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  • Scott Carlton

TYPES OF VOICE TEACHERS


THE PHILOSOPHER – Tends to teach/speak in metaphors and images, talks about

chakras, etc.. Does a great deal of talking in the studio.


THE DRILL SERGEANT - “Just do it!” is a common refrain in this studio. “Don’t be

so complicated, do what I told you to do!”. “Get that jaw down!” and “You’re not

supporting!” are commonly heard. Little or no tolerance for questions and any

resistance or confusion is met with stonewalling or outright hostility.


THE THERAPIST - tends to address issues commonly not within the realm of voice

study: the student’s personal life and psyche. Extreme cases involve transgressing

boundaries. Wants to “befriend” the singer and his, her or their family. Does a great deal of talking

in the studio.


THE SCIENTIST - Can name all anatomic structures related to the vocal apparatus,

especially the complex mechanisms and intrinsic parts (vocal folds, various

cartilages - cricoid, arytenoid, etc.) and the role they play in pitch formation. Is

versed in the overtone series, vowel formants, etc. Can talk at length about the

Bernoulli Effect. May offer complex solutions to vocal issues and problems and

ignore simple, practical solutions. Does a great deal of talking in the studio.


THE NON-SINGER - Very often a conductor, a coach or a pianist who has played for

voice lessons. Has picked up a variety of phrases (“Lift the palate”, “Relax your

throat”, “Support your voice”) and uses them indiscriminately.


THE RETIRED PROFESSIONAL SINGER, ESPECIALLY A FORMER "STAR" – Has little

pedagogical training and tends to ask the student to emulate and imitate. Does a

great deal of demonstration in the studio. The greatest of former stars very often

have little knowledge of how they did what they did as singers. Can be good

teachers if they have done enough study and self-analysis and have enough

introspection regarding their own singing


THE DENIGRATOR - Casts aspersions on or “bad-mouths” other voice teachers.

Gossips in a negative fashion about colleagues in an attempt to elevate

himself/herself to the “top of the heap” of voice teachers. Tends to blame

departing students as not having grasped the Denigrator’s concepts. Claims to

have the “only” true method of singing, usually inherited from a long line of “bel

cantists going back to Porpora” (G. B. Shaw).


THE CHEERLEADER - Well-meaning attempts at positive reinforcement (“Great”

“Wonderful” “Fabulous” “That’s it! You’ve got it!”) can take the place of

necessary critical problem-solving. While a positive atmosphere is essential in the

studio – it cannot take the place of constructive criticism and the often painstaking

process of problem-solving and vocal development.


THE BALANCED, PROFESSIONAL VOICE TEACHER - Has a great deal of experience

teaching (5+ years minimum). Regardless of age, continues to study with a teacher

himself or herself and seeks new input and new solutions from colleagues. Does

not apply a “cookie-cutter” to students (i.e., the same exercises and concepts to

every student). Has been a professional vocalist on some level. It is my opinion

that anyone who has not been in the “hot seat” as a performer cannot truly

understand what goes on in the mind and body of the singer. Has a good

knowledge of repertoire and, ideally, can play the piano to a reasonable degree. Is

comfortable saying “I don’t know.” It is my opinion that the strict division of

“technicians” from “coaches” is artificial and the truly qualified voice teacher

embodies elements of both technician and coach. Does not teach repertory he or

she does not like or understand. Has professional memberships and associations

and maintains professional relationships with conductors and agents.



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