"My high school choir director told me I couldn\u2019t sing, but my kids love it when I sing to them. Should I take voice lessons?"


I can barely express HOW OFTEN I have heard this from adult voice students. People have come to lessons fearful and practically trembling because they so badly want to sing and someone once told them they couldn’t or they shouldn’t. For these students, it’s a particularly meaningful journey as we explore their voice and their musical creativity together.

As a music teacher, as a voice teacher, as an advocate for the arts, it’s baffling to me that so many people have this experience in their school music program. Thank goodness this isn’t true for a lot of the high school teachers I know today! HOWEVER, this has been a very common obstacle to a lot of people who love to sing. So what do you do?

1. SING. If you like to sing, then SING. Sing in the shower, sing in the car, sing when you’re home alone, sing out on a walk through the forest, sing with your kids, sing in your place of worship, join the choir, join a community choir, join a community theater troupe, sing with the music at the grocery store, sing as you craft, sing as you file papers.

2. Remember that your voice in high school was different than it was now. Everybody’s voice changes with time, our physical health, and our physical development (remember, our voices don’t fully develop until we are 30-45 years old).

3. Find a voice teacher you can get to know, you like well from the beginning, and you can come to trust. Use the voice teacher search at the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) site, search on the internet, ask your choir director for a recommendation, ask a musician friend, and set up first one month of lessons.

Over the course of 4 lessons, you should be able to get a good feeling for this voice instructor and how well you’ll work together over time. If you do like this first teacher, stay. Enjoy the beautiful music you will make together. If you aren’t sure or definitely don’t care for this teacher, go ahead and set up another month’s worth of lessons with a different teacher and re-evaluate after those 4 lessons.

4. The real work is up to you. No voice teacher can make you sing perfectly or make your voice anything in particular (in fact, the NATS code of ethicsprohibits voice teachers from making any such promises (Section II Nr 6))—the work is up to you. This is why it is so important to find a teacher you trust so you can break through the barriers created when that one person said XYZ so long ago. Find a great voice instructor FOR YOU, sing sing sing, and enjoy the journey!


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