By Valerie White Williams
From the amount of email I have received, it appears that many of you are interested in finding a voice teacher but don’t know where to start. It can be difficult to find a good teacher since many voice teachers don’t always advertise. Hopefully some of these ideas will set you on your way.
The very best way to find a voice teacher is by word of mouth. Ask singers, professional or aspiring, whom they study with. Most singers are more than happy to discuss their teachers. But what if you don’t know anyone who studies voice? You may have to dig a little deeper, but there are still ways to find a personal recommendation.
Music teachers are often in contact with other music teachers, even if they teach different instruments. Call your local college or university music department and ask for referrals. Some college instructors take local students on the side, they may have students who teach or may know of other teachers in the area. Calling local music stores for referrals is also a good idea. Many stores offer lessons and some are actually schools of music. Even if they do not offer voice lessons through the store, voice teachers may have advertisements at the store. Any musical organization, including churches, may have contact with local voice teachers in the area. It just never hurts to ask.
Not all voice teachers use advertising, although some do. Look in the classifieds. Some larger metropolitan areas have music magazines targeted to the rock musician or other arts. They often have musician’s classifieds and can be the best places to find teachers who teach rock/pop vocal styles. Some teachers may even advertise in the yellow pages.
Today, many voice teachers are on-line. The National Association of Teachers of Singing has a listing of voice teachers in your area. Other on-line resources for voice teachers are Classical Singer Magazine, The Learning Musician, and even Craigslist. You can also search Google for voice lessons, voice coach and your area and see what you get.
Once you have a referral or two or three, go ahead and make some phone calls. If you are interested in singing CCM – Contemporary Commercial Music (jazz, rock, gospel, R & B, alternative, puck, pop, etc.), make sure that you discuss this with your potential teacher. Some teachers do not teach outside of the classical voice tradition, so make sure to ask if this is important to you. You will probably also want to discuss price, location, lesson times and length, as well as payment and cancellation policies.
If you are both interested in checking each other out, you may agree to meet for a trial lesson. It is only face to face that you can really see if this prospective teacher is a good match for you. Finding a good voice teacher is like finding a therapist or MD; you really need to find someone you are comfortable with. Learning to sing can be very intimate. Our singing voices can feel very delicate and people, especially beginners, can feel vulnerable and exposed. A good teacher should make you feel comfortable and safe yet challenge you to grow at the same time. It may take a couple a teachers to find a good fit or you might find the right one right away. In either case, you will have taken the first step to improving your voice and reaching your musical goals. Congratulations!