Have you ever been thinking about taking voice lessons, but you just aren’t sure? A lot of people like to sing in a choir, in the car, or even in the shower. But is taking voice lessons right for you? The thought seems a little scary – particularly if you’re not used to singing in front of others, let alone a trained, professional vocalist! Here is some information that can help you to decide if taking voice lessons is the right thing for you.
1. When should I start voice lessons?
“The sooner the better!” The American Academy of Teachers of Singing previously advised that children hold off on starting lessons until they have fully matured, but in 2002, they agreed that it is better to start teaching a child proper technique as early as possible to prevent them from forming unhealthy singing habits.
If we start with proper technique at a young age, we can get a solid foundation of healthy singing that will last a lifetime. At a very young age, we learn by copying! Don’t you remember a time when you copy the singers on the radio just because you like a particular song?
As a matter of fact, vocal cords are like muscles, we train them to have muscle memory. Just as we train the greatest athletes at a young age, we can do the same with singers. As the voice is developing, we can start the same initial training that athletes do, but for the voice.
2. Know your goals
The first thing you need to ask yourself is: what are my goals? Establishing your goals with singing is what will help you and your voice teacher set a path for your lessons. If your goals include sight reading better for your community choir, great. If they include one day singing on the Broadway stage, great. Knowing your goals with singing will help you to stay motivated and moving forward.
Your goals should be realistic and achievable though. Voice lessons will improve the sound that you already have, but they aren’t going to guarantee you a fame-worthy singing voice. Everyone can learn to sing better, and a voice teacher can help you learn how to use your voice to the best of its ability. If the goal is to access your full potential as singers with an emphasis on easy and natural sounding tone, you’re in the right direction.
3. What to expect from taking voice lessons?
Voice lessons are about more than just singing. Vocal training engages the entire body and you will be instructed on correct posture, breathing and vowel shaping. Good singing lessons involve:
- Continuous diagnosis by your teacher on your personal vocal needs
- Exercises and repertoire/books selected according to the cause and effect principle to direct the lesson to what you need in your voice
- Applying those techniques to a song of your choice
Vocal changes take time and effort. One or two voice lessons will not be enough time for a teacher to have a real impact on how you sing. Expect to give it a few months before you hear changes. The more you pay attention to the adjustments your teacher suggests, the faster you will get results. Keep in mind that any adjustments to vocal technique are most effective when you apply them every time you sing – with the radio, in the shower, in choir class, and anywhere in between.
4. How long should each lesson be?
Basically, singing lessons should be as long and as frequent as you can afford them in term of time and finances! However, we’re not suggesting you should have a singing lesson every day – that’s a bit much! But a lesson at least once a week is beneficial for 99% of our students.
Voice lessons are usually broken into 30, 45, and 60-minute sessions. It would be best to start with 30 minutes and then discuss with the teacher how and if you would benefit from trying a longer lesson.
Normally we like to see our adult students for a 60 minute lesson every week so we can work in-depth on their voice and take a look at a song at the same time. This gives us as the teacher, and you as the student, an idea of how well you’re practicing and progressing.
But if 60 minutes a week is not financially viable for you, it’s better to have a 30 minute lesson every week. When you’re training your voice, frequency is much better than duration – you don’t want to form any unhealthy or bad habits! Some people take voice lessons just because they find it fun and consider it a hobby! In that case, we recommend going with whatever feels right to you, either 30 minutes or an hour. There really isn’t a right or wrong. There is plenty you can learn in either time frame.
Young kids don’t have as much vocal stamina, so 30 minutes at a time is best until around age 10. If your child is under 10, but you’d like them to have more lesson time, try two 30-minute lessons a week on different days.
5. How much will it cost and is it worth it?
The price of lessons depends on the teacher and their expertise. They can range anywhere from $50 to $200+ for an hour one on one lesson. Besides lesson cost, you should expect to spend $20-$100 or more each year on music books and sheet music. Recitals, concerts or other performances may include fees of $0-$25 for informal activities (which are free at HBSM) and $30-$200 or more for larger or more prestigious events.
Whatever the price is, you must remember it is an investment! You are investing in learning a useful skill that you can feel accomplished in forever. And that that is priceless!
Check out our vocal program to free your voice.