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Training Your Voice

Some Definitions: p.1
Qualifications: p.2
Finding a Teacher: p.3
What to Ask: p.4
About Gender: p.5

About Qualifications

There is no licensing or regulatory organization that governs or oversees voice teachers and vocal coaches. There is no standard set of qualifications that voice teachers must adhere to. As a result, virtually anyone can hang out his or her shingle and declare that he or she is a voice teacher.

Perhaps the best known organization of voice teachers is NATS the National Association of Teachers of Singing. NATS, however, is a organization of peers and not a regulatory body. So membership in NATS is not necessarily an indication of the quality of the teacher. The organization's published Code of Ethics addresses such issues as how to interact with students and with other voice teachers, primarily from the business perspective. But the Code recommends no standards for the actual practice/art/craft of teaching.

Perhaps this is because there is such disparity in the way that singing instructors work with their students. Much of what transpires in a voice lesson is based on the relationship that is established over time between student and teacher. Gradually, the teacher determines the best way to convey information to the student and, likewise, the student begins to understand and adapt to the methodology of the teacher.

Sound is produced using body parts that we're not accustomed to controlling consciously. When we talk, we don't think, "I have to lower my larynx" or "Gee, my jaw is tight." We simply talk. But when we sing, in order to achieve the desired results, we learn to gain control over body functions that used to be instinct. In order to do convey such seemingly vague guidance, voice teachers employ a wide variety of words, images, metaphors, coaxing, physical adjustment, and demonstration to impart technique. And much of what is taught is custom-fitted to your needs, based on your teacher's understanding of your learning style and personality.

In an ideal world, such an arrangement would work for everyone. But this is show business, folks, where charlatans abound and the world is usually far from ideal. So, sadly, there are a lot of people who call themselves voice teachers or vocal coaches who have neither the skill nor the understanding to be qualified to teach you how to sing. Many teachers of singing are frustrated singers themselves who are trying to earn a living in a way that is related to their own skills. Unfortunately, just being a good singer does not make someone a good singing teacher.  Nor does being a good performer necessarily make someone a good coach. As they say in the corporate world, they're completely different skill sets.

More ...
How to find a teacher

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