Why Do You Want to Take Singing Lessons?
Are you an absolute beginner?
Everyone has to start somewhere. Whether you're fifteen, thirty-five, fifty, or eighty, it is never too late to start singing. If singing is something you love to do, and you want to do it better, then why put it off?! People sometimes ask if it's too late to begin studying. You can start or re-start at any age. And keep this in mind: nobody's voice reaches full maturity until they are in their late twenties to early thirties
Do you consider yourself a good singer who needs maintainance work?
All singers, no matter what their style of singing, need the guidance that another objective ear provides. Its extremely easy to lapse into habits that, while not particularly harmful in and of themselves, can mushroom into more serious issues in the future.
Are you an experienced performer, functioning below your potential?
Perhaps you have been performing for some time, but feel that your voice just isn't functioning as well as it used to. Singing in your higher range has become more difficult; your throat tires more quickly; youve begun to lose that clear quality that you once had. In short, singing has become a lot more work and a lot less fun. Then the time has come for you to take a close look at your technique, and perhaps your general vocal lifestyle.
Are you having obvious vocal problems?
Has your voice lost clarity? Are your high notes disappearing or are they inconsistent? Does your throat hurt when you perform? Do you suffer from chronic laryngitis? Have you been forced to cancel performances because of voice loss? Have you been diagnosed with a voice disorder such as a nodule or polyp? All of these are sure indications that you need help with a major re-tooling of your singing technique—very likely your speaking voice habits as well.
Do you think you're over the hill?
When I tell people I'm a teacher of singing and speech, some of them get a wistful look in their eye and say, "I used to love to sing, but I haven't for years. I dont have any voice left." I don't care if you're eighty in the shade and you haven't sung for twenty-five years. As long as you're in reasonably good health, you can still sing. In fact, regular singing will probably improve your health!
Do you think you're tone-deaf and beyond help?
I once heard of an Army major who used to say, "I know two songs. One is Yankee Doodle and the other isn't!"
A lot of people think they're tone deaf, and maybe you do as well. Yet, you're reading this, hoping you might be proved wrong. Well, I won't disappoint you. My voice teacher used to say that anyone could learn to sing. True, only a few of us are blessed with spectacular voices, but anyone—repeat, anyone!—can learn to sing well, so that others will enjoy listening to them. All you need is the desire. This is not an exaggerated claim to get you to take singing lessons. Virtually every voice teacher I know believes as I do. I've had some tough nuts to crack in my time. Some of them, especially in the early stages, made me wonder if I might have to eat my words! But in every case, they finally proved me right.
Do you want a career in singing?
More to the point, do you want to become a
star?! Well, join the club! There's not one of us who hasn't dreamed about getting all that attention and adulation.
I often get calls from people who tell me," I've always known I wanted to be a performer. I dream all the time of being onstage." or " I would do anything to get a lead in a show!" or "I dream of hitting those high Cs and hearing the audience go wild!" All those fantasies are delightful to indulge in and, no doubt about it, applause is one of the great rewards of performing. But!!! There's a lot—and I mean a LOT—of work to be done before you can expect to stand onstage and catch the bouquets (to say nothing of the hundred dollar bills!) flying your way.
Whichever of the above categories defines you, you will follow the same road to fulfillment, success, or recovery, save for a few minor detours. The techniques that work to improve a healthy voice work equally well to rehabilitate a damaged voice, for singing or speaking.
That brings us to
The Big Questions: Why Do You Truly Want to Sing? Why do you Love to Sing? Why do you Have to Sing?!
A few years ago, I asked some of my students those questions. These are a few of the reasons they gave:
The nitty-gritty, practical reasons:
· I want to increase my range and volume.
· I want to get rid of the tight feeling in my throat.
· I was limiting myself as an actor by not knowing how to sing.
· I used to sing so well, but then my voice started falling apart.
The vague reasons:
· I don't know, it's something I've always done.
· It makes me feel good, I guess.
The warm-fuzzy, philosophical reasons:
· I wasn't able to express myself the way I wanted to. I wanted to be able to reach a deeper emotional level.
· For me, singing is incredibly exhilirating. It's just about the most satisfying thing I can do.
· It satisfies my need for self-expression and communication.
· I can't deny it, it gives me a chance to show off! I get goosebumps just thinking about the applause!
· I have always been a singer because of the magic. When I sing, the world turns from black and white into full Technicolor; a feeling of having more access than normal to the joy, the mystery, the brilliance of whatever is out there and inside myself. (I'm not making this up; those were her exact words.)
· It's my soul food.
For myself, I like to paraphrase the philosopher-historian Joseph Campbell: singing is following your bliss.
First and foremost, you need to love music for its own sake. Well, that's pretty obvious, of course you love music! But do you love music for richer or for poorer? In other words, how much of your desire to sing comes from your love of music and how much comes from your fantasies of fame and fortune? The thought of bright lights and limousines can be enticing and seductive, and there's nothing wrong about wanting the world at your feet. However, that will not be enough to sustain you through all the lean times that most successful performers must endure before they truly make it. As in most professions, you gotta pay your dues!
Do you love music enough so that if you knew in advance that you would never make a penny from your singing, would you still want to take lessons? Everybody has their own reasons for studying singing and I'm not saying that you have to study for the "right" reasons. All I can tell you is that the folks who enjoy singing lessons the most are the ones who do it for the sheer love of making music. And they don't look back on the whole process as a waste of time because they didn't make money from it.
As the old saying goes, "Many are called, but few are chosen."
How serious are you about studying singing?
I can remember numerous telephone conversations with prospective students who had studied on and off and they told me, "Now I'm ready to get really serious about singing." Well, I hope you're not serious at all! Because I'm not. And I'm not interested in teaching people who consider singing a serious business. Singing is fun, plain and simple! Even people who sing "serious" music do so because its fun, and don't let them tell you otherwise.
So let's substitute "sincere" for "serious". I think you'll agree that that's a more appropriate attitude to take.