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  • Scott Carlton

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

opportunities.


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.


THE SEEKER

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.


THE SKEPTIC

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

background.

©2020 by Scott Carlton



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