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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Tips for choosing your child’s voice teacher

Voice teacher Toby Yatso

Toby Yatso (right), faculty member with ASU School of Music, performs with Phoenix Theatre. Photos: Erin Evangeline Photography.

Maybe your child loves chorus classes at school, or sings a bit when performing with local theater companies. Before you take it to the next level with private voice lessons, check out these tips for choosing your child’s voice teacher, shared by Toby Yatso, faculty member at the ASU School of Music in Tempe.

Follow your child’s lead. Be sure your child or teen really wants to take lessons before you start the process of looking for suitable teachers. Don’t push your child if singing isn’t a real passion, and be sure to involve your child in the process of choosing the best voice teacher. The best teacher is one who is skilled, but also has good rapport with your child.

Know and share your goals. It’s best to know your goals before starting lessons. Voice teachers typically adapt their instruction to meet the differing needs of students. Some take voice lessons to prepare for specific theater production or college auditions. Some hope to pursue singing careers; others consider singing a hobby. A good voice teacher will ask about goals up front.

Consider teacher qualifications. It’s important to ask about teacher training and experience, but good voice teachers come with a variety of backgrounds. One good teacher may have more academic credentials, and another more on-stage experience. What matters most is finding the best fit for your unique child.

Talk with teachers before signing on. Have at least one unhurried conversation with the teacher you’re considering before making a commitment. Take your child along so you can assess how well they’re likely to communicate and work together. That goes for freelance voice teachers and those working for a music store or studio.

Tips for choosing your child's voice teacher

Toby Yatso as Bert in “Mary Poppins” at Phoenix Theatre.

More expert insights

Yatso, who many families will recognize from his recent performance as Bert in “Mary Poppins” at Phoenix Theatre, shared these additional insights:

There is no best age to start voice lessons, although children should be able to read and focus for the duration of a lesson. Most children begin during middle school.

Most local music and theater companies are happy to point families toward professionals who offer voice lessons. You can also check with music departments at local colleges and universities, or with the National Association of Teachers of Singing, for recommendations.

It’s tough to find a good freelance voice teacher who charges less than $50 to $60 an hour. Expect to pay more for a teacher with a considerable amount of vocal performance or teaching experience.

Ask prospective teachers how they structure lessons. Most students benefit from a combination of warm-ups, technique and repertoire work on specific songs—plus homework between sessions.

Beware the teacher who merely praises your child without giving honest but supportive corrections.

Ways to learn more

Watch for an upcoming post featuring specific places that offer voice lessons for children.

Attend Camp Fair AZ 2015 to learn more about summer camps that include vocal instruction.

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Lynn Trimble

Lynn Trimble of Scottsdale is an award-winning arts writer and mother of three grown children whose work has appeared in Raising Arizona Kids and Phoenix New Times.

Copyrighted material. All rights reserved. This content may not be published, rewritten, broadcast or redistributed without permission of the publisher.

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