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How do you find a good singing teacher?


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#1 Viledin4u

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 13:37

I have a friend who used to take lessons many years ago and would like to take singing lessons again. Can anyone give me any advice to pass on regarding how to find a good singing teacher. It seems to me that with many programmes like Britains Got Talent, the Voice etc etc that there may be many not so great teachers jumping on the bandwaggon so how do you find somneone who is really good if you don't know anyone who can recommend one?
We are based in the Newcastle/Tyneside area.
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#2 Tenor Viol

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 13:42

In the absence of a recommendation - it might be worth contacting local choir/choral society with a decent reputation they might advise you - I have done this several times for people who've got in touch with us.

Otherwise, all you can do really is interview them - discuss what they do and what your aims/objectives are.

Pot calling the Kettle really huh.gif when I started, I replied to an ad in the local paper and didn't do any of the things I'd do now! Turned out he was very good. Web sites these days I suspect, although not everyone has one.
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#3 Seer_Green

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 14:32

QUOTE(Tenor Viol @ May 20 2012, 02:42 PM) View Post

Otherwise, all you can do really is interview them - discuss what they do and what your aims/objectives are.

agree.gif
I think that for singing more than any other instrument, going and meeting potential teachers is enormously important. Otherwise, I think the same applies as for any other instrument. I haven't noticed a particular increase in teachers since these awful television programmes started.

I think that when you're looking for a singing teacher, being clear about what sort of thing you're looking for is important. For example, I don't teach pop songs - I've never done any pop songs myself, I don't really listen to pop music and I wouldn't have a clue where to start with it. I make this very clear and if this what potential pupils are looking for, then I point them elsewhere.

There are practical considerations too - how far are you prepared to travel, how much are you prepared to pay etc. How regular do you want the lessons to be, and is the teacher able to provide this? Does the teacher teach on days when you're available? This also helps to narrow down potential teachers. Other recent threads have suggested you should be looking at the teacher's qualifications and even their pedigree, but as we are all too aware, neither of these necessarily makes a good teacher (indeed, both can equally make a bad one!).

If your friend is an adult pupil (which I'm guessing is the case), what is a potential teacher's approach to this? Not all teachers are good with adult learners, some may refuse outright, and some think it's just the same as teaching children. What do previous pupils/parents have to say about the teacher? Can anyone offer a personal recommendation?

As I mentioned before, what sort of things do they want to sing? If they're interested in exams, is this the sort of thing the teacher does? Are they looking for a teacher which provides opportunities, for example, to perform, beyond the individual lesson?

Speaking as a teacher, I provide the answers to virtually all these questions on my website, so when people do get in touch, the questions usually only relate to availability and booking a lesson. Virtually all my enquiries come through my website, so a simple Google search is a good way to start.
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#4 Maria

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 21:20

I think Seer Green's advice is really good.

The biggest thing I'd say is to be honest about your expectations and the sort of music you want to sing and don't be afraid to say no if you feel it's not right for you. Someone can be a great teacher, but not a great teacher for you.


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#5 Seer_Green

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 21:21

QUOTE(Maria @ May 20 2012, 10:20 PM) View Post

The biggest thing I'd say is to be honest about your expectations and the sort of music you want to sing and don't be afraid to say no if you feel it's not right for you. Someone can be a great teacher, but not a great teacher for you.

Totally agree, and I think because singing is such a personal thing, honesty is even more important.
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#6 Tenor Viol

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 22:12

Agree with the above. My teacher was a professional counter-tenor, had performed in major venues, but couldn't make enough money from performing alone so moved into teaching as well. I started with him when he had just retired from performing as a counter-tenor. He also sang as a lay clerk for many years. He ran his local music service.

He had a mixture of youngsters and adults as pupils. One of his female pupils became BBC Chorister of the year (or whatever it was called).

He ran his own chamber choir and that provioded me with lots of experience - started off with Christmas concerts, Messiah, Stainer Crucifixion, general concerts with lots of small pieces etc.

I knew none of this at the time. I was lucky and landed in the right place. Probably a bit of planning would help to ensure a good landing. tongue.gif

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#7 Alicia Ocean

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 08:24

There are teachers registers at

the Associationof Teachers of Singing - AOTOS http://directory.aotos.org.uk/
and

the ISM http://musicdirector...ncedsearch.aspx
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#8 silverfoxx

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 11:12

QUOTE(Alicia Ocean @ May 21 2012, 09:24 AM) View Post

There are teachers registers at

the Associationof Teachers of Singing - AOTOS http://directory.aotos.org.uk/
and

the ISM http://musicdirector...ncedsearch.aspx



Hi Vile din?
I have recently returned to singing myself and despite living in England I decided to return to my Glasgow based singing teacher and to commute as and when I could. This is working a treat for me.
It may seem important that the teacher who holds most qualifications or the singer who has the most impressive CV will be the best teacher. But what works for is me that you get on with your teacher and that there is a bond between you based upon this trust trust. This is where the enjoyment and success comes from and is based upon close teamwork.

So where to begin?

I would suggest that you may have to try out a few teachers in an attempt to get the right relationship going and I would approach the local independent schools for suggestions about teachers they may have or may use.
The best choirs will have lists of music teachers and I would make contact with them and ask them for their input. I am reluctant to recommend any one teacher over another but may I suggest you make contact with these people or organisations as they seemed to have some recent success?

Longbenton Community College Choir.
Nikki Holmes, musical director of the choir,
http://www.longbenton.org.uk/
Durham University Voices,
http://www.dunelm.or...ge.aspx?pid=760
North East Gospel Choir,
http://www.20000voic...t-gospel-choir/
Newcastle College Foundation Degree Musical Theatre Ensemble
http://www.ncl-coll....?courseid=12463
Backworth Male Voice Choir.
http://www.backworthchoir.co.uk/
Len Young, conductor and musical director of Cleveland Philharmonic Choir
http://www.cleveland...monicchoir.com/
Sandra Kerr, musical director of Northumberland choir Werca?s Folk.
http://www.wercasfol...ercas_Folk.html


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#9 katica

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 00:51

I've found a singing teacher. Now the problem is persuading her to find some time for me. rolleyes.gif

(Sorry to hijack your post, Viledin4u. Good luck with your own teacher-hunting. smile.gif )
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#10 JudithJ

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 12:11

Someone recently recommended that I ask potential voice teachers to permit me to observe a lesson as a way to help me decide whether or not their teaching style would work for me. I think that the idea was that I'd be able to see the relationship between the teacher and the student, and the sort of thing that the teacher emphasised (interpretation, technique etc).

I'm not sure whether I'd like this as either the teacher or the student (or indeed as the observer!).

Does anyone have any thoughts as to whether this would be useful or feasible?
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#11 Maria

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 20:21

I don't know whether watching would give you a good sense or not really. I know that I am often quite different with students (at school - I'm not a music/singing teacher) depending on their personalities. So you might observe someone teaching a student who's very different to you and it might affect your perception of that teacher. eg. If they're teaching someone who's very confident and experienced they may work with them in a different way to the way they'd work with a beginner who has issues with confidence, and this might give you the wrong impression of the way they'd work with you.

I may be completely wrong on that one - I know that's true of me but it may not be of other teachers. I do think, though, that the best way for you to find out is to try. I went to a singing lesson with a teacher a few years ago and, although she was a lovely girl, I got a good sense that she wasn't the right teacher for me. I really think you do know, just be confident in your judgement.
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#12 JudithJ

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 22:39

Thanks. My gut feeling was that it wasn't a good idea.
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#13 Alicia Ocean

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 07:53

My old singing teacher had a piano diploma (as well as a higher singing diploma, and diploma in teaching singing) and it didn't really register to me at the time how lucky I was in that she could just play the piano on demand. I think being able to accompany would come high on my list were I looking for a singing teacher now.

Qualifications are nice but unnecessary - if I wanted to take exams I'd be asking about past results, particularly at the higher grades (as I've got grade 5), and an ability to accompany to some degree in the lessons - even if it was not good enough for exam purposes (I accompany my own pupils in flute lessons but not exams).
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#14 Maria

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 08:47

QUOTE(Alicia Ocean @ May 23 2012, 08:53 AM) View Post

My old singing teacher had a piano diploma (as well as a higher singing diploma, and diploma in teaching singing) and it didn't really register to me at the time how lucky I was in that she could just play the piano on demand. I think being able to accompany would come high on my list were I looking for a singing teacher now.


Now I've changed my mind on this one. I used to think that I needed a singing teacher to accompany me but I wouldn't be bothered about that now. It's so easy to use backing tracks, etc. that I wouldn't see that as essential. I know this has been discussed here before and that there are a lot of singing teachers on here who can play piano but choose not to accompany for the most part.
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#15 Lucysop

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 09:19

Hi Viledin
A very good question and you have recieved some good advice already.

Having had a couple of poor teachers in my past which caused damage, it is a worry that you will go to someone who looks good on paper, may even be a great singer fantastic accompanist - but a dreadful teacher!

I think having consultation lessons are essential, as not only do you need to get on, but you need to feel comfortable with their teaching style as well...but bear in mind that when progressing you will be asked to do things which may not feel comfortable to you - if your previous technique was poor and you are trying to improve it. The teacher will also be looking to hear what your voice is doing at the moment - what you feel needs attention, your expectations for the future as well: this they will balance with what they feel the voice needs and how they would progress with you to achieve these things.

Asking around from other singers who produce a good sound in the locality can be very useful, also attend some masterclass workshops - even if only as an observer. This way you have an opportunity of seeing their teaching technique in action and being able to evaluate the feedback they give other singers - if you can understand what they are saying about a singers sound and changes they suggest the singer to make that improves the end result (albeit perhaps only fleetingly) then you should be able to trust their judgement when they come to giving you feedback - particularly if it is not what you are expecting to hear! wink.gif

AOTOS - as mentioned is a good resource, and possibly the BVA - British Voice Association.

Good luck. It is so important that you get along personaility wise and that you feel they understand what you need - and that you can trust them implicitly! smile.gif
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