Can you learn to sing through videos, like the ones advertised with Christina Aguilera? Read on for voice teacher Elaina R.‘s thoughts…
Have you seen the ads for Masterclass.com, offering a voice lesson course taught by Christina Aguilera? Promos for the course have inundated many Facebook feeds, and since I know many professional singers and voice teachers, I’ve been able to watch them react to the ads. Most voice teachers have been amused, terrified, or both by the prospect of people learning how to sing from Ms. Aguilera.
Why are the degree-holding vocalists of the world not on board with Christina Aguilera teaching voice? She is, after all, a six-time Grammy Award winner with an estimated net worth of $130 million. Are we just jealous? The short answer is no! We are truly concerned for voice students who turn to Christina Aguilera for advice, and here’s why.
Talent Does Not a Teacher Make
You are likely an expert chewer. You chew food many times a day, and you have done so for your entire life. One could argue that you are a talented chewer, even. But what if someone who didn’t know how to chew asked you to teach them to chew? You would likely have to think long and hard about your process. In the end, the best answer many people would be able to come up with is, “You just do it.”
Christina Aguilera is a gifted singer. She has a good voice and natural musicality, and her performances often reflect that. However, her innate ability to sing and the fact that she was born with a good singing voice do not mean she knows how to teach singing. As any teacher will tell you, teaching is in and of itself a skill, and it isn’t one that Christina, with her flourishing artistic and television career on top of parental duties, has had any time to curate.
Modern Pop Technique
In addition, Christina Aguilera is a pop singer who specializes in belting (high chest voice). Belting is an extremely taxing form of singing that, when done wrong, can produce disastrous results. Not only does bad belting sound horrible, but it can rapidly destroy your voice.
The vast majority of voice teachers are university trained, which almost always means they have a foundation in classical vocal technique. While classical singing sounds very different than belting, the same rules (breath support, throat relaxation, resonance) apply.
Learning proper vocal technique through classical pieces — or at least less taxing pop pieces — greatly reduces the chance of vocal injury. If learning to sing with low-impact music is like light strength training, trying to skip to belting is like immediately attempting a 300-pound deadlift. It’s just plain unhealthy.
Knowledge is Power
Frankly, the most famous pop singers in the world today usually have no idea what they are doing. Christina Aguilera was blessed with a fair amount of natural ability, but as many of her performances exhibit, she falls prey to many of the same issues that beginning voice students have.
She often suffers from jaw, neck, and tongue tension, resulting in a pressed, flat, raspy sound (and sometimes cracking). Even pop singers who do not have these issues are just vastly talented people who can’t teach anyone how they do what they do.
Professional voice teachers, on the other hand, are a different breed. We may be talented, but we also dedicated ourselves to learning how singing works. We have studied anatomy and vocal technique in an academic setting and can describe exactly why specific faults, such as cracking and straining, occur. A good voice teacher is not just a good singer; she knows the specific details of what she is doing to sing well, and she can describe those details to her students. That’s something that even the most talented singer in the world can’t do.
Can I Learn to Sing With Other Online Videos?
Too busy for lessons, and want to just teach yourself to sing using YouTube videos or other programs? Here’s the thing — absolutely nothing can substitute the help that a private teacher can provide you.
While you can learn to sing songs and basic music theory with online resources, if you want to sing well, working with a vocal teacher is extremely important. Your teacher will be able to notice and correct bad habits that can lead to injuries or those that may be affecting your sound. Plus, the motivation and inspiration you can get from this type of guidance can make a huge difference!
Photo by D.S.B