Preparing for Your Voice Lesson
Since 1999, I have had the privilege of studying voice with Maestro David Jones in New York City. David has mastered the technique of Swedish/Italian school of singing, which goes back to Enrico Caruso. David developed his technique through studies with Alan Lindquest. The technique is designed to balance the voice from top to bottom with no obvious breaks. The voice becomes fuller, richer, more flexible and certainly more powerful. Singing becomes effortless, which allows the singer to practice longer and also sing entire roles without exhaustion, or damage to the vocal chords. The voice becomes stronger through the study of this technique.
During your lesson, we will vocalize to find out what exercises work best for you. Every student is different, and what works for one student may not necessarily work for another. Whatever the case may be, we will find exercises which will address the challenges you face, as a singer.
You should bring a recording device of some kind to your lesson. That way, you will have a practice guide with which to work until your next lesson. I record all of my own lessons, and I find more information on each tape every time I listen to it.
APPLYING THE TECHNIQUE
Many students want to know how to apply the vocal exercises to song repertory. During the lesson we will break down songs on which you are working into phrases. I will show you how to apply each exercise to any given phrase, in any type of music.
CLASSICAL VS. POP
Students often ask if this technique will make them sound like an Opera singer. My answer to that question is, “only if you want it to.” While the technique is classically based, it does not only apply to the Classical singer. Furthermore, having a solid classical foundation in any art form will only help the artist become greater in his craft. For example, a person who wants to become a great Jazz dancer will need a good foundation in Ballet. Ballet allows the dancer to develop balance in the body, lengthen their muscles, and develop a strong inner core. Using these classic principles, a Ballet dancer can easily learn a Jazz routine. The same is true, when you study Classical techniques in voice. Many times in my career I have been asked to perform various music styles such as Pop, Rock, Opera, and Country all in the same show. Using a technique that is based on classical principles has allowed my voice to become more versatile.
Female students are often concerned with the art of belting. In today’s demanding industry, the female voice is often required to belt to the top of her chest voice and then sing head voice for another song. This technique allows me to teach my students to belt without pushing the chest voice up. This way, the voice will remain balanced, which will allow the singer to switch to head voice easily when needed. You will develop a true healthy sound for belting through a mixing of the voice.
There is an old saying that adequately addresses the issue of practicing. “How will you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, Practice, Practice.” Today’s hectic society does not make it easy for a person to find the time to practice. However, singers need to practice in order to develop the muscle memory needed to solidify the technique. If you want a fabulous body, you need to work out regularly, watch your diet, get plenty of rest, drink lots of water, and avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. The same rule applies to your voice. It needs time to exercise. A little practice every day is good. Practicing for couple of hours broken into a three-part session every day is even better. Finally, it is also important for the singer to drink lots of water while practicing. Think of your voice as a Mercedes engine. You would not drive it without oil to properly lubricate it.
A NOTE ABOUT ALCOHOL, CIGARETTES, AND DRUGS
Alcohol has become part of every day life in today’s world. Unfortunately, it wreaks havoc on the vocal chords and the esophagus. Moderation is the key. The more you drink, the less lubricated the vocal chords will become. Drinking heavily will also cause your esophagus to become inflamed.
Cigarettes of any kind are completely out of the question for singers. Most people know about the harmful effects of smoking to overall health. However, cigarettes are especially hazardous to aspiring singers because the literally burn the thin edges of the vocal chords. This will cause the voice to create a raspy sound, and thereby loose its beauty. If a raspy sound is what you are searching for, consider other healthier ways to achieve it. Smoking will not help you become a good singer by any means.
Drugs of the illicit nature further hinder any type of healthy vocal function. A singer should think of himself or herself as a champion athlete. Illicit drugs have no place in this playing field, period.
Because many students are working in touring shows, they obviously cannot take regular lessons. However, if your goal is to become one of those touring performers, I recommend weekly or bi-weekly lessons. One of my most successful students took bi-weekly lessons with me before landing a role in the national tour of “Aida.” Still, other students work with me every other week and go to a repertory coach between lessons.
I have a 24-hour cancellation policy that works like this. If you DO NOT cancel your lesson within a 24-hour time frame, you will be charged for that lesson. If I cancel your lesson within a 24-hour time frame, your next lesson will be free.
Punctuality is always appreciated. However, lesson time is yours, so if you are late, it is your time that is lost. I do understand that unforeseen events can prevent you from being on time. If you are late, as a cause of such an event, I’ll be happy to extend your lesson time into the next hour, provided that there is no one else scheduled at that time. Otherwise, I will try to make up for lost time in future lessons. Please call me as soon as you know that you will be late.
Payment for the lesson is due at the time the service is rendered. The worse thing for me is to have to ASK the student for payment. This is very uncomfortable and can hinder the student-teacher relationship. It is always courteous to pay your teacher at the beginning of your lesson.