Frequently Asked Questions
These are some actual questions Martha has recently received (and the answers she gave) –
What happens during a lesson? Lessons begin with vocalise, the art of vocal exercises on vowel sounds and shapes. The point of this is to build strength, coordination, and muscle memory in the body and conceptual understanding of vocalization in the mind. After these drills, we move on to repertoire work. While working on songs, we utilize the technical concepts and practices we are focusing on and apply them to the music phrases and lyric patterns in the song(s) we are currently studying.
What exactly is bel canto technique? Bel Canto refers to a style of singing first made famous in the 16th century in Italian opera that glorified and celebrated the human voice. As a technical term, it is used to describe a teaching style that emphasizes purity of tone, vocal agility and smoothness, and a voice that is free of breaks or differentiations between vocal registers.
I don’t want to sound like an opera singer…will bel canto technique make me sound like that? No, not if you are not interested in studying that style of music and do not have a voice that is suited to that type of repertoire. The philosophy behind the bel canto style of teaching is that singing should be natural, healthy, and tension free. Singers with this kind of proper foundation can apply it to any style of song they wish
What if I have absolutely no talent? I am here to help you, not to judge you. You are here to learn about yourself as a singer and to grow. I encourage you to leave your fear and inhibition at the door and bring with you to your lessons your open mind, curiosity, and willingness to take instruction. Singing is similar to speech. Do you have the ability to sustain a tone when you speak? I bet you can sing! The quality of your tone when singing can be improved through study as can your understanding of the physiology of the process of vocalization and the use of your body (that’s what I can help you with). How much improvement you will see will have to do with how much you involve yourself in your study and apply yourself to the process. I can honestly say that 100% of the students who have worked with me have seen some form of improvement and growth during their course of study while working with me (be it weeks, months, or years). I believe talent has more to do with natural tone quality, musicality, a singer’s ear (pitch matching ability), and performance nuance (some people refer to this as the “it factor”).
What if I have to miss a lesson? If you know you are going to miss a lesson due to a scheduled vacation, school event, doctor’s appointment, work commitment, etc., just let me know in advance and we’ll see if we can reschedule the lesson for the week (though rescheduling can prove to be difficult because my schedule is booked fairly tightly). If rescheduling is not possible, a lesson will be skipped for the week; if it was previously paid for, a credit will be given for the following month. If a lesson is missed without notification, the lesson is still charged.
Can I choose a song that I really want to work on? Most certainly. However it is important that we determine if this selection will be beneficial to your study. Sometimes students pick out songs that are not necessarily the best thing to work on at that particular point in their course of study (either too demanding, too fast, too high, too low, etc.). That does not mean that it isn’t a choice that could be revisited in the future.
Can my mom (dad/friend/etc.) drop me off for my lesson? Yes, but please be aware that there is likely to be a student scheduled directly before and after your lesson. If your ride drops you off early and picks you up late, you will have wait outside the studio and there is no lobby. This can be tricky during bad weather. Just be sure your drop off and pick up rides are aware of the time!
Can my mom (dad/friend/etc.) stay during the lesson? Lesson observation is permitted but is entirely up to the student. If a student will feel self-conscious or inhibited in any way because someone is observing, I do not encourage having anyone else but the student and the teacher in the room. On the other hand, there are many students who enjoy having a parent or friend in a lesson. There is a comfortable sitting area in the studio for guests to sit and observe lessons.
I really want this part…can you help me get it? I and my teaching associations are delighted to help you with your audition preparation! Casting depends on so many variables — what the director wants and needs; competitive talent; physical and/or performance presentation that you offer; “political” considerations (senior members in a school or program, etc.). The most important thing about an audition is that YOU feel prepared and can walk away from it feeling that you did the very best that you can. That is where I can help you — preparing you to present the very best YOU.