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What to look for in a teacher?

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Another thread was derailed for a while with a discussion on what makes for a good teacher of singing. Can that apply to teaching in general?

I am not a teacher of singing. I'm not a singing expert in any fashion. And I learn stuff from guys young enough to be my son.

But I can comment on teaching from my perspective (outside of singing) if you will bear with me.

My career has been that of an electrician. I have been to college a few times majoring in EE but never graduated with a degree. In reality, I have studied electricity and electronics since 1975, thanks to the prodding of my step-grandfather, who also said "sing from the diaphragm." Everyone in our family sang, whether we were good, or not. My step-grandfather was good and sang bass and baritone stuff in church. As I have mentioned elsewhere, I remember him wandering around the house rehearsing "Sunrise, Sunset" from "Fiddler on the Roof." And then, we would stay up and watch "Jesus Christ, Superstar." So, as you can see, it's all his fault.

Anyway, I have taught electrical work to others. Informally, as it were, on the job, while we were completing a task. And not just how to bend pipe but how to do power calcuations for a dry-type 3-phase transformer changing 480 V 3 phase to 208 V 3 phase. How to use the NEC book to calculate load for a room, if necessary. (Commercial spaces are 180 VA per square foot. Houses are 3 VA per square foot. Unless it is a space that is not zoned, in which case, refer to the 180 VA.) And the mathematical approach to why one uses the square root of 3 (1.732) in 3 phase power calculations. Both my original approach of spherical trigonometry. And then that of Pythagoras Theorem, as highlighted to me by a co-worker who was from the Ukraine and learned it that way.) His was simpler, more straight-forward.

And then, I have taught it formally in a program funded by the US Dept of Labor. Several campuses around the country offer this training program of several trades to "disadvantaged" and "at-risk" youths, age 16 - 24. You can read the last as gangstas and gangsta wannabes. The only reason most of them are there is the 24 month free ride offered by the program. The campus I was at was operated by a private contractor. Other trades included painting, plumbing and HVAC, building maintenance, bricklaying, and concrete, as well as culinary arts.

All of the hard trades were union and had their own contract with the Dept of Labor. The electrical part was non-union. So, I was a direct employee of the private contractor. The electrical program was designed by an ex-marine with no experience in the electrical trade. He went straight from being a staff sgt to designing the publishing of this book. Got it accepted by the sec of Labor to be the program used in RTW (right to work) states like Texas. Each chapter is a module. Each module has a completion certificate to be completed and collected by my supervisors, who then turn it into this guy's program center, to be logged as accreditation in his system for that student.

The previous instructor that I replaced (he had just retired) came from being a comm. tech in the Navy. And he had a certificate in teaching trade programs (not specific to electrical.) The other electrical instructor was a computer network designer, before. As far as I can tell, I was the first instructor who was actually an honest-to-goodness working electrician. Nevertheless, I successfully completed certification for this book program.

Not long after that, the Dept of Labor decided the trade buildings should be "green" complying with the government's new desire that all buildings and equipment be of the "approved" type. My building was the first on the list. This meant gutting everything out. My classroom and office were literally dismantled down to the last piece of wood. New power had to be run for new 19-seer heat pump units. The windows were replaced with glass brick. And, because I had troubleshooting skills par excellence, me and some of the brighter students became the ad hoc "service call" dept.

Which was fine with me. You learn by doing. Here is what I am teaching you applied to real life. When you get a job, this is what you will actually be doing.

Procedural problems abounded. In spite of that, my students, all from hard luck backgrounds were learning, excelling, becoming competent as electricians and helpers.

Then, I was audited by the designer of the book. Never mind that the chapter on pipe bending was written more obtuse than it needed to be. I had him watch me teach a class on pipe bending. Never once referred to the book. Didn't bother sitting in my half-finished classroom. Never mind that my new supervisor's previous position on campus was director of physical activities. And I could have written the book's module on pipe bending better and easier than what it was. (That is not arrogance, please believe me.) By the end of the day, one student was able to bend 4-point saddles around obstacles. You don't have to understand other than to know that in the real world of working electricians, this is golden. A valued skill that sets you a mark above. And the program guy auditing me thought that was wrong, that I should be directing his each and every muscle twitch. But, at some point, the student has to teach himself, past just your words.

So, they fired me, as they were about to lose their accreditation for the electrical program because I had not the time for the modules paperwork and they were also deficient in not keeping up with it, either. And they needed a sacrifical lamb. Baa, baa, baa ...

The students, bless their hearts, where in the process of planning a petition to have me re-instated. It was clear to all that I was the "real deal." I could do everything I taught. I could climb up in the attic space with you and watch how you make wire junctions. Teach you and get you to think about how to plan the path of the circuit. And the little tricks along the way.

Another case still gives me goose bumps. A student named George. All of his 17 years, people were calling him stupid. And he kind of believed them. So, he would concentrate on his MMA skills, thinking that was going to be his ticket out of poverty and dejection and rejection. In regular school, his grades were poor. First time I gave a lecture, I spotted his problem immediately. Through the first pass of information, he listened. Then, after that, his face turned off, for lack of a better description. His mind went somewhere else.

After class, he had stayed behind, wanting to know what was next. Which confirmed my suspicions. "I know what your problem is, George."


"Your mind operates faster than most people give you credit for. Faster than most people around you. Let me guess, people call you stupid."

I could literally see the change in his demeanor, his face. A light came on.

The reason he got bored is because he got the concept the first time. Anything after that was boring repetition. And he had that skill in the physical part of the job, too.

"Do you think I can learn this stuff? How fast can I learn this?"

"How fast do you want to go? I can take the foot of the brake and get out of second gear. It is always up to you. You are the only one who will ever hold you back. Not the people who insult you or devalue you. Regardless of who they are, it's all just words, opinion. You hold yourself back when you believe them, instead of in yourself.

So, step up to the plate and aim for the parking lot."

Turns out he was a math whiz and he didn't realize it. He was stumbling on fractions, especially reciprocals. Finally, he came upon the word "inverted." Rather than stand on ceremony and assert my position as "instructor," I said, "uh, yeah, invert it."

Another light bulb. He asked for more work. Ran off to the dorms. Practiced all evening and had it down cold.

He came in the next day ready for the test on reciprocals (electrical involves a solid basis in math.) And aced it. And that's not me handing out a good job. My tests usually involved 10 questions, no more than 20. No grading curve. Either you get the question right or you get it wrong. On a 10 question test, you can only afford to miss 3. (70% is passing.) He made 100 %. Didn't even break a sweat.

I watched him take apart a 3-phase motor starter and put it back together, perfectly. There are working electricians who can't do that.

He walked taller, dressed appropriately instead of gansta-style. Started speaking properly, something he knew how to do all along. And has gone on to college and better things, leaving behind the thug life. Because someone took the time to 'step off the podium" and really pay attention to him. I failed as an instructor in the program, I failed to do what was needed for the private contractor who paid me. But I taught electrical work to people who were capable of competent, job-worthy production and skill. And the success and future college and careers of George, Garion, Maribelle (that young lady ran 60 feet of pipe in a tight attic in one hour. Sheesh!) Jewels beyond price that I will take to my grave.

Can any of that apply to teaching of singing? Are there some basic skills and production of sound in singing, just as there are some basic skills and ability that you need in a hard trade?

And what do you need in a teacher? Is it the same thing as what you want? A great teacher that could really help you may not want to concentrate on what you want. And it's okay for a teacher to reject a student by some criteria.

Let me pretend to be a teacher of singing for just a moment, my limited understanding and amateur status aside. I do not like screamo. I don't know how to teach it, don't want to know how to teach it, don't want to hear it from a student. And if a student came along wanting to learn it, I would, indeed, politely show them the door and a parting "auf wiedersehen," "Adios, Amigo, y vaya con Dio." "So long, and good luck."

And that might make me provincial in attitude. So be it, I am flawed. And maybe less successful money-wise, for having the standard that I do, such as it is.

Nor would I spend much, if any time, on teaching distorted sounds. I can't do much of it, and have not been that interested in doing much of it and I think, it is a matter of spice or accent, not the main point of singing. That being said, I admire singers with rasp and often, it is a natural effect of their voice, not something they specifically train, at least in my opinion. For example, listen to Brian Johnson speak. I know we don't sing like we speak, but I think elements of the basic tone of voice are there. He is gravelly in speach, gravelly in singing.

Is there something we can agree on as far as basic production of sound? And what do you need in a teacher for that?

And what is the definition of teacher? We approached that once or twice, I think. A teacher teaches the basics of singing, a coach teaches a style. A singing teacher would teach you how to sing clearly and strongly. A coach would teach you how to sing rock, or blues, for example.

I think there are rare examples, like Lunte, who can both teach and coach.First, he will teach you how to sing properly. Then how to add the "edge" for whatever genre you are pursuing. And true, he might have some sound ideal, but I think all teachers do. There is a teacher of another singing program who always seems to add some rasp to his students' production. For he has a great rasp and it's what he knows. Then Lunte's program has distortion available, as an added effect, not as a basic element of sound production.

Then there are other programs that start with the speaking voice as a basis. And those can be valuable, at least as far as pitch control goes (which is number one in my book of importance. And I know, I have put up pitchy submissions. And keep them as reminders to watch it.) No, it doesn't mean I have perfect pitch. I think I have relative pitch but it is the focus of my concern.

Do you need a teacher who is "nice"? I know I may seem to be a softie, maybe too nice, even as a reviewer of others' singing. But I have seen a few videos of other singing teachers out there who put me to shame in the nice field.

And I haven't always been nice. Even in this forum, I look back at some of my old posts and see where I was obnoxious, abrasive, reactionary, sarcastic, and, at times, my sense of humor totally translate wrong in the written word. I nearly got banned because my behavior was scaring others away.

And in my career field, co-workers and I rip each other to shreds all day long. In fact, once we find out you have some "feelings," we help you get rid of those, and not always in a gentle manner.

So, the kinder, gentler ronws that you now know is a maturation on my part, fitting into here in order to participate in this wonderful place that our benefactor has provided for us.

As a teacher, should I hold back? As a teacher of electrical trades, non-linear jumps of insight are more important than rote memorization or mindless repetition. But, in either venture, active concentration is key.

Can a teacher teach you that? Can we all hope for a student like George? And I am straying, I think.

We need a teacher who is supportive yet firm. Help the student keep the eye on the prize.

How can the student prepare to be taught? A critique of a sound is just that. A comment on the sound you made, not your worth as a person.Just the same, is it upon the teacher to lead the student and help them to quit stepping on their own feet?

Felipe said at least once that if a student cannot accept a criticism (meaning the noticing of something worng) and be willing to do something to change it, perhaps they should find something else to do. However delicately or indelicately that can be phrased, it is true. And it took Tommy's allegory of fighter training for me to see it, of all things.

Is it possible as a teacher to not allow a wrong thing but express the correction in a way that leads the student, rather than runs them off? For me, doing electrical work and teaching it are two different sets of skills.

And how does the teacher have patience for the beginner who thinks they are ready for the big time? One job I was on had a helper who didn't do much of anything. After the few first weeks of his first exposure to the trade, he thought he could tell me how the pipe was run in the building (most of which I did, myself, so I knew he was wrong.) And then he said he was ready to "get a few helpers and be in charge of something." Only then did I start to laugh. Was that rude of me?

Singing is so personal. We are the instrument. And you cannot re-string this instrument. You can't change the pots or re-wind the coils in the pick-ups. You have to work with it, as it is. In that case, it is an athletic endeavor. In his book, "Diary of a Bodybuilder," Arnold Scharzenegger totally admits that part of his success was genetic structure. Yes, there are the years and decades of hard work that anyone will have to do. That is not in question and no person is going to walk in off the street and win.You could follow the workout and diet plan of Arnold, all of which was in the book and he tells you, honestly, you will never look like him. You might look fine, otherwise. He has no problem owing his success as the only person to win Mr Universe 7 times in a row that of hard work and genetic gift. And it's not arrogance. Just being honest.

Should a teacher expect everyone to be Arnold, so to speak? Or help others to train to whatever level they are capable of? You could and should train like Arnold, never doubt that. What if you become the next Mr Universe? It won't be the same criteria that he won, then, since it was based on a structure unmatched by others. Which means the criteria has changed, something beyond your control.

You could train forever and you will never sound like Pavarotti, for example. He did have a unique structure. Does it mean that you have failed if you do not sound like him? He was also raised speaking italian and I will catch heat for this, I am sure, but I think that italian lends itself more readily to singing some things than other languages. Because try as they might, many cannot get away from singing like they speak. And it's easier if your speaking is already "singing." Case in point, we often talk about singing the vowels in the italian sound ideal for a vowel modification.

Should a teacher expect that (Pavarotti sound) of you and if you fail, you are deficient, untrainable, a waste of time?

Are my views on what is necessary in teaching based on my experiences as a teacher?


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Ron - In a simplified sense, to me, a teacher should be able to advance the student from their current level the to a higher level. The student should establish goals, and the teacher should be able to help the student acheive those goals, or at the very least, advance the student closer to his/her goals. In singing, teaching the student to sing like Pavorotti would be kind of sensless. If the student wants to learn how to sing opera, they should pick a teacher that can teach that genre. If they want to sing Rock, they may need to pick a different teacher. When I was growing up (before skype) I wanted to sing rock, but the only teachers I could find taught bel canto operatic or classical. So that's what I learned. But none of those classical teachers wanted me to sound like Pavorotti.

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Thanks for replying, Geno. Pavarotti was an example, not meant to mean that classical teachers want their students to sound like Pavarotti.

What if the student's goals are not realistic?

Here's a hypothetical for which no one, to date, has given me an answer. Let's say that someone has a voice in the range of Steve Perry. And wants to sing bass. Is that going to happen? Is it possible? Why doesn't Steve sing bass?

I know, we're getting dangerously close to fach and voice type. Sorry about that. What about a tenor wanting to sing baritone stuff and just not making it (I am not referring to myself though I have been guilty of that, as well.) And I apologize for the use of fach descriptions but there didn't seem another way, to me, to talk about range limitations in voices. Is the teacher being rude or not helpful if they advise the student to not do that, or at least, try to follow another direction? After all, the teacher is now not helping the student to his goal, which is to sing just like singer "whomever."

"I want to sound like Steven Tyler." Well, first, it helps to be of italian ancestry. Couldn't hurt to grow up in New Hampshire. Then, you need to grow up listening to your father playing a piano. And then meet a guy who's guitar never stays in tune, enough to drive you batty.

"I want to sound like Robert Plant." Well, you need to be middle-class and from the midlands of England. It also helps if you approach everything from a jazz perspective. Then, there is his awesome command of breath support (thanks to concert footage of him with open shirt, so that you can physically see what is happening.)

"I want to sound like Bon Scott." Well, it would help if you were born in a tiny village in Scotland and moved to Australia. And gained the nickname "Bon" because you came from the "bonnie hills of Scotland," (near the speyside region, I think.) Then start on the drums. And not have any singing lessons. And spend your first years in performing unsuccessfully trying to copy the motown sound. And meet up with some brothers who have overdriven tube amps and an unflinching live for the blues pentatonic scale. (Bon Scott had a limited range, smaller than mine, even.) It also helps if you have taste for Scotch, a factor in many of his performances and the sound of his voice.

So, to an extent, maybe it is right for a teacher to expect good singing. Whatever you do with it on your own is up to you.

So, I'm split between the teacher following the student's wishes and that which is good for the student, whether they see the value in it, at the time, or not. And that goes for myself, as well.

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A teacher should:

- Know how to make every sound that are common in popular music genres. I don't trust a teacher who doesn't sing well or make the sounds I want to create with my voice. That's why I choose a teacher educated from CVI (CVT).

- Not have an ideal sound. Dampening or raising the larynx, vowel modification, effects, vibrato and so on. Absolutely none what so ever. A teacher should teach you how to sound like YOU want to. A teacher should only criticize a student when he is:

A: Not singing in a healthy manner, and B: pronouncing and articulating badly without hearing it. Not small vowel modifications which ofc are fine, but for instance not articulating consonants enough so that it's hard to hear what the words are when there is no reason to sound sloppy.

- Have good knowledge of anatomy in singing and using that knowledge to teach students how to sing better, but only if necessary. My impression is that it's better to learn to sing without knowing to much about what is going on. It's easy to be over-thinking when you are are familiar with singing as a very complicated and complex process. I think seeking sensations are the best way to learn how to sing, but if that doesn't cut it, a more scientific approach may be the solution.

- Be supportive and try to make you confident as a singer and performer. Being confident and "free" is, in my opinion, absolutely critical in order to sing well.

- Stay updated on new techniques and vocal science.

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Excellent reply, Wall, and I am close to you in spirit. Just as my students relished having a teacher who actually had a history of doing electrical work, not just reading about it in a book. Or teaching a program written by a soldier who's expertise was weapons, rather than electrical work. Supervised by someone who counted push-ups and jumping jacks.

Personally, I get lost in all the technical definitions we see around here. I like simplicity. Maybe it's because my job is complex and I need singing to be simple, for me. For example, I quickly get out of my league talking about formant tuning. But, if i simplify to "follow the resonance," I'm okay. Singers don't need to know all the anatomy and science will bog them down. Such was the belief of Manuel Garcia, the younger. He invented the first laryngoscope only to confirm his thoughts on phonation but he did not burden his students with it.

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I would look for the quality of the results, is this something I want for me? Yes or no? Yes, cool, lets meet and know the person, does the line of work sounds good, does the person inspires trust? Yes? Cool down to trainning.

As a teacher, I try to keep it in these lines. I ask that specifically, if the quality of the results Im showing is something that the person wants. If the talk goes into the direction of sounding like XXXX. My answer is simply No, cant be done, what can be done is this and that. Is it acceptable? Yes or no?

To sound Like Steve Perry you have to do what he did, control his voice, without trying to sound like others, just applying technique that he studied from a very early stage in order to sing professionaly. And then, after you have a strong voice of your own, you can look into the interpretation line and use what you want, if you still want of course.

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I am not a teacher. To be honest I have a trouble with authority. If someone tells me to do something just because he says to do it, more likely than not I will turn away and leave.

But if someone tells me to do something and gives a reason behind it, Then I will do as he says if I agree on the desired outcome.

There are basics to singing. Support, Resonance, posture, Tone. I 'm sure there are more. But they are basic concepts.

As for teaching "The concepts" in my opinion are what need to be taught. The rest is training and toning.

When I first joined there was a thread "Do we learn to sing or do we train to sing". I took the stance that we learn to sing. Most others insisted that we train to sing. I still stand by my thought that we learn to sing.

Each one of us has the story of either a break at passaggio or the story of having a bad teacher that taught us nothing we found usable for years. Some of those either struck out on their own to find answers that worked or found a really good teacher to help them. Regardless of wich once they LEARNED the concept of "Support" or LEARNED the concept of "Bridging" or LEARNED the concept of "Resonance Tracking"....... then their training started to take off.

Yes these are all part of the puzzle and the learning and training should never stop. Each one can lead to other problems that need to be corrected. But it will lead to another concept that needs to be learned and then we can train with that next concept in mind.

The path will not be the same for all individuals but the concepts are universal.

After saying all that what would you expect from a teacher? Some one who can teach you the concepts, The reasoning behind them, and a method for training them.

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Sensations and imitations are for me the best tools when singing. Trying to set your brain to control nearly every muscle in full consciousness will probably just end up giving you a lot of constrictions and tension because you don't have the capacity to have so many thoughts at once. The result is that some thing gets too much attention and some things gets too little or nothing at all. I'm not saying that you have to use all your complicated knowledge about the process of singing when singing, but often, that's what many of us do, including myself. So I've had to simplify my perspective and methods and that made me a better singer.

I've met some metal and rock- vocalist and I've had the chance to ask them how they learned to sing. I've also seen interviews where that question is covered. What about 90% said was that nobody taught them how to sing. There weren't many voice teachers who knew how to sing like they wanted to. So they had to figure it out on their own. What they did was imitating their idols. Feeling the sensations while imitating. The closer they got to the the perfect imitation, the better the sensation, which often means healthier. Most of their idols must have had nice, healthy vocal technique because it's very hard becoming a person well known for vocal abilities without it.

But why does so many singers fail when they are learning to sing just by hearing and imitating professionals?

An 80's rock singer named Tony Harnell (TNT) said something that I believe is true. He said that most of us are not really listening closely enough. We have to really pay attention to all the details in the sound/phonation to be able to master it ourself. Often people just sing a long trying to sing with perfect pitch and some sort of nice tone, but doesn't hit that perfect amount of twang, support and larynx-position which we all can hear if we only pay a little attention and concentrates. If you never experience that sensation, you will never truly know what you are missing.

For example, many aspiring singers think they have nice technique, but they don't understand why they get hoarse after 30 minutes of singing. They go to the doctor but nothing seems to be wrong. What's wrong? They probably don't know how pleasant singing should feel and how good it should sound. They may be doing something right but it's obviously not good enough. Maybe there is just a low level of breath support. Just enough to sing 30 minutes with a decent tone quality without getting hoarse. But too much air is coming through (may be hard to hear and twang can be used as camouflage), so the inevitable happens. They get hoarse. If they listened more closely to the professional singers and imitated more strictly they could have felt the sensation while singing. And when you find the sensation, you'll always try to find it when singing later on. After a while it will come automatically.

Sensations in singing often happens when we are supporting correctly. Finding the balance. Great tone, range, vibrato, effects... things that easily can be heard when listening and paying attention are very much affected by support.

This post became sort of a digression from the original question in this thread, but It's kind of relevant, though.

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Ron - The student should have goals, and then the teacher should be honest about his ability to advance the student along those goals. If not, the teacher should take a pass. If a student said "I want to sing like Steve Perry" and the teacher was teaching impersonation skills, the teacher might say, "sure, I'll teach you how to come as close as you can get to the Steve Perry sound". But most teachers would probably say, "I can teach you how to use your voice more effectively, but I cannot teach you how to sing like Steve Perry."

However - I don't think it's right for a teacher to say "You're a bass, and you'll never be able to sing like Steve Perry, so you better consider something else". In my opinion the teacher should NOT tell the student that his goals are bad - they should only tell the student whether or not he/she can help the student acheive those goals.

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The problem many teachers do is not advocating mimicry and the student should sing with "his own voice" as ive said in other threads. We dont have an "own" sound the voices we use today is puré mimicry... Speaking and singing is something we have learned through mimicry.

Bet many of you have got the "sounds just like your father..." ofc this vary due to not Everyone is copying their father as à Child, but also other persons.

You can learn how to sound like Steve Perry, like dio, ect

It Will take crazy dedication and focus wich very few have, but the physical factor is not what limits most of us(there are people born with vocal anomalies)


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Jens - Exactly. That's why I don't think it is up to anyone to tell another student of voice they can't do something. Comic impersonators have made careers out of mimicing all kinds of voices - and they can get damn close. And these impersonators were not born some special voices. If someone has a goal, I say go for it. I've had enough people in my life telling me I couldn't do something. It makes me want to do it more to prove they are wrong.

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Some of the points to look for in mimicing a voice is facial expressions ,mannerisms and posture. Some may say that this does not have anything to do with the voice but it does. There is such thing as anchoring. Try making a Jack Nicolson voice without raising the eyebrows and smiling in that maniacle way that he does. Not only that but look at the way Dio moves and his facial expressions when he sings. You will have a better chance of getting his tone if you copy everything. No I am not saying you will automaticly be a better singer by doing this. Just that you have a better chance of his getting tone.

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I would look for the quality of the results, is this something I want for me? Yes or no? Yes, cool, lets meet and know the person, does the line of work sounds good, does the person inspires trust? Yes? Cool down to trainning.

As a teacher, I try to keep it in these lines. I ask that specifically, if the quality of the results Im showing is something that the person wants. If the talk goes into the direction of sounding like XXXX. My answer is simply No, cant be done, what can be done is this and that. Is it acceptable? Yes or no?

To sound Like Steve Perry you have to do what he did, control his voice, without trying to sound like others, just applying technique that he studied from a very early stage in order to sing professionaly. And then, after you have a strong voice of your own, you can look into the interpretation line and use what you want, if you still want of course.

Believe it or not, Felipe, I agree with yours, most of all. Though I see the value in having a teacher wanting to help you reach your goals, the goals must be reasonable. A classical coach who was helping me wanted and still wants me to kind of steer away from the "rock singer" thing. He was helping me mainly with breath support and it was phenomenal. He said, in so many words, don't be a rock singer or country singer or pop singer. Just be a singer. Your own voice can teach you something if you will just listen.

So, no, he's not going to help me sing Led Zep. In fact, he normally doesn't talk to rock singers, even to give the time of day (it's 7:55 am CST, just now, for giggles.) But his wisdom was welcome and needed. And if I was seeking a live coach and had the means to do it, I would probably seek one like Robert Lunte or even you, Felipe. Because both of you have the perspective of: here is your unique instrument. And I will help you to use it correctly, with longetivity and ease of use. With the ear on the beautiful sound. Which requires me, at times, to re-think my goal or, at times more specifically, what material I should sing.

It's okay to like someone and their songs and not sing them for one's self. Geoff Tate and Brian Johnson are friends in real life. And someone asked Geoff if he could sing like Brian. Geoff said, "The proper question is, would I want to? And the answer is no. And Brian and I have talked with each other about this very thing."

That's the tough part, the push and pull. I want to sing this song. The teacher says "no, it is not good for your voice, in particular. You should sing this instead."

Do I show off my "stubborn as a mule" personality or listen to the wisdom? Sometimes, some of us do need our butt kicked, figuratively. Even me, sometimes.

And in training, should we stay in our strong zone? Sort of like the beginning of weight training and bodybuilding. I used to butterfly 110 lb free weight, 135 on machines. But every manual on weightlifting starts out with the basics. Start out with a lighter weight and concentrate on your form, before using heavier weight. You have to learn the right habit first, to prevent injury or bad form later on.

Even talent and a naturally beautiful voice take training to make consistent and managable. Patricia Andsrejewski was handpicked out of a school choir and groomed to be an opera singer and trained as one all through and including high school. Not really light enough to be coloratura but a solid soprano, regardless. And was set to audition and enter Julliard. But she was in love and instead married Sgt. Benatar, US Army and ran off with him. She was now Pat Benatar, singing in singing restaurants and small jazz reviews wherever she could. Even though she slightly changed the edge of her sound, she continued to rely upon the training she received 2 to 3 hours a day, 5 days a week throughout her career. But things didn't gell until she met Neil Giraldo. The rest is history.

And it may not take another singer that same amount of time and work. It might take less, more likely will take more. That's just the path that she took. But her teacher accepted no laziness. And conserved her student's voice. There was no singing on days when Patricia suffered a cold. Go home, drink water, sleep. There is always another day. This singing through a cold thing can build bad habits, at least in my layman's opinion.

What Felipe had to say was kind of where I was going. Being a singer and having the wisdom can be 2 different things. Call it my upbringing but just because you want something does not mean you should have it.

Personally, I could have some value from a strong instructor against whom I could butt my head and find my limits. Other times, the stern limits are boundaries for me to surpass. But I personally think it's important for the teacher to have wisdom where the student doesn't.

And then, there is the goal of the teacher. A number of teachers are willing to help any one, even those who plan to go no farther than the local karaoke bar or get through "America the Beautiful" at a church function without cracking the high note. Then there are teachers who pride themselves on teaching others to be pro. Those with amateur goals need not apply. In that case, those who just want to sing some songs around a campfire would be wasting that teacher's time. Shoot, a rock singer could waste a classical coach's time. :lol:

The flip side of my view is part of my "figure it out for yourself" quest, which is how I was raised. No lessons for me. No new equipment for me. For my brother, there was access to the grandparent's piano. Piano lessons from a real teacher. One time, we bought a used piano for my brother but it fell out of the truck on the way home and was heart-breaking for us all. Later in high school, a new clarinet and music classes. Later, marching band (and that takes some skill. Anyone here want to imagine the control it takes to blow a wind instrument while goose-stepping across a field?)

The first new guitar I had, I bought, with all of my lawn mowing money. My grandparents had promised me a new guitar and amp if I had at least 3 b's and maybe a few a's. I brought him 5 b's, 1 a. Nothing.

So, when I was 18, I was able to take every penny I had saved and got a Memphis Les Paul Copy (standard) and a Marlboro 132 A practice amp and an MXR 10 - band graphic equalizer. And working at a grocery store helped me make the money to fix up the '68 Mustang my grandparents had given to me in an undrivable condition.

As for learning all the electrical stuff, my step-grandfather didn't really teach me. He gave me the books to read. And also, a high school level primer on Einstein's Theories of Relativity. (Later, I would prove Einstein wrong but that's a whole 'nother story for another forum.) :lol:

I'm writing too much, sorry. I'm still trying to figure out my singing in the grand scheme of things.

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Bet many of you have got the "sounds just like your father..." ofc this vary due to not Everyone is copying their father as à Child, but also other persons.

I sound like my mother. :)

Speach, choice of words, biting sarcasm, etc. My voice is pitched somewhat like hers. It might be partially due to upbringing, especially the phrasing and use of language. But I think some of the voice comes from genetics.

And no, I am not saying that a bass or baritone cannot sing tenor-range stuff. There are numerous examples here, including you, Geno, who are baritones that can sing most of my range, for example. It's awesome, really. And I think it's testament to good singing prorams and teachers challenging you and leading the way. And part of it was giving up what you thought you knew about singing from before, I imagine, though I could be putting words in your mouth.

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Well I don't know if I was ever a baritone. I'm finally able to sing A2 through D3 with power - really couldn't prior to a month ago. When I was young I had a crappy low range - always did. It was much easier for me to learn to sing up to C6 than down to A2. I submitted a performance of mine of an operatic Aria to Steven Frasier and he thought the weight of my voice was lighter than Pavorotti and Bergonzi, so I don't know what the hell to think about my fach.

I met a professional opera singer (tenor) at the Gino Vannelli master classes and he said typically Tenors have shorter necks - the longer the neck, the longer the potential vocal tract, and obviously the lower the potential resonance.

However, there are the examples like Bergonzi - fantastic tenor voice - really beautiful. He changed from Baritone to Tenor halfway through his career. So it definitely can be done.

And what about all the comic impersonators? These guys can shade and color their vowels to match the people they are impersonating. There is nothing genetic about their voices. They have learned to control everything so well.

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I told myself I was going to shut up and let others do the talking. But I wanted to highlight a bit of wisdom from Felipe in another thread (one of the two adulating Bruno Mars.)

It is okay to use such tones as falsetto and other effects of whatever your voice can manage in pop music. Even if the song is outside your easiest range. And therefore, fach doesn't mean as much, per se, in pop music. Granted, that view is also from the perspective of classical, I think.

In classical, in general, is there a sense of "you can't use these descriptions because they are for opera and not for use by anyone else." So, I think there is nothing wrong with coming up with range descriptions and texture descriptions to help describe pop singing, other than it may include more of the dynamic range than opera will allow. In my limited understanding, in opera, if you are the musical director casting people for the roles and you happen across a true basso profundo, you are going to cast him as such. And he will sing the bass role, even if, off stage and goofing around, he can actually sing a C5. You hired him to sing the bass role and that is what he is going to do, if he wants to get paid. And wants to get more work. Being known as a problem for a director does not help one's career, at least in the beginning.

If one of the roles requires a C5 that can rattle the chandelier, likely it will go to an actual tenor, someone who can sing that note as many times as the role requires.

But here's a difference I see between opera and everything else. You, the singer, are to conform to a standard. Even if that is just the consensus of how a composer's work is to be interpreted. For example, I think, and probably could get agreement that the role of the father spector in "Don Giovanni" by Mozart should be a dramatic baritone, to carry the weight of oppressiveness inherent in the role. The father is overbearing and imposing, even in death. At least, if I was director, that is how I would cast it. I want someone who can rattle the beams of the building between c2 and d4. Which means a tenor leggiero need not apply.

What I am getting at is this. If you aim to sing pop and rock, then are you best served with a coach that expects you to comform to the ideals of opera? Or do you need a teacher who can help you conserve your voice and have longetivity in rock and pop? It used to be and still is, something of a standard that a pop or rock career, at it's height, rarely lasts more than 5 years. Bands like Led Zeppelin are freaks of nature, enjoying a 12 year run of the original members. But the Rolling Stones are still on tour (and probably will be forever.) But they don't have the original members, least of all, the founding member, Brian Jones.

Because, I think, pop music teachers are probably going to approach from a different perspective. Especially if they can divorce themselves from their own voice. For example, you want to sing like Bruno Mars? Are you best helped by a baritone classical singer who concentrates almost exclusively on "chest voice"? Let's say you want to sing like Aaron Neville? His tone sounded mostly like headtone, to me, with some of it being falsetto. Then you need a teacher that will teach you those things. So, then, the student really has to research and see who is available in their area. And it may be slim pickin's. What if the only thing you have locally is a choir director who thinks all males should be baritone because he is. That really, no man can sing high and all the high parts should be female soprano? (people like that really do exist.)

It's only in the past decade that we have had programs like 4 Pillars and CVT and KYVA And RYV come forward to offer instruction in how to sing rock and pop, how to expand outside the classical fach.

So, if someone comes to this forum and the advice (wise as it is) is to get a coach and some training, they really need some direction a little more descriptive than that. To borrow Tommy's phrase, "train how you will fight." Which also means finding a program that uses perspectives that make sense to you.Some programs compartmentalize everything and for some people, that is exactly what they need. An assembly of widgets that can be adjusted to and fro.

Others need something inclusive. When I was teaching, we would have meetings with principal in charge of the academic classes like reading, writing, and math, apart from us hard trade instructors. And he highlighted that different people learn in different ways. Some are visual, some are auditory, some are verbal. Some people can learn better if they see the thing involved. Some do better if they can hear about it. Some do better with written, technical descriptions and graphs, etc.

I realize we are getting into learning and teaching theory but I would expect someone who plans to teach something to have some knowledge of this. Sure, as a teacher, one could expect that any student will simply have to adapt to your method or they are out. And that is why a large number of students are failing, aside from lower expectations. They are often being taught with the wrong method to suit them.

Some students do better with the precise technical definitions, some do better with the "wax on, wax off" means of instruction. (I know, some people may not know of the movie, "The Karate Kid," (the original with Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi.))

Mssr LeBeau was, I think, correct in that other thread that many male singers do not receive instruction at all, outside of how to blend in a choir. And, until recent times, not many resources to work on their voice outside the world of classical singing. But just because we now have Robert Lunte, Ken Tamplin, Jaime Vendera, Kevin Richards, et al, doesn't mean we have one on every corner. Or, a teacher certified by whichever system to teach that stuff locally.

And yes, we have skype. And not a lot of people are going to have the money for weekly sessions. And I don't think that being relatively broke or not able to afford weekly sessions or even travel expenses and then lessons makes you less serious a singer or singing student. And I think it's okay for a teacher to charge whatever they wish for a lesson. And that not a lot of people are going to have money for endless personal lessons.

So, for most people here and, I think, elsewhere, the next best thing is going to be a singing program. And they will need, at times, confirmation of an understanding, or at least discussion of a concept. And if someone is working on twang and M2, I am not going to judge them by classical baritone standards with a cuperto configuration.

Since I am not a teacher from any particular perspective in singing, let alone just a teacher of singing, in general, I am not going to say "your mouth was too wide or open" from a cuperto standpoint. If the note was on pitch and it worked for his voice and it worked for the song, then, so be it. Was it within the sound ideal of maybe Manuel Garcia II? Probably not. What are we going to define as beautiful singing in order to find a teacher that suits us? Steven Tyler does not have a pretty voice. And I like his singing. I have never liked Bruce Springsteen's voice but there are plenty who disagree with me. And there are some of his songs that I could imagine no one else besides Bruce singing.

Bono said not too long ago that he wishes he had not used so much falsetto, even if it meant singing lower. But I liked what he did, nevertheless.

And a classical teacher, if he even allowed them into his studio, would have outright rejected the "quality" of these men's voices.

Some singers have changed over time, probably due to some instruction later in life. Geddy Lee sings with a lower larynx, now. And live, some of the songs have been stepped down.

Jon Bon Jovi is singing way cleaner these days, with more head tone present and not always going for the highest note. Of course, they have advantages we don't have. More money, more mobility, they can get just about whatever coach they want with a phone call.

Some are provided for them. Roger Love received a call from a record company to provide coaching for a rising star. "Can he sing?"

"Not really, but he can snarl and growl."

"Can he play an instrument?"

"Not a single one."

"Does he write songs, even for his own voice?"


"What can he do?"

"Well, he looks good and dresses fashionably for the times."

"Okay, What's his name?"

"His stage name is Billy Idol."

Ba-doomp, tsh !!! (my phonetic attempt at a drum rim shot.)

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The thing is alot of the people I have met here on the forum think there is some secret exercise that some new teacher or coach has. There is no secret. That is the secret. This is not rocket science it's "basically" an extension of your speech. Take the time to break it down slowly and you will see great gains. But if you are in a rush and it's not happening quick enough for you it's gonna take twice as long.:)

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Owen you can keep searching and fixating on the new terms and schools, secrets etc. And there will be plenty more coming in the future I'm sure. Hell. I might even write a book and work some terms in there.:D But the bottom line is at the end of the day can you sing as well you want to with all of this vast info and secrets? :cool:

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The thing is alot of the people I have met here on the forum think there is some secret exercise that some new teacher or coach has. There is no secret.

But there is a secret. And I have it.

A contract with Satan to have the "folds of destiny."

:lol: :cool:

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