As someone who has spent a lot of time on both the student and the teacher sides of voice lessons, I thought it would be good to share with you some of my thoughts concerning what makes a good teacher. I am always amazed at the large amount of “voice teachers” who want to take your money. With so many voice teachers/coaches out there, students have a difficult task ahead of them. In coming posts, I will be detailing what you should look for. First, however, there are several pitfalls you should avoid:
Going with The Piano/Instrumental Teacher Who Is Teaching Voice on the Side
I have seen this happen too often. An instrumental teacher realizes that she can make more money if she also offers voice lessons. Her justification is that she took a semester of voice lessons back in college, so she knows something. Unfortunately, this does not mean that she is a good voice teacher. Like any other instrument, singing has its own skill set, a skill set that requires a long time to master.
Blindly Going with the Teacher that the Local Music School Recommends
Most people don’t know what they are looking for when they decide they want voice lessons. Consequently, they call up a local community music school. The assumption is that the music school has done its homework. This might be the case; it might not. Going through a music school does not absolve the prospective voice student from carefully considering a voice teacher. He still needs to do his own work.
Going with the Cheapest Teacher You Find
Many people don’t know if they want to take voice lessons, so they choose someone cheap. The old adage applies here: You get what you pay for. Sure, the prospective teacher might be inexpensive, but maybe there is a reason. He might be a greenhorn right out of undergrad. He might not know what he is doing, which means you just wasted time and money.
Going with the Most Expensive Teacher You Find
Sometimes people go with the assumption that if something is more expensive, it must be the best. In certain cases, this may be true. However, some teachers will charge exhorbitant rates and fail to deliver on the promise of quality training.
Going with the Teacher Who Lets You Sing Whatever You Want
Healthy vocal technique can be applied to different genres of music. However, people often decide they want to be better at singing only their favorite style of music. The problem arises when that particular song you want to sing is outside of your range or current ability. A good voice teacher will tell you this. A teacher who only wants your money won’t. She will let you sing the song even though you are hurting your voice and singing the song out of tune. This is not to say that you should have no say in the repertoire you want to work on. You should have a choice, but please be open to trying a song in a different style that will build your skills rather than exacerbate your problems.
To Sum up
Quality voice teachers will do their best to help their students succeed. Their goal is to strengthen the singer’s ability to sing healthily and accurately. If you are not learning new skills and growing as a singer during your voice lessons, then the teacher is not doing his job. He is taking your money, having you sing for 30 minutes, and then throwing you a few pointers. Don’t let this happen to you. It is incumbent upon you to research the teacher. Ask her questions about her training and experience. Get to know her philosophy of teaching. If you do this, you will get much more bang for your buck.