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CHILDREN


How old should my child be to take voice lessons?


Between 5 and 7 years of age, generally, though it depends on a child’s maturity, attention span and ability to focus, the eagerness to learn to sing, and the security of his/her reading skills.

 


YOUTH


Is it safe for a boy with a “changing” voice to take voice lessons during that change?


We would not recommend that a boy at the “beginner” level who is in the middle of a voice change take voice lessons if he has never studied voice with a private teacher before.


We have had very good success, however, teaching those young men who have studied privately before the voice change began.   In one case, a 12-year-old boy soprano who had sung the role of Amahl in “Amahl and the Night Visitors” in Springfield, MO began studying with us.  Surprisingly, his voice did not change until he was a senior in high school (at age 17), when his new tenor voice emerged with all of the unique shimmer and beauty that had characterized his boy soprano voice, and the transition was “seamless.”  Additionally, he had not waited those 5 years to begin vocal training, so he was much better able to understand and manage his mature instrument when he left for college.


Teaching him during the change also afforded us the opportunity to encourage him to make his school music teacher aware of all his transient vocal range and volume limitations, adding still another layer of protection of his voice.


Additionally, we were able to monitor progress of the voice change by regularly vocalizing him and noting his current usable singing range and suggesting melodic adjustments he could make to his school choir music to avoid potential stress upon his transitioning voice.

We have also been successful working with boys who were on stage singing in a theater almost nightly and who were, therefore, unable to discontinue their singing during the voice “change.”  With them as well, we felt that we were better able to protect their voices by being involved in their vocal training and by simply being on hand in their home on lesson day to caution them to modulate their voices when they interacted too loudly with their siblings during this time.


Do girls experience a voice change like boys do?


Girls have less of an issue as their voices mature; consequently there is seldom a noticeable change in range or quality like a boy experiences when their vocal cords double in length!



ADULTS


Is there a risk associated with singing in a vocal range that may not be your true “natural” singing range?


Yes, there can be a risk, particularly for women who are untrained.  For example, a “true” soprano who sings as an alto, because “high” notes are difficult to negotiate, can lose her high notes in her high range, but also the “upper” notes in the upper-middle range.  Over time, then, a woman who sings her lower notes too loudly (or “heavily”) can end up with a significantly limited singing range.

We test every singer’s voice to determine their natural vocal range and recommend literature appropriate to that individual at that particular time.  As the singer increases his/her range, we adjust the keys of their songs, as appropriate, and build the voice to its “natural” range with all of its best attributes of quality and resonance.


Can one extend their singing range by taking voice lessons?


Yes!  Very often, a singer struggles with range, because of a number of vocal technical faults that limit a singer’s ability to sing freely in the upper-middle range as well as the upper range.


If one has typically sung in the alto (or baritone) range,

can she/he train to sing in the soprano (or tenor) range?


If the individual is actually a soprano (or tenor), he/she can begin to develop (or regain) their true “natural” singing range, provided he/she is willing to work diligently at it.


How do you know if you’re a soprano or alto, or a tenor or baritone?


We vocalize the singer and determine the note on which the voice breaks into full chest voice.


How old is too old for someone to take voice lessons?


We have been very successful teaching beginners who were in their 70s.



Questions to Ask Yourself:


  • Do you realize that “pitch problems” are usually related to basic vocal mechanics--not to hearing issues--and can be remedied rather easily if the singer is conscientious in addressing them with the teacher at weekly lessons?
  • Do you experience tightness in your throat or other difficulty when singing in a choir?
  • Did you know that it is possible to avoid the feeling of vocal strain during or after a choir rehearsal?
  • Do you experience difficulty singing or singing with adequate volume in a particular area or range of your voice?
  • Do you find some vowels are more difficult to sing than others, especially on higher notes in your range?
  • Do you know what vocal “nodes” are and, more importantly, how they develop?



ADULT PROFESSIONAL PERFORMERS


How could a “seasoned”/experienced singer benefit from voice lessons?


Slipping “off track” with the basic “fundamentals” of good vocal mechanics is a gradual, incremental process that can erode a singer’s confidence.  Working with a teacher(s) who can monitor and correct the student’s command of solid vocal mechanics can be as helpful for a singer as working on one’s golf swing with a “swing coach” can be for a competitive golfer.  One critical aspect of correct singing that often eludes a singer is the timing and coordination of the breath support mechanism.  These two elements may seem to sabotage a singer’s upper register notes that were once very secure and then begin to affect other areas of the singer’s range.



Questions to Ask Yourself:


  • Do you understand the “true” role of the diaphragm in singing?
  • Do you know the difference between “projection” and “reflection”?
  • Are you able to sing through the “passaggio” area of your voice seamlessly and with focus and brilliance as well as fullness and richness of sound quality?
  • Can a singer’s diction be too strong?  If so, how might it negatively affect his/her singing?
  • How do vowels and consonants work together to create pristine diction?
  • Is “belting” safe?
  • What is the difference between “falsetto” singing and soft “legit” singing in the upper register of the male voice?
  • Do you know what “localized” singing is?  Can you recognize it in a singer’s voice?
  • Have you ever recognized “localization” in your own voice?
  • How is the sound you hear when you sing different from what the audience hears?



QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF IF YOU'RE AN ASPIRING SINGER:


  • Are you singing at your very best?
  • Have you considered the fact that if you don’t leave where you are right NOW---in terms of your vocal technique--you’ll never be anywhere different?  That is, do you realize that if nothing changes, NOTHING changes?
  • Are you really committed to doing whatever you must in order to fully realize your artistic “dream”?
  • Did you know that even Metropolitan Opera star Beverly Sills continued to study with her teacher throughout her career?
  • Do you realize that high performance outcomes are the result of high performance commitment to study, without being afraid of what people will think if they know you’re taking lessons?
  • Are you aware that all professional athletes work continually with specialty coaches/teachers to review, re-evaluate, and improve every aspect of their game?