Vocal Music Transition:
Support for SF Bay Area Working Singers:
Support for Teachers:
SF Bay Area Opera Companies:
If you are considering developing your vocal potential through private lessons, many congratulations! It takes a great deal of courage to even consider taking this step. You have been given a gift in your voice. Improving it can be rewarding, invigorating and, I believe, can help to make the world a better place. Music has always been a great unifier, in times of celebration and adversity. Bringing your voice to the world is a wonderful thing!
When choosing a voice teacher, do your homework. There are many great singers who do not know how to teach, as well as many wonderful teachers who are somewhat inconspicuous. Speak to singers you admire and ask with whom they study. Check out teacher listings on your local NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) website. Call local colleges, universities and conservatories to ask for recommendations.
After you have some possibilities, call or e-mail to ask questions. Singing is a very personal endeavor, and as a student you can feel very vulnerable. Make sure that you feel comfortable with this person. Ask about rates, availability, policies, "methods". Be sure that everything makes sense to you. When you find a teacher with whom you feel comfortable, ask for an introductory lesson (you should expect to pay for this). Don't commit yourself to a series of lessons before you know whether you can have a comfortable working relationship with this person.
If your teacher does not provide a recording device, bring your own to the lesson and record everything. Some nuggets of valuable wisdom may come in the first few minutes of chit-chat. If a teacher does not allow you to record your lesson - BEWARE! This is your time and your money. You should be able to have a permanent record of not only the information, but of your improvement. This can be very enlightening, since singers mainly hear their own voice through the vibrations of the bones in the head. You need to hear what the rest of the world hears!
Once you decide upon a teacher, be sure that you practice. Singing is a physical activity (like sports), and the muscles require proper daily practice for efficient development. Don't expect to improve if you only sing at your lesson. Typical minimum practice time is 30 minutes daily, 1 hour is optimal. The more conscientious you are about practicing, the more quickly you will develop.
Remember that although perfecting your instrument is a lot of work, it should be fun! Enjoy yourself. Revel in the novelty, the discovery, the freedom that comes in using your own body as an instrument. What you are is God's gift to you, what you become is your gift to God, and to the world.
Linda Noble Brown was the vocal teacher at College of Marin (marin.edu) from 1997-2019, and has had an extensive vocal practice for over 25 years before retiring. Known in some circles as the "voice doctor", Linda taught physiologically based vocal techniques that apply to any vocal style, from opera to musical theatre to rock & roll. She is still happy to discuss vocal technique via email.