Sven Olbash

Sven O.

San Francisco, CA
100% Satisfaction Guarantee

100% Satisfaction Guarantee

Try the first lesson and if you’re not satisfied we'll refund any unused lessons.

Lesson Details



Sven passed a background check that includes a SSN verification, national criminal record check, and sex offender registry search. Learn More
Sven delivers an exceptional lesson experience and ranks in the top 15% of our teachers nationwide.
Teaches students:
Ages 12 to 65

Teaching since:
August 2000

Hi, I'm Sven and I love helping people learn to sing!

I'm a singer and choral conductor with 20 years experience as a full-time performing musician. I have taught class voice and individual singing lessons at the New England Conservatory of Music and have been a Teaching Artist with San Francisco Opera for nine years. As artistic director of Lacuna Arts (SF), I conduct the 24 voice a cappella Chorale and present workshops in ear training, sight singing, and music theory for choral singers. My students have gone on to major in voice performance at the college level and to perform as soloists with local choruses.

*** Lesson Details ***
I teach classical singing technique based on a scientific knowledge of vocal anatomy and the physics of sound—and not on flashy gimmicks.

Through guided practice, you will learn to:

-take a long, slow breath that expands the ribcage before starting to sing
-initiate the vocal tone with an onset that is neither breathy nor pressed
-manage breath efficiently so you never feel like you "run out" of air in the middle of a phrase
-connect from pitch to pitch and vowel to vowel for a seamless legato
-sing any dynamic from piano to forte
-increase your vocal range from top to bottom with balanced resonance and smooth register transitions

If you study with me, you will learn why common expressions like "breathe from the diaphragm" are essentially meaningless (we can only breathe from the diaphragm). And you will come to understand why things like trying to "bring the sound forward" or "send the voice to the back of the room" are physically impossible (sound doesn't move like that).

Whether you are interested in singing opera, choral music, or musical theater, you will learn a foundational classical singing technique that will allow you to make the artistic choices you want with confidence, poise, and finesse. Students must be serious about improving their singing and commit to a minimum of 60 minutes of at-home practice between lessons.

*** Studio Equipment ***
Lessons in the living room, upright Kawai piano, sitting area, mirror, music stand, Edirol/Roland digital recorder

*** Travel Equipment ***
Must have piano

*** Specialties ***
classical, opera, and "legit" musical theater

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Aug 2017 - Present

Teaching individual singing lessons for middle school students

Teaching artist
Sep 2008 - Present
San Francisco Opera

Artistic director
Sep 2006 - Present
Lacuna Arts

Conductor of Chorale and Ensemble

Professional chorister
Sep 2005 - Aug 2010

Premiered over 40 works by over 20 living composers with this 20-voice San Francisco based new music choral ensemble

Voice faculty
Sep 2004 - Aug 2005
Franklin School for the Performing Arts

Teaching assistant in Voice
Sep 2003 - Aug 2004
New England Conservatory of Music

Taught class voice and individual singing lessons


Teaching Artist, Leadership and Advocacy Lab
Jul 2017 - Jul 2017
Lincoln Center Education
Master of Music in Voice Performance and Pedagogy
Sep 2002 - May 2004
New England Conservatory
Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance
Sep 1995 - May 1999
Boston University, College of Fine Arts


Fluent / Native Proficiency
Professional Proficiency
Limited Proficiency
Limited Proficiency


Teaching Artists Guild
Aug 2017

Teaching Artists Guild (TAG), a fiscally sponsored project of Community Initiatives, is a member-driven organization committed to the professionalization and visibility of artists who teach. We are the voice of the teaching artist, communicating the depth and breadth of work that teaching artists provide our educational systems and communities.

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National Association of Teachers of Singing
Apr 2017

Founded in 1944, National Association of Teachers of Singing, Inc. (NATS) is the largest professional association of teachers of singing in the world with more than 7,000 members worldwide.

American Choral Directors Association
Jun 2015

Founded in 1959, the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) is a nonprofit music-education organization whose expressed purposes outline the associations dedication to the advancement of choral music. The mission of ACDA is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.

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Photos & Videos

Rehearsing "S'un casto amor" from Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo by Benjamin Britten with pianist Kevin Korth
Photo by Sven O.

Photo by Sven O.
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10 Reviews

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Lawrence Nov 8, 2018
Classical Voice · In home

Very good!

Daniela R. Jan 9, 2018
Audition Prep · In studio

I don't usually write reviews cause I am always afraid they'll sound fake (because my complements always sounds super corny), but after reading this disclaimer, please know that this is as sincere review from a very very pleased student, who decided to write this because It's is the best way to repay someone that completely went out of his normal lessons activities to help me out with my very specific requirements.

I rate Sven 5 stars because aside from being a very educated (musically and socially speaking) person, he also welcomes you into his class with a mix of kindness and funny personality super willing to teach you but at the same time wanting to push you and get the best out of you.

I was very impressed by how much knowledge he always has in his hands, with his wonderful credentials but mostly with how motivating it was to be learning from someone you feel knows what he is doing, and because of that, earns your respect and makes you want to work harder and make the best out of the lesson.

As I mentioned before, I went to Sven with the very specific goal of preparing my portfolio to apply to my dream music school, and not only he gave me the confidence to arrange my existing material, he motivated me to create new material.

Not only I completed my task but I gathered months of knowledge in a matter of 2 weeks.

Very happy and thankful to have had the opportunity to study and work with him.
Super recommended as a teacher, and very cool person :).

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Rachel Oct 19, 2017
Singing · In home

Sven has a wonderful gift in being able to break down concepts and offer concrete guidance which I so appreciate as a beginner.

He is very organized and has a deep knowledge and passion for his work.

He is without a doubt, a top-notch instructor.

Nick Oct 11, 2017
Singing · In home

Sven is a great teacher! I'm excited to continue my lessons with him

Jim Sep 16, 2017
Classical Voice · In studio

Sven is an amazing teacher. He has tremendous knowledge and insight into how the voice works, so he is able to identify problems and provide solutions. He is good at improvising exercises to fit specific issues. I was frequently impressed at how he could hear what I was doing wrong and tell me exactly how to correct it. But he is not all technical either. Sven focuses on interpretation and the meaning of the text. I studied singing off and on for about 30 years before Sven, and I learned more from him than all of my other teachers combined. I kept thinking, "Why didn't anyone tell me any of these things before???" I only stopped after 5 years because of competing priorities for my time and income. I cannot recommend Sven highly enough.

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Patricia Aug 28, 2017
Vocal Training · In studio

I have taken at least two dozen voice lessons from Sven over the past couple years, as well as participating in a choir he directs. His teaching style is both efficient and rich with clear, specific advice for my particular voice. I recall once transcribing a lesson I had recorded and being astonished at how much important and useful information he had given me; it took a long time to write it all down. After a voice lesson with Sven, I always feel happy and motivated to continue practicing. I am especially grateful for his ability to give objective feedback honestly and in an emotionally intelligent way, as well as his gift for explaining concepts clearly and in simple terms. It feels sometimes as though he is giving away secrets of the voice, demystifying what had been completely obscure to me before. I also really appreciate Sven's competency at the keyboard. He has been able to play at sight anything I've brought to a lesson. Sven is a wonderful voice teacher. I recommend him without hesitation to anyone serious about improving their vocal technique.

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Kenji Aug 23, 2017
Classical Voice · In studio

I appreciate Sven's approach of starting from the fundamentals and working on up from there. I've sung for years but this is the first time I've really studied classical technique, and it's made a big difference in my confidence and enjoyment of signing.

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Jack Aug 20, 2017
Classical Voice · In studio

I first asked Sven in 2011 to help me find and fix problems with my singing. My technique, performance practice, enjoyment of singing keep improving. I choose more and more difficult repertoire as time goes by, trying to get us both into trouble. So far, so good!

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Janet Aug 19, 2017
Vocal Training · In studio

I've made huge progress from studying voice with Sven. I am an experienced choral singer who had taken a 10-year break and needed to refresh my skills. Sven' approach is precise, accessible and encouraging. My tone, volume, consistency and performance skills have all improved, and so has my confidence as a singer. I highly recommend him as a voice teacher.

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Maria Aug 19, 2017
Singing · In studio

Sven has a very solid technical approach but is not afraid to be creative and sometimes whimsical. He tailors the information he provides to the individual student.

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