I have had several private voice students come through my studio doors who are being duped by “agents”, pageant directors, casting directors, etc. and it makes me sad that they are sinking money into the hands of people who are only there to make a buck instead of really caring about the students themselves.
I personally know of 5 kids who have more experience than one kid I was advised to instruct by his “agent” out of Hollywood who claimed he had sunk “millions of dollars” into a client of his. However, the agent was NOT paying for the students’ lessons with me, the student’s parent was!
This young performer lasted less than a month because he didn’t improve fast enough!
Another very young girl lasted 3 years in the pageant world before coming to me where she really learned how to perform. She was one who had done pageants for years and had tired of it. You know, those “contests” where everyone gets a medal? They have: Platinum, Elite High Gold, Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards in several categories. Then they have just enough other awards that EVERYONE who shows up wins something! Best costume, most photogenic, and the list goes on….I hope they all get awards because they are paying an arm and a leg to be there!
Another one of my student’s parent was spending about $1000 per MONTH to pay for costumes and competitions. She was doing (amongst other things) musical theater category and they didn’t even SING!. Wow—somebody is making money and it is NOT the pageant performer!
My students seemed to have received nothing from the pageants except bad habits that had been trashing their voices for years. I had to totally retrain their voices as well as their thinking. While working with me, one post-pageant performer finally succeeded in landing a gig in Italy (that she did NOT have to pay for!) AND learned to sing well without her throat hurting and getting hoarse like she had in the past.
I am not saying all pageants or agents are bad, but the first priority is to get TRAINING!.. I asked my pageant girls if anyone rehearsed them and gave correction and feedback at their events and they said “No, we just performed, got awards and went home”. So my advice is simple —WATCH YOUR WALLET!.
1. Make sure you are studying with an experienced, preferably certified (college degree or years of professional experience) instructor, with a proven record.
2. Talk to people who have taken lessons from him/her. Are they improving at a good rate? Or have they been with the same instructor for 5-10 years and are still singing with bad habits? Does this teacher produce RESULTS? I have samples of some of my students’ performances available to view for students who request it.
3. Are they charging close to the same rate as other music lessons in your area? Some may be a little more expensive (like I am in my area), but have more education and experience.
4. If they offer to find you a paying JOB, then a fair percentage of what you actually MAKE is reasonable. But if they charge you UP FRONT to “find you a job”….RUN!!!! It is a scam! In this day and age, it should NOT cost you hundreds of dollars for a headshot picture!
5. Read books on this issue. There are several books about this and you will find unbiased opinions about this issue from some of the book writers who have been agents, or are casting lawyers, parents of professional child actors, etc. Find out all about it before you hand over a lot of money.
Here are some books that might help you in your quest.
I hope this is helpful! I have a voice series out that teaches proper technique so you will avoid vocal injury. It is practical, with warm up exercises, corrections and advice as well.
Click here for information on my Book/video Series.