Article Written By Elaina Robbins
What to Expect at Your Voice Lesson
Maybe you’ve made the leap and signed up for voice lessons (congratulations!) or maybe you’re just thinking about it (do it!). Either way, you probably want to know what to expect at your first voice lesson.
There’s nothing to be nervous about—I promise we voice teachers don’t bite! Your first voice lesson is mostly about you and your voice teacher getting to know each other. Every voice teacher does things a little differently, but this introductory lesson will likely include a short chat and a vocal assessment. Here’s what will probably happen—and how you can make the most of it.
What to Bring
The first step to a productive first voice lesson is coming prepared. Your teacher will be impressed if you bring these essentials to your first lesson:
- Something to take notes on and hold sheet music. This can be a three-ring binder with loose-leaf paper and a pencil OR a tablet.
A smartphone can also be helpful for scheduling, as well as accessing recording and accompaniment tracks. However, it is certainly not required.
Getting to Know You
At your first voice lesson, your new teacher will likely want to chat with you a little before you start singing. Your teacher may want to know:
- Your experience level. How long have you been singing? Have you ever been in a choir? Have you ever taken voice lessons before?
- What types of music you want to sing. Do you prefer pop, opera, musical theatre? If you prefer non-classical music, are you open to trying classical singing as a pedagogical tool?
- Any specific vocal issues you want to overcome. Do you find yourself running out of breath? Do you have tension issues? Do you suspect you may have a vocal health problem?
Getting to Know Your Voice
Every voice teacher has a unique teaching process, but almost all of us do some kind of vocal assessment during the first lesson. This helps us get acclimated with your voice and understand how best we can help you. My short assessment includes:
- Range. Your teacher will probably take you up and down the scale to measure your range. I usually have students write this range down so we can recognize their progress as they continue to take voice lessons and their range grows.
- Song Sample. Because many people sing vocal exercises differently than they sing actual music, your teacher may also ask you to sing a piece of a song. Sheet music or a karaoke backtrack on your smartphone can make this easier.
During this vocal assessment, your teacher will be watching and listening for several things. She or he will notice what you are already good at and what you need to work on. These elements can include:
- Harmful tension
- Soft palate positioning
- Pitch accuracy
- Tone quality
The elements that need the most work will likely be the focus of the first few voice lessons. Depending on the length of your lesson, your teacher may have time to start working with you on a few things immediately.
The Path to Better Singing
By coming prepared and leaving your nerves at the door, you’ll give your new teacher the best chance of figuring out how to help you become an amazing singer. Your first voice lesson could also be the beginning of a wonderful and productive relationship with your voice teacher; I’m in contact with every single one of my previous voice teachers and consider them all mentors and dear friends. Preparing for this first lesson, keeping an open mind, and listening to your teacher’s advice will dramatically improve your skills—and, over time, make you one of your teacher’s favorite students.