Lately my heart has been burdened by the plethora of people who are mounting the “Professional Voice Teacher” sign on their business door. Would you expect a person who is not and never has been a Medical Dr. to put up a Doctor’s sign and start practicing!
Here is a funny video on this subject–the girl is hilarious, but NOT a voice teacher, giving the Pentatonix “voice lesson”!
Unfortunately in my state, there is no criteria set as to who can pose as a music teacher. Some singers who have had little to no training TEACHING singing techniques, consider themselves “professional teachers”. And how are parents to know? They obviously don’t. I have seen some students still taking lessons for 6 years now from some voice “teachers” who are still singing with incorrect placement shout-singing with no beauty to their voices. This is unacceptable! If you are a voice teacher, I apologize and pray that you will help to be part of the solution, not the problem. Here are a few steps to take as a consumer when looking for a voice teacher.
First of all, DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Go to performances of several voice teachers’ students. You will get a taste of the quality of and style of vocal quality that these instructors produce in their performers. If they all sound alike, or sing with bad technique, WATCH OUT!!! Every singer should be developing his or her own “sound”, with good consistent vocal technique. Ask yourself, “Is this singer in control of his/her voice? Is he/she confident? Is he/she breathing with full relaxed breaths from the diaphragm. Or is he/she breathy, nasal, off pitch, etc?
Carefully LOOK AT THE TEACHER’S BIO. If they do not have any education in Vocal Music, watch out! It is not enough just to be a good singer themselves. From experience, I know that at a music university we were taught not only quality vocal production as singers ourselves, but how to teach the concepts to others. Obviously, years of experience DOES count in this business. Would you hire a lawyer who has never tried a case? Or a first year intern to do surgery on you?
OBSERVE CAREFULLY THE PROGRESS OF THEIR STUDENTS. If they are not improving at a reasonable rate, then stay away. If your throat is hurting when you finish your lessons, DO NOT CONTINUE! Your throat should NEVER hurt after a lesson. This is a warning that tension is causing stress on your voice and it is NEVER O.K.
CHEAPER IS USUALLY NOT BETTER! You get what you pay for. I know I am not the cheapest in my town, but people get results quicker, so in the long run, it is cheaper because you get greater results with the money you do pay out.
In conclusion, I had a young student a few years ago who had paid thousands of dollars to be in pageants (registration fees, costumes, etc.). She had NEVER learned HOW to sing though. And of course because of this she could never place at pageants or get an agent to take her on. She actually SAVED money taking lessons from me, and learned HOW to sing. She was soon on a touring group to Europe within months because she learned how to sing! You get what you pay for…IF you shop around and take this advice. You shop for the best value at the grocery store, why not do it when looking for training for your child in the performing arts!
There are music students who post “lessons” on youtube for class projects. Some are pretty interesting, but these should never take the place of a quality, experienced professional to teach you voice lessons on an ongoing basis.