Welcome to Voice Lessons
Learning to sing can be an immensely rewarding experience. Unlike other instruments, the voice is a part of you, and learning to use it well opens up virtually limitless possibilities for self-expression.
Quick Lesson Tips
A typical voice lesson begins with exercises, also called vocalises, which get you ready to work on repertoire by moving up and down in the vocal range, working on each vowel sound, and engaging the breath. A typical warm-up might start with lip trills, where the student sings notes while making a “trilling” sound with the lips pressed together. This helps to engage the diaphragm in breathing and teaches breath control. Next would come exercises that emphasize each vowel sound: a (pronounced “”ah”), e (“ay” or “eh”), i (“ee”), o (“oh”), and u (“ooh”). These are designed to help you learn to use what are called “pure vowels.” They also help the teacher to evaluate how your voice works. Just like fingerprints, no two voices are the same, so a voice teacher must listen to find out how each vowel resonates best in an individual student’s voice.
After the warm-up you are ready to begin working on songs, or repertoire. This part of a lesson will vary depending on the style of music you want to learn and how much musical experience you already have. If you don’t read music and want to learn classical repertoire, for instance, your teacher will probably start to teach you the basics of music theory while you learn by ear at first. Learning theory is even more important in jazz, as jazz singing involves a lot of improvisation, and you’ll need to know chords, chord progressions, and how to read a chord chart in order to improvise and work as a team with instrumentalists. Jazz and classical singing both have a “standard” repertoire, a set of pieces that most people in those fields generally know, and you will probably start out with songs that your teacher chooses from this repertoire. In classical singing, especially opera, the standard repertoire varies according to voice type (sometimes called by the German term “fach”). As you get to know your voice and your tastes, you will start choosing your own pieces.
Whichever style of music you are learning, in the repertoire portion of a lesson you will learn the how the piece you want to sing goes, how to sing it in the best way for your voice, and how to make the emotion in the song come across. If you read music or are able to learn by ear from recordings, you may come to a lesson with a piece already prepared, or your teacher can teach you line by line in the lesson. Next, your teacher will listen and help you use the techniques you learned during the warm-up to sing each part of the piece in a way that flows naturally and easily, resonates well, and doesn’t hurt your voice.
The final step is perfecting the expression of a piece. If you are learning an opera aria or a piece from musical theater, this will involve understanding the character you are portraying and what’s going on in the play or opera at the point when your song or aria occurs. In other types of music, your teacher will help you analyze the lyrics and music and decide what emotion you want to come across in the piece overall and in different sections. Every style involves a bit of acting, as you use your facial expression and body posture in addition to volume and tone of voice to make the feeling of the music clear. Also in every style, your teacher will encourage you to listen, listen, listen! Listening to recordings of great musicians and attending live performances will aid in every aspect of your learning.
How Students Progress
The human voice is one of the last parts of the body to mature, so progression might seem slow at first. Pop singers usually start at younger ages than classical or jazz singers. Singing lessons for younger singers will concentrate more on depth of expression and healthy singing, and less on expanding the vocal range or difficult repertoire.
Usually around ages eighteen to early twenties, more taxing repertoire and vocal exercises can be introduced. How quickly you progress also depends on what your musical background is and the style you are learning. It’s very common for singers to start lessons later than other instrumentalists, but progress tends to be fast, especially in the beginning. Because learning is primarily done by ear in pop music, a singer can progress very quickly, going from beginning to intermediate in a year or two. Musical theater generally involves at least some reading, so it may take up to two years to advance to the intermediate stage. Moving from beginning to intermediate takes a bit longer in classical singing, two years, or more if you don’t read music or you are very young. Classical and jazz are probably the most rigorous styles, both because of the physical demands they make on the voice and because of the amount of theory you need to know. In all styles the move from intermediate to advanced is more difficult and tends to take longer, because the changes you are trying to make in your singing are more subtle. No matter how many years you sing, though, you will find there is always something new to discover.
Finding the Right Instructor for Your Singing Lessons
To get started, find a wonderful instructor with The Music Teachers Network. Simply submit your request for lessons and we will match you with amazing instructors near you. We offer a tremendous selection of local music instructors and studios that are actively available to teach you and want your business. Those contacting you have paid to do so, and are serious about teaching at very competitive rates. So what are you waiting for? Start your search today!