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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 Gender

Finally, there's the gender issue. Like many issues regarding singing, there is some disagreement about what role gender should play in selecting a voice teacher.

It is pretty generally agreed that there are some inherent differences in the way that males and females produce sound while singing. Because of these differences, there are those who believe that only a male can teach male singers and only a female can teach female singers. Others profess that any differences in vocal production can be understood by teachers who have studied them and, therefore, gender is not an issue. In any event, if you are meeting with a prospective teacher or coach of the opposite gender, it's not a bad idea to raise the issue and see what his or her take is on the subject.

When it comes to coaching, there's another aspect where gender comes into play. Let's say you're a female working on a song with a very feminine theme to it. It may be helpful to work with a female coach on such a piece, to be certain that you're approaching it correctly. The same is true with male singers working on hyper-masculine songs. For example, if you were working on Billy Bigelow's "Soliloquy" from Carousel, you might get more accurate feedback from a male coach who has experienced some of the same feelings as the character you are portraying.

Granted, many emotions are not gender-specific. But in certain instances a gender bias may be helpful. (Now we could get really lofty and start to discuss how each character has a masculine and a feminine side, but perhaps we'll leave that to another feature.)

There's another aspect of the gender issue that is more psychological than physiological. Sometimes, it's just plain more comfortable for us to work with one gender or the other. Since singing is an art form in which, at times, you may feel very vulnerable, you may prefer one gender over the other. A safe creative environment is a high priority so, if this is an issue for you, by all means, select a person of the gender you feel most secure with.

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