Perfect Quotes About Music

50 Perfect Quotes About Music

50 Perfect Quotes About MusicSometimes, the most satisfying thing about hearing quotes from famous figures is realizing that a great mind shared the same thoughts and feelings as you. Geniuses, they’re just like us!

When it comes to music, many of history’s greats had a lot to say, so you’re bound to find that somebody incredible loved music just the way that you do. Share these quotes with your friends, paint them on your studio wall, slip them into a loved one’s instrument case, or write them in your journal. Just like your favorite songs, these great quotes about music are yours to live with! Read more

Are You Tone Deaf? Scientists May Have Found the Cure…

microphoneCan’t match pitch to save your life? Science may have found the cure – or, at least some initial findings that could help adults learn new skills, including music and languages, later in life.

Absolute pitch, the ability to identify and produce specific pitches without a reference point, has long been studied by musicians, psychologists, and neuroscientists. Some people believe it’s something you have to be born with – or, something that must be cultivated at an early age in order to stick, such as through early life exposure and rigorous training in music.

But now, preliminary research has shown that pitch-perfect comprehension may just be a neural tweak away. In one recent study, scientists used valproate, a chemical compound typically found in mood-stabilizing drugs, on subjects with no musical training, coached them on the basics of matching pitch, and then tested them on the material weeks later.

Read more

San Diego’s Top 10 Hot Spots: Open Mic and Karaoke

karaokeIt’s a new year, and a great time to set some new goals! What do you want to achieve? Where do you want to be with your music-making this time next year?

Whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been playing for years, performing in front of others is a great way to increase your confidence – not to mention show off what you’ve accomplished!

Here in America’s Finest City, there are tons of events to improve your musical chops, from low-key karaoke bars to crowded open mics in San Diego. And it’s not just for singers. Many open mic nights cater to all types of instruments, from drums to guitar to keyboard. It’s also easy to find all-ages events, if you’re looking for some family-friendly fun.

Nervous? Don’t worry – everyone is the first time they perform on stage! But the more you perform, the easier it will get. You might feel comfortable checking out a few events to get a feel for the environment before getting up on stage, and that’s totally fine.

To get you started, here are a some of our favorite San Diego open mic nights and karaoke venues:

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Our 5 Favorite Performances of the National Anthem

Happy 4th of July! Whether you’re firing up your BBQ or staking out the best spot in town to watch the fireworks, we hope you’re having a wonderful day and celebrating in style. To help you kick off your day, we’ve compiled this list of our 5 favorite performances of  ”The Star Spangled Banner”.  These 5 singers (and 1 bonus guitarist) really know how to hit that gorgeous high note and give us goosebumps every time! Read more