Do Singing Lessons Work?
A very common question new students ask is: do singing lessons work?
Of course, as a voice teacher, I think that voice lessons are worth it for anyone who is looking to improve their voice. But while many voice teachers will tell you that singing lessons work (especially lessons with them), I can only speak from my own experience.
The truth is it’s very difficult to illustrate how singing lessons work in a concrete way. There are very few before and after shots of the teachers that tell you that singing lessons are necessary. So I wanted to share my own journey of how singing lessons helped my voice.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve also included some recordings from before I took lessons so that I can share a bit about how singing lessons have helped me. I hope you can learn from them and we can have some fun critiquing my voice before and after singing lessons.
Are Singing Lessons Necessary?
I’d like to start by saying that singing lessons are not necessary for everyone that sings. There are many folks out there that sing perfectly well on their own, provided that they’re not singing 350 days a year like many professionals.
For many of us, singing lessons are a fun way to improve a skill that we love: singing. In voice lessons, we’re getting in touch with our bodies, our own sounds and singing with our favorite music.
But for others with more ambitious goals such as touring, recording, getting paid gigs, voice lessons may be a lifesaver.
That’s because the voice is a complex instrument. It’s flesh and blood. It’s also one of the few instruments that you can’t see or touch yourself to diagnose what’s wrong. For those that are making their living using their voice, singing lessons are just as much about maintaining their instrument as learning how to use it.
There are tons of singers that badly need some voice lessons in order to prevent themselves from the harm of overuse and misuse. And even though I wasn’t on a world tour, or making tons of money from my music, I was one of those singers.
Do Voice Lessons Help?
It was nearly 10 years ago that I was living in San Francisco, CA. I would wake up early each morning to run to the train station and grab a spot on the floor by the escalators. Setting my guitar case down, I looked around nervously hoping that nobody would yell at me that day.
Then I would pick up my guitar, take a quick look at my set list of 20 songs, and begin to sing and play to the rush hour commuters as they headed onto trains downtown.
During the morning rush, I would look into the crowd and see people smiling. Some recognized the songs I was playing and tip me.
Most of the time, I would sing in the train station until my voice gave out. Typically this was about 2 hours of non-stop singing or until I had run through every song that I knew twice. Or sometimes until there was nobody left.
And while there were many people who loved what I did, the truth was that I wasn’t a very good singer. I was absolutely in love with Radiohead, Jeff Buckley and Elliott Smith, all of whom sang very high.
So in general, I would sing at the top of my range until it broke. If that failed I would try to belt out the notes as best I could.
But at the end of the morning, I was sick of playing songs that everyone loved only to ruin the money notes.
And no matter how hard I tried to hide it, I had to admit to myself that I needed help.
Around this same time, I was also writing and recording my own songs each day. My hope was that I would be able to “break through” the vocal wall that I had hit and join the great singers of my generation.
But the hard part of recording is having to listen to yourself.
And I wasn’t sounding that great.
Getting Singing Lessons Help
After months of this, I started doing tons of research on whether voice lessons really help singers. I was amazed at how many people were satisfied with their progress. Some people wrote great reviews for their teachers and claimed they had never sung better.
But was that really possible? Do singing lessons really work?
I had to find out. So I booked a free trial voice lesson with a local voice teacher and we got to work. Within 10 minutes, he had immediately diagnosed my vocal issues and was helping me fix them.
Then we started working on some songs that I wrote and I couldn’t believe how much the exercises he gave me helped.
What Do Voice Lessons Teach You?
I look back at those first few lessons and think about how far I’ve come.
It’s almost unimaginable to me that I had such a hard time with those high notes. While hitting them perfectly can vary day by day, I never worry about whether I have those notes in my range. They’re always there thanks to my amazing voice teachers.
For me, voice lessons are absolutely worth it. And now as a teacher I can tell you that singing lessons really helped me improve my pitch and tone, find a mixed voice and expand my range.
Can Singing Lessons Work for You?
While everyone starts at a different level of skill and talent, some of the skills you get in voice lessons are applicable to everyone.
Learning to coordinate the muscles that make singing work has a lasting effect on your voice.
What to Expect from Singing Lessons
Here’s a short list of some of the things you should expect from taking voice lessons.
- Improved pitch and tone
- Knowledge of your range
- A stronger mix (that is, the blend of chest and head voice)
- A real understanding of what your voice is and can do
In my experience, when a singer is first starting to take voice lessons, the first thing they notice that improves is their pitch, tone and volume. Many of my students remark at how easy singing feels after a few lessons.
Soon after they begin, we start to discuss range and how we can start to expand and grow a singer’s ability to hit higher notes as well as lower notes.
While expanding the range is very important, one of the most important things for my voice has been learning to sing in a mix. A mix is the ability to sing from the bottom to the top of your voice without straining or breaking. This was possibly one of the biggest benefits to taking singing lessons.
It meant I was no longer butchering the money notes in people’s favorite songs. And I was grateful. No longer was I asking “do singing lessons work?”. I knew they did.
One of the things that I’m still developing in my voice lessons is an awareness of what my voice does naturally. This may sound vague but I’m still learning to sing in my own voice. This is totally natural and takes a lifetime to practice. But it is still one of the most evergreen skills that I have grown in singing lessons.
A Few Notes About Singing Lessons
While singing lessons work for everyone, sometimes a person needs to take a break from lessons in order to fully understand the benefit they receive from them. But more often, an untrained singer needs to hit their vocal wall in order to admit that they need help (like I did).
If you feel that you’ve hit your vocal wall, consider booking a trial free voice lesson at the studio and we’ll see what’s missing. I’m so grateful to be able to share my experience and teach singing lessons to others.
Singing lessons are available for students in Austin or Round Rock, TX or by Skype worldwide.