Thinking about taking voice lessons? Getting that one-on-one guidance is key when you want to learn how to sing. Here, Saint Augustine, FL teacher Heather L. discusses some of the FAQs she has received, to help you get started:
I’ve taught piano and voice lessons for the past 11 years. Over that time, many different questions, from parents, colleagues, and students themselves, have come my way. If you’re thinking about starting voice lessons yourself, or if you have a child who’s asking for lessons, then you probably have some yourself. Here’s the list of questions that I get asked most as a voice teacher:
Q: What ages are appropriate to start voice lessons?
A: It varies from instructor to instructor, but some are willing to begin lessons teaching voice health and basic music fundamentals, like solfege syllables and note reading, at age four. And barring a voice injury or recent nerve damage, no one is too old to start!
Q: What kind of things should my child bring to their first voice lesson?
A: Most instructors find things like crayons (for children), staff paper, and sometimes an iPod or CD with the student’s favorite songs useful for the beginning lessons. A music stand is helpful, but not necessary, and songbooks and sheet music will be decided upon as the lessons progress.
Q: How much practice time does a voice student need to devote to his studies?
A: At the professional level, singers typically practice one hour each day, six days per week. Children should sing the songs on which they’re currently working about fifteen minutes per day. Adolescents and non-professional adults should take 30 minutes each day, six days per week, to devote to their technique and repertoire. As the student begins his or her first few months of voice study, however, endurance and stamina must be built slowly, just as an athlete slowly builds his or hers. A good voice instructor will listen at each lesson to any abnormal strain or injury in the student’s voice and adjust practice schedules accordingly.
Q: Can you really teach anybody to learn how to sing?
A: Yes! If you have a speaking voice, then you have a singing voice. That does not mean, though, that you have a huge range or a powerful sound. You might, you might not. But you can sing. And voice lessons are the first step to unveiling your true voice, and what you can ultimately achieve.
Q: What should I look for in a voice instructor?
A: First, listen! If a potential instructor has an unusual amount of roughness in her speaking voice, then she may not know and practice healthy voice habits. Second, a degree from a great institution or a decade of teaching experience are great, but more important is a positive and encouraging attitude. Voice lessons can be challenging enough without an instructor who’s not kind and patient.
Photo by Danske Kirkedage