Choosing a teacher or studio to work with can be a big, important, and very personal decision for a vocalist. In a world where the study of singing has been around for generations, but where actual scientific study of the voice has only emerged in the last 20 years or so, there are many schools of thought on singing, often covering many extremes. So, who can you trust to help you get results and also provide an enjoyable experience? Let’s break down some important elements to consider when seeking out vocal learning:
- Musical Styles: Of all the teachers and music schools out there, the first element to consider which will help you narrow down who to consider is what style of music you wish you study and whether those teachers/schools have experience teaching it (and, ideally, a proven track record of success!). In the current academic environment, most degree programs for music are strongly (and sometimes, exclusively) focused on Classical music, which has very specific acoustic/aesthetic quality values to uphold. This is great– and essential– for those who wish to sing Classical or Opera! If this is you, look for teachers who hold a college degree in Voice Performance. But, for the contemporary microphone-based singer, a good deal of (that is not to say ALL of) the formally accepted wisdom on singing just doesn’t apply. Note that this is not the case with other instruments, which have universal foundations for all styles; the voice is a different animal and its development needs to be treated differently depending on the end goals of the student. Many academically accomplished voice teachers do their due diligence in maintaining continuing education for recent voice science and pedagogy associated with contemporary microphone-based styles, but beware of academically accomplished teachers who sit on their laurels and don’t maintain current standards. A great question to ask when interviewing a prospective teacher would be to specifically verify what training the teacher has in contemporary singing. The aesthetics of contemporary styles are important and diverse, and often couldn’t be more different from the quality judgements of Classical/Operatic singing. A teacher who focuses mainly in stage-styles (that is, Classical, Opera, and golden age Musical Theater) may be less likely to have awareness of the industry standards for your preferred musical style, but that isn’t always true, so be sure to have a conversation and feel out their preferences and goals for students. After all, a good teacher-student relationship will be built on mutual understanding and trust, so start off on the right foot!
- Experience in Performing, Teaching, or Both When looking for a voice teacher, you’ll want to find someone who has enough performance experience to relate to your challenges. But, you’ll also want to find a teacher who has enough knowledge of voice science applications to genuinely understand the mechanics of voice training. Some amazing singers try to teach singing only to quickly realize that they lack the clear vocabulary to explain what their body intrinsically knows how to do (have you noticed this effect on some popular singing shows?), or worse, that what works for their voices doesn’t work for ALL voices. Hopefully you teacher will have experience that checks both boxes positively! (At Cardon Studios, this is always true.)
- Personality/Compatibility It is 100% true that you need to LIKE your singing teacher. Ideally, you will study with someone you enjoy spending time with; this simple detail will help you feel more receptive to their opinions, instructions, and yes, even the occasional critique. Communication is key to a successful experience studying singing in that you as the student need to feel comfortable expressing concerns or confusion, and your teacher needs to be a clear communicator to meet your needs. An exchange like this is may more likely with a good personality match. This is why Cardon Studios offers a free Intro Session to try out meeting with a teacher!
- Performance Opportunities for Students If all of the above elements seem to be met and you still can’t decide between one studio or another, keep in mind that your learning experience will be much deeper with performance opportunities that allow you to test out the new skills you’re learning under some degree of pressure and in a supportive community of peers. What works for your voice in private might be more complicated to apply with nervousness in front of an audience. This is way Cardon Studios includes monthly events for students, a super fun way to share what you’re working on (at lower risk than bombing a professional gig, of course) while gaining important self-knowledge and deeper understanding.
Wishing you the best on your vocal journey wherever you end up studying! Have a question we left out above? Send us an email!