Michelle’s Advice for Singers Looking for Voice Teachers

by | Jul 27, 2022

Category: Business
7 min read

We are trying something today! Do any of you remember the “Dear Abby” column? (Did I just majorly show my age?)

The SECOmpatriots tell me X is today’s equivalent. And apparently, Dear Ruthie is pretty awesome too (Happy Pride, y’all!).

These people are “professional advice givers.” People would write their hard questions to them, and they would write back their advice.

I’m in an advice-y mood lately, so I thought I’d throw my hat in the “professional advice giver” ring.

NOTE: THIS IS MY ADVICE AND MY OPINION. It’s up to your own good sense whether you deem it worthy of your business.

Here is a question that came across my desk (← sounds fancier than it is) from a friend who is a high level executive coach. We met in a mastermind together.

Now you may be wondering why I am answering a question from a singer in a blog that is written for teachers.

It’s because I want you to see how I would answer this question. I want you to know how well informed I believe potential clients of ours are, and what I suggest they do when seeking us out.

And if your inquiry process is missing something, I’d like you to have an idea of how you can show up for your inquiries ready to serve.

Here’s the question:

“Random question for you, Michelle, as I am just in an exploratory phase right now. If I wanted to get voice/singing lessons, how would you suggest I look for a good teacher for me? Or a class? Where do a start?”

Here’s my answer:

“Ahhhhh! It’s so great to hear from you! I love seeing what you’re creating.

I’m so glad you asked this question, because I have big opinions, as you know. First of all, be ready for a lot of very unclear inquiry processes from voice teachers – many people don’t have the same kinds SOP’s in place that you and I would – it’s more of a casual thing.

That being said, there are some INCREDIBLE teachers out there who just need a little polishing when it comes to the inquiry process, so give them some grace.

First, decide if you’d prefer online or in-person lessons, or if you don’t care. This will help because there are still many teachers who are not teaching voice or singing lessons in person quite yet. If you are open to online lessons, it opens up your search to expand beyond your area.

If you expand beyond your area, you potentially open up the gates to finding someone who is in perfect alignment with your values, your needs, and your goals.

Here are some questions to ask yourself, before you search for a voice or singing teacher:

  1. Why is now the right time to explore your voice?
  2. Do you have any goals around your voice work? (for example: Would you like to perform, or sing in the shower for yourself?)
  3. How comfortable are you with doing new things and putting yourself in a position where you may feel out of your element? Do you need to be handled gently or do you prefer straight to the point feedback?
  4. What are your expectations around what voice lessons are like?
  5. What kind of music do you want to sing/explore?
  6. Are you a nerdy nerd that wants to know a lot about the function, or are you in it to simply sing and have fun?

Once you’ve thought through these, you are ready to start seeking out your teacher.

You can google, or you can reach out to people you know (like me) to help give you ideas on who may be good for you.

When you DO find a teacher website or get a contact, try to figure out if the studio’s messaging is in alignment with your goals:

  • Look at the about page.
  • Read the bio.
  • If they have a lot of classical training, but you want to sing Jazz, either skip them, or look for signs that they can competently do both.
  • Look to see if they can communicate what they do for YOU, rather than who they think they are.

Just know that our field is kind of weird around businessy things – lots of great teachers have no idea how to write website copy or communicate their awesomeness, so try to get as much info up front before you book if the website isn’t clear.

I was a guest on Dr. Dan’s Voice Essentials on this very topic: “How to find a voice teacher that fits YOU”. Check it out below.

Book a discovery call with the potential teacher

Many teachers have a discovery call you can book, and some have contact forms.

If they have a discovery call – BOOK IT! Ask a lot of questions.

For example, a lot of teachers say they teach “all genres” and “all levels” – you’ll want to ask about this.

Ask what kind of experiences they have that show that this is true?

What do they love about the music YOU want to sing?

Do you need to learn to read music in order to work with them? If you don’t want to read music, are they okay with that?

Ask about how it works to be in their studio – what are their policies and how do lessons work? Ask about scheduling, outside of lesson time, etc.

Ask about their philosophy of teaching – are they master/apprentice style or co-creator style? Which do you prefer?

Take note of how prepared they are to answer these questions – knowing that some may not be – and ask yourself if you’re comfortable with them.

Some people call themselves teachers when they are coaches.

A teacher will teach function, the how, technical concepts.
A coach will ask you to sound certain ways without being able to tell you how to get there.

When all is said and done, remember that there really is no “one right way” to sing – while there are definitely more effective and sound methodologies – don’t be shy to ask about their training.

Do avoid studying with a classical teacher if you want to learn to sing pop/rock/jazz/etc, and vice versa! They are two different technical approaches that require the sensory and motor function to be different to achieve different tonal outcomes (how you want to sound).

If you are able, take a few lessons with a few different people. See if you vibe with their style, their personality, and how they communicate with you. This is your VOICE! It’s a super personal thing, and you should feel that you have a great balance of “outside the comfort zone” while also having full agency.

Ah, and just know – voice lessons shouldn’t be cheap. I’m not sure what you’re expecting to spend, but know that voice isn’t piano or drums. Since you are in [redacted for privacy], be prepared to have some teachers offer commitment based pricing options (sometimes called “tuition”).

Some people still charge “per hour” but there’s a ton that goes into voice outside a session that should be accounted for as well. You want someone who knows this and charges accordingly. Some people do pay per service, others will do a tuition type thing, or a punch card. The equivalent billable hour will probably be no less than $90/hr. (If it’s less than that, be cautious.)

Check in on your vibe! Trust your nuggets. If it feels good scary and exiting, go for it! If it feels transactional and unclear, find someone else.

Congratulations on dipping your toe in the water of sound. If there is anything else I can do to move the process along, let me know.

Also, let me know how it turns out! I can’t wait to see who you find to guide your journey!

Are you prepared to answer this question?

That’s how I answered this question. How would YOU answer it? Would you be prepared if this person came to you with all these questions?

My hope is that you’d be prepared and delighted that someone was inquiring with such attention to their own desires and curiosities.

If there’s an area that felt less comfortable, what can you do to make it more so?

Curious to know.. and I also hope that seeing how I answered this question will empower you to offer your services with clarity and confidence.

All My BeastyBoss,

Michelle Markwart Deveaux blog signature

P.S. The team is ready to sell the very first version of our very first ebook! We’re calling it The Art of the Inquiry…. keep your eyes peeled for it, because it’s gonna be goooooooood! I am proud of myself for writing an ACTUAL BOOK and super impressed with Christin and Sara, editors, questioners, and formatter Goddesses! YAY!

How to find a voice teacher that fits YOU! | Michelle Markwart Deveaux with #DrDan 🔴

Michelle Markwart Deveaux

Michelle Markwart Deveaux (116)

As CEO of FaithCultureKiss Studios, LLC, I lead underestimated humans through the personal and professional development needed to create successful solo and team-based businesses.

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