TYPES OF VOICE STUDENTS
Updated: Oct 7, 2020
THE "SPRUNG FROM THE EARTH, FULLY FORMED" SINGER
Sings with natural beauty, has deep instinct for singing. Has never been improperly
taught. Few bad habits or vocal problems. Has innate confidence in his or her abilities.
The voice teacher’s dream student. The voice teacher’s job here is to get out of the way
and guide the student into the right repertory and pave the way for professional
THE BLANK SLATE
Wants to be told what to do at every step. Often wants a template of exercises to be
repeated over and over, without correction or refining. Not particularly interested in the
“Why” of vocal technique, and is interested in the “How” only to the extent it involves rote
repetition. Not particularly introspective or self-analytical about his or her singing.
Is deeply interested in singing and singers. May have a good voice, but may be more
interested in the process and in discussing voice than actually performing. Rightly sees
voice study as a laboratory for personal growth.
May have been on the receiving end of bad teaching or abuse.
May have sung the wrong material or been trained as the wrong voice type. Views
all input with suspicion – often justified.
THE PROFESSIONAL IN CRISIS
Often actively performing on a high level of visibility. Through periods of illness,
stress, and/or singing improper repertoire has reached an impasse and is often in a
state of fear. May be studying as a “shadow student”, i.e., is studying with a well-known
teacher but is unable to transition away from him/her for political reasons. He or she must
not be told that they “have to start at square one” – too much is at stake financially and
reputationally. Solutions must be found within the context of what the singer
currently does well.
Cultural Considerations: I once had a Japanese student to whom saying she didn’t
understand to me was in her mind highly rude. Because of her mother tongue, she
had great difficulty producing an “u” vowel. I would repeatedly demonstrate and
she would repeatedly sing the adulterated Japanese vowel back to me. When I
asked her if she understood the difference, she would smile and nod “yes” and still
not be able to create the sound we were working for. I had a German student who
considered the typical American personality to be overly positive and overly
friendly. My open American attitude was to her way of thinking silly and shallow.
She responded more favorably to a somewhat bossy manner of instruction, but this
difference in cultural attitude dissolved over time.
The balanced, professional voice teacher is able to accommodate all personalities
and cultures. He or she accords every student the inherent respect the student
merits as a human being, regardless of level of accomplishment, age or
©2020 by Scott Carlton