FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
CAN ANYONE LEARN TO SING?
Anyone who can match a reference pitch* can learn how to sing. Based on my experience, this pitch matching ability is not always demonstrated during the first lesson. The beginner may be too nervous initially to match pitches consistently, but as the new singing student grows more comfortable working with his or her teacher, matching a reference pitch often becomes second nature. From that point on, the majority of techniques shared by the teacher should focus on the student's ability to maximize resonation and to understand the importance of modifying the vowels that they sing.
* For the purpose of matching, a reference pitch is a note played or sung preferably within the student's comfortable vocal range.
DO I NEED PRIOR KNOWLEDGE ABOUT MUSIC THEORY AND SIGHT READING?
No, you do not need prior knowledge, but it does help! Once you do develop the skills to read music, you will find that you’re in a very rare class of singers, and you will be respected within the music community. Your ability to “sing the ink” is priceless! I am quite knowledgeable in music theory and I’ll be happy to teach you what you need to know.
DO I NEED TO KNOW HOW TO PLAY PIANO OR OTHER INSTRUMENT FIRST?
Once again, no, but it does help if you are willing to learn basic skills on the piano, guitar, or other chord-producing instrument. Acquiring some keyboard skills will be a great assist to your speed of learning, and will heighten your motivation to expand your singing repertoire. Additionally, when you gain these skills, you will find that learning music becomes so much more fun!
HOW DO I FIND A GOOD VOICE TEACHER?
If you live in the greater Washington metropolitan area, you need only to call me, of course! Unfortunately, for the novice musician or parent, it is a very difficult task to discover who the good singing teachers are. If you are searching for yourself or for your child, and you have little knowledge about proper singing techniques, how can you possibly make an informed decision as to which teacher would best serve your needs? Making the decision on price alone is not a good idea.
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to measure the knowledge and experience that a singing teacher possesses. I suggest that you ask the teacher to provide testimonials from their students that reflect positive results. Although professional performing experience does not automatically translate into being a great teacher, the teacher who has maintained a career as a professional artist brings to the table a much deeper level of expertise and experience in doing precisely what you want to do! This expertise and experience can benefit the student immensely. Make sure to study their professional biography to determine in what musical genres they have specialized. If your focus is on Broadway or jazz, it may not be either sensible or productive to study with a teacher who has only sung in opera productions.
AT WHAT AGE SHOULD A YOUNG SINGER BEGIN LESSONS?
For years, I went along with the common perception that girls should not start voice training before the age of 13 years. However, there is no basis for this idea. After all, many young children attending sporting events and pop concerts are encouraged to express their allegiance to their team or favorite rock star by screaming or yelling over a period of several hours. This can prove to be very harmful to a developing singer! Over the years, I have learned that a fixed starting age is not nearly as important as a girl’s musical gifts and her motivation to improve. For that reason, I accept motivated female students as young as 9 years old. In fact, several girls that started with me at the age of 9 have made solo CD recordings in their teenage years.
Boys, on the other hand, undergo a much more dramatic vocal change during their time of puberty. Even though a boy may be disheartened by his shifting vocal range, patience and careful vocalizing can ease this transition. A skilled singing teacher can bring a young male student through this “range change,” and can instill many technical skills in addition to an elementary understanding of basic artistic expression. It’s a great time to learn music theory, too. Motivated boys can begin their vocal studies between 10 and 13 years of age.
HOW MUCH DO VOICE LESSONS COST, AND HOW OFTEN SHOULD I TAKE A LESSON?
As for frequency of lessons, I have learned through experience that a lesson every week provides the best possible results for a student. I am well aware that life gets in the way every now and then, which is understandable, but the booking of bi-weekly or monthly lessons for an unskilled student is NOT a good formula for success!
The average hourly cost for a lesson presently runs between $50 and $85. My hourly fee is $65 presently, and that price includes a recorded compact disc of each lesson, which becomes the property of the student. The CD recording allows the student to review the information gained from each lesson.
Generally, as with so many other services, you get what you pay for, but please don’t think that a big city teacher who charges $200/hour can prescribe a “magic pill of singing” for you. Even the most motivated person cannot learn to sing overnight. In fact, the journey to become a FEARLESS SINGER requires patience and practice! We should all strive to enjoy this journey of learning, and to cherish our progress every day.