Sing! Now Is The Time

If you have ever wanted to study singing, do it!

Singing is a very healthy thing to do. It makes you breathe more deeply and with more energy. It is aerobic when you learn to do a vigorous song and it has the same benefits to the body as any moderate exercise. It’s also very rewarding to make “nice” sounds that feel and sound good while also expressing yourself in music.

Learning to sing doesn’t have to be confusing, hard, obscure or frustrating. A good teacher will make the process , fun, interesting, clear and accessible and give you simple instructions about how to practice. He or she will instruct you about how your voice works functionally and what to listen for in the sound so your mind will comprehend the ingredients we want to have in our vocal music. The songs you do should be easy enough to be rewarding and difficult enough to give you a bit of a challenge, without discouragement.

If you practice five times a week for about a half an hour, in about two to three weeks you should notice an improvement in your vocal output and control over your body’s ability to handle inhalation and exhalation while singing. In about six months you should hear a definite difference in the overall quality of your singing and if you work steadily (lessons once a week or as close together as possible) in two years you should see and hear results that are much improved in all aspects of your singing.

If all you want to do is sing informally, for fun, after two years you should feel like you can do just that. If you have more serious aspirations, it will take longer, as you will need to learn more about the details of vocal production and about various musical styles. However, even if you are talented, it can still take three, four, or even five years before you get to a minimally acceptable professional level, and if you start without any background in voice or didn’t have much experience in singing, you might need additional instruction such as a performance classes, or an audition coach, to help you properly prepare for your higher aspirations.

Remember that there is no one right way to learn to sing and no one has a “instant method” that makes everyone able to sing like a high level professional. All reputable singing teachers understand how the voice works, how the body works and the relationship between the two. They understand music, professional market-based expectations, and know the difference between vocal production and stylistic appropriateness. They should be supportive but honest, encouraging but able to offer kind-hearted corrections, they should know what kinds of songs to suggest (neither too hard or too easy), and they should be respectful of your questions and interests while guiding you to expand your horizons. If you feel uncomfortable for any reason, a good teacher will address those concerns if you share them and will make reasonable adjustments in order to meet your needs as seems best.

Never ever work with someone who tells you they are better than everyone else, or that they are the only teacher who knows “what’s right”. Do not work with someone who promises you the moon. Be wary of studying with someone who sounds unpleasant or sings with great effort, as this does not bode well for what they want to share with you. Some people with vocal health issues don’t sing well but can teach, but this kind of situation can also interfere with the teaching, so be very careful. If the teacher claims to be vocally and physically normal and he sounds awful or sings in a style that you do not want to also sing, find a different teacher.

Remember, you do not need to learn classical songs in order to sing well. Classical repertoire is nice to know, but it is not in any way a necessity if you want to sing CCM material. Functional training is a separate thing from “classical training” which is based mostly on “breath support” and “resonance” as configured by each individual teacher. While it can be helpful in the hands of a qualified experienced teacher, it can also be useless or even harmful. Look for someone who has a background in voice science and vocal function as well as performance in a variety of styles.

Good luck!

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2 thoughts on “Sing! Now Is The Time”

  1. Perfect timing for this post! We are in discussion at the university about what to do with the operetta unit in our music theatre program. I’m the only one advocating removing it entirely and letting those students who are interested in singing classical music or operetta to do it as part of the “open” unit. The other teachers think that there is so much for the students to learn about “support”, legato and resonance from singing classical music and in another language. AAARGH!

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