You can compare Mercedes Benz to Kia Motors, or the Ritz-Carlton to Motel 8, or Payless shoes to Jimmy Choo’s, or Tiffany jewelry to that from K-Mart’s. The list of similar comparisons in this world is endless.
You have mass market products and you have those that are tailored to a different, more elite customer. Designer brands exist for the wealthy or those who aspire to seem wealthy. If you need a ride to the store and it’s raining, you aren’t going to care if you get the ride in a brand new Mercedes or an old jalopy Ford, as long as you get there and stay dry. If you are interested in function, that’s different than if you are interested in elegance, or exclusivity, or uniqueness. A custom hand made violin is going to cost a lot more than one made partially by machine manufacturing, but not everyone wants or can afford custom hand made instruments. But, there are some brands that are so exclusive, most people never hear about them. The people who know about them don’t want them to be known.
So, too, is it with singing lessons. It is a world of “let the buyer beware”, all the time, everywhere. There are no licensing bodies for teachers of singing, there are no “voice police”, there is no New Yorker magazine list of the Ten Best Singing Teachers in New York. You are on your own.
Therefore, if you are a novice, or if you have little experience, you are an easy mark. You wouldn’t know you were being sold a bill of bogus goods until you had bought those goods for a very long time. I have had people come to me who have been studying singing for 6, 9, even 12 years with one person, who had learned little or nothing about vocal production or basic singing technique. Seems crazy, I know, but absolutely true, and also very sad.
It’s like buying anything you do not know about……cars, insurance, appliances, electronics, vacations. You either jump in and take a chance for a while and see what you get or you don’t do it. Now, of course, there’s the internet, a great resource, but it also gives you oceans more information that you have to plough through, and not much help about knowing what, if anything, in that information is truthful or useful.
We come then to rely on the pieces of paper that put letters after someone’s name. If you have those letters (MFA, MA, PhD, CCC-SLP, etc.) we can assume that you went through some kind of training process involving others who had to pass judgment on your various skill sets. If nothing else, it at least means that you went to the trouble of trying to become a bonafide expert
at something. It does not mean, however, that you actually are an expert, or even very good.
Right now, there are dozens, maybe even hundreds of courses, DVDs, videos on YouTube and who knows what else on line that promise to teach you to sing. Some of them say “immediately”, other’s claim that they have discovered “THE way” to be a great vocalist, still others use famous people who endorse their approach to “prove” how good the teacher and the methods are. These “products” serve primarily one purpose and that is to make money for the seller. There’s nothing wrong with having something to sell. We live in a free market economy. It does mean, though, that you might spend the money on someone who has lots of famous clients who doesn’t know that much but has a “big footprint” in the media.
People tend to equate cost with quality. If you had a fantastic meal at the local diner that cost $12.00 and then had the exact same meal at a fancy up-scale restaurant for four times the price, the meal might seem like it was “better” at the more expensive place. There are studies that prove such. That’s how people are, they usually think– expensive is better.
We do that about popularity, too. If something is popular, it must be because it is “better”. Without evidence, there might be no reason to make that assumption, but we do.
If you are interested in quality singing teaching, don’t spend too much time on line. Don’t invest a lot of money in courses that you accidentally find on-line unless you know someone personally who has used the course and gotten good results from doing so. If you don’t know how to be “an educated consumer”, spend some time with singers you like and ask questions until you get answers.
Somatic Voicework™ may someday have “products” to sell to the general public. Right now, however, there are none and that has been the case for FORTY years. If you want to find me, you can now do it through this site, but you won’t find me through any advertising. If you are looking to learn to sing in 4 DVDs, I’m sure you can find that on-line somewhere and good luck to you. I can tell you that the most well-respected, most well known singing teachers here in NYC do not advertise, do not put out publicity using their famous students as a draw, and do not walk around claiming to have found “THE WAY”.
But if you are looking to be an artist, to use your voice with deep conviction, emotional truth and personal uniqueness; if you are looking to investigate the depths of the human condition through the discipline of becoming a great singer; you will not find any map on line. If you want to find a Mercedes Benz of singing teachers, you will not find him or her hanging out with the masses on the internet with the Kias. Never.
Let the buyer beware. The most expensive isn’t always the best. The most popular isn’t always the most useful. The most famous isn’t famous because he or she has re-discovered the vocal “wheel”. If a singer is not telling the truth in his or her singing, then the words will not ring true nor move the audience. You can’t learn that from some DVDs you bought on line. You can’t even try.
Be careful. THINK. Ask questions.