Sunday, October 9, 2011

Teaching Singing My Way

There can be huge differences between what different voice teachers offer and what those interested in taking voice lessons expect from lessons.

Here is a general overview of what I offer and what I do best.

I HELP YOU to do the following WORK (because a teacher is merely a guide, an extra set of eyes and ears and a knowledge source)

1. Finding YOUR true voice/sound - not a voice that imitates or mimics other singers

2. Balancing your voice throughout its entire range and all registers (because a singer who wants to sing comfortably and reliably unbalanced -- adding audible breaks, breathiness, etc. -- needs to know how to sing balanced, first)

3. Accessing all available notes in your voice (because you can't add notes to your range that don't pre-exist in your voice, you can only learn how to access them -- and they usually number more than you think they do)

4. Establishing a resonant voice technique that can allow you to sing unamplified and be heard in a reasonably friendly acoustic environment. For those who work hard, they may be able to develop a voice that can carry over an orchestra with ease. This is my goal for all singers. You can always sing and be heard with a microphone. Techniques are slightly different. But techniques that allow you to sing on a mic are easier to master, in my opinion, because they tend to be more cosmetic, than are the more varied and subtle principles of freely-produced and properly supported tone required for singing audibly, unamplified. A microphone can be an aid. It can also be a cheat and a crutch.

5. Removing affectations that keep you from developing your own voice. Getting rid of the breathiness, screechiness, the squeeze, the press, the push, the breath holding, the choked and muffled "cooking lady" sound, the added vibrato that doesn't sound as good as you think it does, the bleet, the uncoordinated vocal wobble...

6. Developing a flexible vocal technique that will allow for artistry -- rapidly sung passages, dynamics, vocal colors, legato (flowing, connected) singing, staccato singing...

7. ...which brings me to musicianship. Teaching sight-singing, music theory, rhythm, etc. I don't believe in learning songs solely by ear. The visual aspect of learning your music and understanding how your particular voice relates to the notes on the page is critical to your vocal development and understanding.

8. Teaching piano for singers. If you want to sing and you have no desire to minimally learn to play the notes of your songs on the piano in order to learn the music, I wonder about your initiative.

9. I help you to NOTICE things, so that you can own your technique and not remain teacher-dependent. I teach you to see and feel what's going on, because listening to yourself from the inside doesn't work.

10. No apologies. No excuses. I may be a dinosaur. But I prefer working with singers of classical, semi-classical and other legit or legit-related forms of music. Some new age and alternative music fits into this schematic. That said, I am pleased to work with singers of all genres of music -- musical theatre, pop, rock, jazz, rhythm and blues, folk, and so forth. Keep in mind, I am not an interpreter of all of those genres (though I do pretty well working with some of them). My background is opera, classical, art song (Lieder, mélodie, British and American song), assorted forms of religious music.
Again, my strength is helping you sort out your voice, establish a strong, healthy, acoustically sound, intelligent foundation technique and your personal sound. What you do with it from there is your business.

I may edit or add to this list along the way.