Is Your Voice Teacher Right for You? 3 Questions to Ask Yourself

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I’ve had the great privilege and the great difficulty of having many many voice teachers in my life. Each one was a different flavor and produced unique vocal results. Choosing a voice teacher can be almost as personal as choosing a therapist and you want to be sure that you share your journey with a mentor that’s best for you! There are many things to consider. Here are a few big questions that will help point you in the right direction. 

1. What kind of student are you?
Are you someone that thrives with deadlines and a highly involved mentor with a lesson plan? Or maybe you need your artistic exploration respected and enjoy the independence of trial by error in a safe space. Either way, it comes from a place of deep care for your identity and it’s absolutely possible to find a teacher that caters to either set of needs. Knowing more about your style and how you respond in academic settings is the first step in finding what works for you! 

2. Do you know your repertoire?
Whether you know every song in musical theater history or only “that one song from that one show,” rep is important! Be sure to communicate with your teacher whether or not you want to be picking your own material. There are benefits to both. Picking your own material ensures that you like what you’re singing! But it doesn’t always ensure that it’s the best song to be singing in correlation with what you’re learning at the moment. Having a conversation with your teacher about assignments can be very helpful in balancing rewarding material and educational material. Either way, you’ll have learned more about your voice and navigating it in a way that works for you. 

3. Where are you in your vocal journey?
If you’re doing what’s best for your artistic identity, there aren’t many ways you can be wrong in picking a voice teacher. But with such a wide breadth of options to pick from, you must know thyself. No, you can not be “wrong” but you can be misinformed, unsure, or self-conscious. We often feel that once we are with a voice teacher, we are stuck with them or it may be too much of a pain to start the search again. I encourage you to consider where you are in your education and vocal exploration. There are teachers out there that are “teachers of voice” and others that are “coaches of inspiration.”  If you’re at the beginning of your journey, finding a teacher of voice who will respect your newfound enthusiasm with focus on breath and fundamentals is essential. If you’re more advanced and have an established toolbox of tips and tricks you already use in your career, finding a coach with the ability to inspire and a career you admire will work better for you. 

The human voice is simultaneously highly sensitive and ferociously athletic. It’s a muscle that can be trained to excellence or worked to a point of exhaustion with bad form. It’s an instrument that may need to be adjusted and retuned, and sometimes cleaned out of all the gunk that’s accumulated during usage. It can sometimes expose your heart, shaking when you’re afraid, and strong and resilient when you have something to say. More importantly, your voice is your very own. No one else has a voice that is quite like yours. Bringing someone into this spectacular vehicle of sound can be an extremely intimate experience and the biggest question of all is this is are you being heard? You know your voice the best. It’s wholly yours and you can trust that if something feels wrong, it is. It may take a few tries, but you deserve someone that listens and trusts as much as they teach.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Kuhoo Verma
Kuhoo Verma is an NYC-based artist who’s seen in shows at Joe’s Pub, 54 Below, and Rockwood Music Hall. Some favorite roles include Velma in Dave Malloy’s “OCTET” (Lucille Lortel Win for Outstanding Actor, Drama Desk Win), and Academy Award-nominated “The Big Sick.” You may have also seen her at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Lincoln Center, the Public Theatre, Carnegie Hall, and countless others. She has a degree in voice from NYU and coaches regularly.
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