The Voice Lesson – Learning on All Levels


Voice students learn crucial, technical information in the voice lesson. This is absolutely necessary to develop a healthy technique that will serve you well long-term.  However there are also other lessons that are learned subconsciously from voice teachers that have a huge impact on each student.  You want to make sure that this other information is similarly positive and helpful for you.

Voice teachers have the great responsibility of being examples for all singers.  They represent authority and expertise in a highly specialized, august field.  They are also the only path toward success for you the singer, giving teachers a huge amount of power.  Finding the right teacher is so paramount that singers often put up with other behaviors that are less than ideal.  Unfortunately it is these behaviors that can undermine singers’ ability to pursue a successful performance career.


Whether it be unintentionally or intentionally, teachers can easily undermine the self-confidence of singers.  Since teachers are the authority figure, you as the student tend to believe what your teacher says is well thought-out, based on experience and absolutely true.  This is often not the case.  Not only are many teachers merely seeing the situation only from their own point of view, with no regard for the student, but some feel it their “duty” to discourage students who they believe have little professional potential.  Perhaps this would be a good thing if all teachers were equally skilled at helping students improve technically. But since many teachers are not particularly skilled at helping singers with different vocal issues consistently progress, singers with a great deal of talent and potential are often discouraged from pursuing performance careers simply because that specific teacher is unable to help him or her.  The fault lies with the teaching.  However, the burden of guilt is given to the student to bear with disastrous results.

It is always incumbent upon the teacher to think first before speaking and to utilize language that is positive and encouraging.  It is very easy for highly-sensitive singers to pick up on any negative-leaning comments and remember those instead of all of the positive feedback.  These negative comments can do a great deal of damage to a singer’s fragile ego, especially as they accumulate over time. Singers deserve teachers who are sensitive to the power they have to affect the student’s self-confidence and are willing to build up versus tear it down.


There are a number of voice teachers out there who have built studios by keeping their students reliant on their help on a weekly basis.  These teachers are able to make effective technical changes in the student’s voice during the lessons, but never explain fully how they are making those changes, in order to empower the student to work more effectively on his or her own.  Without this information, the student has to rely on repetition and feeling to try to re-create the studio experiences, often with mitigated success. So the student returns to the studio the next week for more help, sings better during the lesson and struggles again when alone.  This pattern keeps the teacher busy, but takes power away from the student to reinforce the improved coordination him or herself, which is what changes the overall pattern habit most quickly.  You the singer need to be in control of your voice on every level.

The other huge downside of this approach is the fact that students are not always able to see a teacher every week and need to have tools with which to work on their own voices independently during rehearsals and performances.   Intelligent use of vocal technique is critical to performance success for singers.  If you the singer are unaware of the basis of your technique and how to adapt and change it for the better, then you are flying by the seat of your pants.

Teachers need to inform their students about how the vocal mechanism functions, the fundamentals of an excellent vocal technique and how to achieve them.  This isn’t rocket science.  Teachers should be able to explain what they are trying to achieve during the voice lesson.  If they cannot, as I have said before, it is a warning sign that the teacher him or herself does not truly understand the technical concepts and it might be time to find another teacher to help you.

Positive thinking

Some teachers work with their students using an overall defeatist attitude.  They themselves have had disappointments in their careers and are unable to believe their students could have different experiences.  This type of defeatist thinking is entirely counterproductive in the voice lesson.

Performers are now learning more and more from sports psychology about the power of positive thinking.  It can make all the difference between a good performance and a stellar one.  Singers must learn to transform negative thoughts into positive ones and what better place to learn than the voice studio?  It is a teacher’s responsibility to provide an example by being positive and encouraging to all of their students.  Singers have critics enough and need both their teacher’s support and an optimistic viewpoint to audition and embark on a performance career.  A can-do attitude is absolutely essential.


These are just some of the additional lessons learned by voice students in the studio.  There are others more subtle and difficult to distinguish.  Think about your own lessons and take note of what you might be learning, besides technique.  You want to ensure that they will not affect your singer’s ego in a negative way.


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