What does it help to know about me before the first lesson?
Some first timers don’t share anything before their first lesson. This is totally fine. If you want to share more though, please do! A few starting points would be to send in your story with singing so far, what your wish is for your singing and any obstacles you’ve run into along the way. You can also optionally send in an audio recording. Lastly, what's bringing you to singing and lessons?
What supplies do I need for lessons?
- 1Something to record with (smart device is fine)
- 2A copy of your song (if we’ve chosen one) with lyrics and chords (sheet music is best, I can help you get that)
- 3Any audio recordings of yourself singing you might want to share (totally optional, but highly recommended for getting more precise answers to your singing questions 🙂
The Bare Minimum for Online:
1. Song lyrics and/or sheet music of your songs for auditions or practice
2. A microphone so I can hear your voice*
3. A speaker so you can hear my voice*
4. A webcam*
5. A second device in addition to the one you’re using for webcam
6. Fast internet connection
7. Song tracks downloaded/ready to go
8. Download the Zoom app for computer, iPad, etc.
9.Make sure you have tested all of your connections before we start the lesson.
All the bells and whistles:
Even just doing ONE of these things can often make a big difference!
All of the bare-minimum list PLUS:
Send PDF and/or Google Doc of your song lyrics, chord sheet and/or sheet music
Connect your computer to an ethernet cable (there is no better connection than that)
Anyone else on your internet? See how much they are willing to dial down the internet use during your lesson.
Adjust your zoom audio settings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQMFIkwRQUU
Get a solid mic for better audio (currently researching options)
Turn off dishwasher, AC, other noise-makers.
If you have google drive set up, I send audio recordings through that, so you can get that set up on your phone and other devices.
How do I get started with the first lesson? Do we communicate in some way first or do I just sign up?
You can sign up right away, email or text any questions you might have or (most common) sign up and ask questions before your first lesson.
Do you teach kids?
The minimum age for voice lessons in my studio is 11, occasionally I make exceptions for 10 year olds. Kids under that age are undergoing certain developmental stages that can make it uncomfortable for them to pay attention to/change their breathing, among other things. My best results have been with and I've found my heart called towards pre-teens, teens and adults so I stick to that for the most part.
Can kids under that age have success with voice lessons? Absolutely! You want to find a teacher who has some qualifications that would make them well aware of how to tailor lessons to younger kids, or a really good amount of experience/instinct for teaching kids. These qualifications could be Kodaly Method, KinderMusik, Elementary Education degrees and the like. I would also sit in on the first couple of lessons to comfort your child (young kids tend to not like being alone in a room with an adult when they first start lessons).
I'm (insert your age here) years old, am I too old to learn how to sing?
You are never too old to sing! In my experience, singing from ages 20 on up remains about the same as far as challenge level goes. A lot of people believe that age has a much stronger factor in singing than it actually does. In fact in the singing world it's commonly believed that a singers really reaches their vocal "peak" in their 30s. I don't have studies to back this up though, but my experience makes it seem plausible. The more essential types of influences I've seen with my singing students are tension habits, breathing habits and body awareness, among other things. Age is fairly far down the list. As an example a beginning singer in her 70's with good breathing and vocal habits may have an easier time than a beginning singer in her teens who tends to hold tension in areas that interfere with singing.
I'm a complete beginner. My goal is to learn how to carry a tune or two and possibly have a new hobby to work on. I have no idea what my range is or what I'm suppose to do as a singer. Am I too much of a novice for your line of work?
You're definitely not too much of a novice to take voice lessons! You don't need any background in music or singing whatsoever, in fact absolute beginners are some of my favorite students to teach 🙂 There are a lot of myths from lack of scientific information (among some other things) when it comes to singing, so I try to clear this up in some of my youtube videos, blogs, and Quora answers. Check out the blog for more, better yet subscribe!
What styles do you teach?
I don't teach a genre, rather I break down any particular sound into exact movements within your mouth and throat. So you can sing whatever genre you want in lessons, but more importantly, you know how and why you are able to sound like a particular genre. So you have complete freedom as an artist and singer to design your own style or learn a particular one.
You can start voice lessons with me in any genre you like, I will get to know your singing aspirations so that you sound more like how YOU want to sound. Students most often are interested in singing pop, musical theater, classical, folk, country and rock.
What is a first lesson typically like?
This answer will be a HUGE generalization, because I improvise/adapt to what someone needs on the spot based on their goals, their skill level, their level of nervousness, their experience level, age, etc. In addition, I sometimes get really specific requests like "I don't want to learn how to sing but I want the benefits of easier breathing". Stuff like that. So keep that in mind as I describe how a lesson will go.
Typically, I'll ask you about your history with singing, your interests, goals, musical tastes, etc. I'll listen to your speaking voice on one or more vowels, connect that to a pitch on the piano and have you sing (depending on whether you know how to match pitch or not) up and down some scales. Then we'll map your Vocal Comfort Zone.
At that point, if you have a song that you've sung recently and if you feel comfortable enough to sing it (first time singers are sometimes way too terrified...that's completely okay, we'll get there as you feel comfortable/ready in future lessons) then I'll have a listen.
From there, we'll get to know your vocal habits with singing and possible exercises (depending how much time we have and what questions you might have) to either clearly sense how you're using your body when you sing and/or how to do something different that feels better and move more towards the sounds you're looking for.
What if I sound horrible when I sing? Will you tell me I'm a terrible singer and that I should give up?
I absolutely will not tell you that. Not only is that completely unhelpful, it's also emotionally abusive. Although Simon Cowell made it popular to harshly judge singers without ever describing the skills they would need to learn to get better, it is NEVER necessary to label a sound or a singer as bad in a voice lesson.
Every sound you hear in your voice is a direct result of a either a movement, tension, or lack of movement inside your body. If you don't like a sound, you don't like a sound. No big deal. It doesn't mean anything about you as a singer, it doesn't mean you have a "bad voice" and there are no bad sounds, just intentional sounds and non-intentional sounds produced in a comfortable or uncomfortable way. You just figure out how you are making the sound and what you would need to change it. That's what we focus on in lessons. In addition, we'll also cover other exercises that helps you connect with the part of your brain that helps you learn how to sing, rather than only paying attention to the judgmental part of your brain that sabotages your efforts through harsh self-judgements. I will point out what skill you'll want to build to move towards a sound that you'd like. I really liked one my students reviews that it put it this way:
Do you teach how to read music?
I do! I teach both how to read music for singing (also known as Sight-Singing) and how to read music for playing your sung notes on the piano.
Questions? Contact Me At:
Chris [at] synergisticsinging [dot] com
13552 US 183 STE A Austin, TX 78750Voice Lessons also Available Online,in Downtown Austin. Ask for details.