Tips on choosing a voice teacher. . .
Voice teachers are as subjective and as varied as the genres we can sing in! When looking for someone to study with, here are some things to be curious about:
Their availability and pricing. If your schedules don’t line up, then you cannot reach your goals with them at this time. Some teachers have a waiting list. If you really like this person, you may wish to wait for an opening. If your needs are more time sensitive, you may wish to look for someone else. This teacher may even be able to suggest other teachers in the area that fit your needs (pricing or otherwise). Don’t be afraid to ask anything!
Their schooling. There is no one neat little certificate that says a person can teach voice. If there was, I would have it. Their is freedom in this. There is also a danger to this. If you were going to hire a personal trainer, you would check to see what gives them the right to train you. Do the same for voice.
Their philosophy or teaching style. Continuing the trainer metaphor. . . If you wanted to run a marathon, you would pick someone who has experience training for one. If you wanted to learn how to run a faster 5k, you might choose a different trainer than one who has only run marathons. Choose a teacher who knows what you want to know and can teach it to you well.
Keep in mind, the best teacher is not always the best performer or vice versa. One can have all of the credentials in the world and still not be able to convey that knowledge in a way that clicks with you. Go with your gut, and find someone who understands your learning style and your goals. Also, find someone whose teaching style you can understand.
Their Goals. Be prepared to share what you hope to learn or to do with your voice lessons. Ask them the same questions. You can ask how they handle specific vocal issues (belting, changing voices, breathy sound,etc.). You can ask what their goals are for their students after leaving their studio. Every teacher has a different focus. Find one whose focus can align with yours.
Any cancellation policies or other expectations. Some teachers will let you cancel and not pay for the missed lesson. Others will not. Investigate this. Do they have recitals you must perform in? Will they only work on their repertoire and not coach you for auditions and singing elsewhere?You have a right to ask about anything you can think of.
Remember that this is a service. You can cancel your service anytime. You can seek another’s services after or even at the same time. I have learned something different from each of my voice teachers, and they have all helped to shape me and my voice today. Stay curious!
Amanda Ainscough is an very active vocal artist and can be heard singing all over Central PA. She also has a large studio at the Perfect 5th!