Do I need singing lessons?
Most people decide that the reason not to choose to have even a few singing lessons is because they can’t justify the investment in relation to how much they believe they will get out of it. We can only learn so much on our own before we need either a greater challenge or to ask for some help, be it even once or twice.
I have a dedicated ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section, but on this page I would like to dispel the myth that you can “learn to sing”. The voice is a small yet complex instrument which is affected by environmental and physical stresses, I know more than most people how the smallest stress can change the way you produce sound or especially use your voice to sing with (for more info see the About Shelly section). So it stands to reason that if we don’t keep up with regular exercise and correct technique for the ever changing delicate vocal cords you will encounter problems. In my lessons I use a lot of sporting analogies, I believe the idea of having just a few singing lessons at the start of your singing career and then ‘going it alone’ is like an athlete training without a coach, or a dancer learning the basics and then believing they then know all the moves there are! But like sports people and dancers, vocalists obtain injuries too. Ever watched a game of football and noticed a physio comes onto the pitch and treats even the slightest twinge? Or, they tape up a muscle to help support it? The reason they do this is firstly for relief, even if it’s a small injury and secondly to prevent further damage. Note the last point – TO PREVENT FURTHER DAMAGE. Singing lessons and practices of good vocal health are not maintained because you constantly need to ‘learn to sing’ they are necessary because it is difficult as the vocalist to hear or spot problems before they present with symptoms. We want you to get the best results out of your voice and prevent misuse of the voice before encountering any problems.
If you’re anything like me, when I had my very first singing lesson, the only thing I could think about was – what if I don’t sing well, what if she doesn't like my voice, I hope she thinks I'm a good singer? Considering I was only 12 years old, I’m not sure the same thoughts were running through my singing teacher’s head. And anyway regardless of age, and contrary to popular belief, that is not a singing teacher’s job. A singing teacher is NEVER there to judge you. Do not ever pay anyone to ‘assess the quality of your voice’ or ‘answer questions relating to lessons’. All this is a natural process of a singing lesson and yes, the initial lesson may need to be longer or we may not get along to singing a song, but this all forms the getting to know you and your voice and any questions you need to ask prior to your lesson that are not covered on the website, feel free to ask away over email or on the phone – I will never charge for a phone call or email outside of a lesson!
What will I do in a singing lesson?
During your first lesson with me, we will have a discussion about any problems you are having, if any, what direction your music is taking you in, the sort of things you want to achieve in your singing, or what you are currently working towards. However, at first the most important thing for me is getting you singing as soon as possible and helping you in your first lesson. Whether you are experienced or not I will ask you to sing a series of exercises so I can hear what’s happening in your voice.
Some of us don’t like to admit we may need a little help from time to time, and even those musically educated need someone else to properly assess where the problems lie. The difference with singing than any other instrument is simply that we can’t see what is going on inside your body. As singers too, we can’t properly hear what is happening, even on a good day. The only true way is recording ourselves and listening and/or watching back. The reason for this is actually quite complicated due to the way sound travels, but simply put our instrument is so near our ears and resonating chambers. Our voice resonates in our chest and face/head and depending on the size of the wave form by the time it goes back around to our ears to assess and possibly adjust the sound, the moment you wanted to adjust has already passed. Singing training therefore takes a certain amount of trust and so recording yourself in the lessons and beyond goes a long way into advancing your training to fully develop.