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Ah, yes, I did pick a voice teacher, and it was #3, which I had early on guessed I would like best. And indeed, she surpassed my expectations, by not only being knowledgeable about music (her Ph.D. in music shows), but also easy to work with (she did not force me to learn from the 24 Italian Songs book), and who is also well connected to the classical singing community in my city! She is going to send me listings of opportunities to sing and perform!

So I am very happy, and looking forward to a satisfactory learning relationship with her. This will not be a traditional teacher-student relationship, as I will explain in my next post, but one where two minds meet and we teach and learn together. Bon voyage.

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I visited two voice teachers today, and I will be visiting a third one on Friday. But for now I wanted to jot down my impressions of each teacher really quickly and do a comparison between the two.

Teacher 1
Teaching location: House
Age: 30s?
Performance experience: Sings opera and Broadway, currently auditions for parts in local theaters and opera houses.
Teaching experience: Nearly 20 years
Technique: Conscious vocal power – focuses on inner calm
Teaching rate: Very high, but has sliding scale for amateurs
My impression of our first lesson: I liked her confidence and warmth. She spoke to me as if she expected me to become a performer like she was. She said I had a beautiful voice (at the end of our lesson), and was very excited when I told her about Susan Boyle. She does not believe in age limits for people pursuing their dreams. I found myself a tiny bit cynical sometimes when she spoke like this, wondering if she was just trying to flatter me. I did like the exercises and techniques that she had me do, because they helped me to focus the sound of my voice and my breath in a calm way. We focused a lot on keeping the tongue flat and focusing the sound on the edge of the upper lip in order to get the best tone. At the end of one exercise she told me that I would be able to sing a lot higher than I think. She told me to get one of Cecelia Bartoli’s CD of art songs. I don’t know if I would be able to afford her on a weekly basis. Also, she only teaches during business hours. But she did say that much depended on the amount of commitment and hard work I was willing to put in to pursue my dreams. She reacted very well when I told me that I was trying out other teachers, and encouraged me to do so, because she thought it was a great idea (! another nearly unbelieving moment). Overall, a strong performer who is a very supportive teacher.

Teacher 2
Teaching location: House
Age: 60s?
Performance experience: Used to sing opera and in church, but not so much anymore.
Teaching experience: 30+ years
Technique: Bel Canto, very analytical and precise
Teaching rate: Low-reasonable
My impression of our first lesson: She was very easy to talk to, and we spent a lot of time going over suitable music for me to sing. She was pleasantly surprised by my singing and thought that it was beautiful, and that I “could do anything I wanted” with it. Unlike teacher 1, she told me that I did not need to open my mouth wide to sing, and I could let my stomach out. She also taught me to balance my weight forward and keep my chin level to the ground when singing. She gave me a very helpful exercise to flatten my back in order to keep my head and posture correct. She kept correcting me on my facial expression, and told me to smile when singing, in order to use my facial resonators correctly. She said I was probably only using about 1/4 of the power of my resonating power. She was very knowledgeable about human anatomy and taught me about using the intercostal muscles to breathe, and letting the air sink low to my hips. She pointed out that my jaw did most of the work, and I needed to move my upper lip a lot more (just like my mom used to say, ha). She diagnosed very quickly the break in my voice, which indicated that I was probably a mezzo soprano. We also went through all of the syllables in my song that would give me trouble. Unfortunately she went over the hourly time and I had to stop her in order to get back to work. Also, I grew tired and annoyed with the analyzing of the song and didn’t like the way my voice sounded while incorporating her exercises. My voice seemed a lot more thin and girlish, instead of round and full, like I wanted. Maybe with more work it would sound better. Overall, very knowledgeable and analytical teacher.

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Both teachers preferred that I tape record the whole lesson, so I need to get a better tape recorder. And oy, why is it that every teacher uses the same book of classical art songs that I used to have? They are fine songs, but I regard them as exercise songs instead of performance songs. I noticed the focus on my upper lip. I have to work on that, and also use my facial resonators. I hope that Teacher 3 will be a happy medium of the two. She just got her doctorate in music last year, and I like her rate and schedule.

But I did love the experience of driving through parts of the city that I had never seen before. It was like going on a mini adventure, and I even accidentally ended up on the highway once, because my map was wrong! Life is an adventure, and even finding a teacher is the same.