Time to register for the Fall 2019 Semester! Whether you’re already taking college classes, or you have children who are starting back to school after the summer break— it’s time to look ahead to the coming school year! And that means new opportunities to take great singing classes at your local community college.
But, many people struggle with whether to take an actual voice class, or to study privately with a professional teacher, one-on-one. The answer may be less obvious than you think! In a perfect world, we’d all like to have the time and the money to have the focused attention of a terrific voice teacher for a half-hour, 45-minute or even an hour singing lesson every week. There’s nothing like having a totally customized training session that is 100% about YOU and your needs. But, alas, it can be expensive.
So what’s the alternative? A college singing class!
The Top Benefits of a College Voice Class:
- It’s WAY less expensive! For about the same price as two half-hour private lessons, you can get 32 hours (in a 16-week semester) of wonderful instruction in a group class! Not only is this incredibly cost-effective, but being in the class environment carries a host of other benefits. Read on…
- You will be singing more often. Depending on the schedule of the class, participating will add one to two days more a week of singing to your life. If you’re already practicing on your own, taking a private voice lesson as well, or singing in your virtual church choir, more is better! And if you’re not singing at all yet, this is a great way to get started. The more you sing (correctly), the faster you will develop.
- You meet other singers. Being in the group environment online will connect you with other singing students, who are extremely like-minded, supportive and friendly. You’ll also meet instrumentalists, who you may want to make music with in the future! And, especially at a community college, there’s always an interesting mix of ages, backgrounds and personalities in the class, which makes the experience more diverse and multi-faceted. It’s not uncommon for me to have someone as young as high school age or as old as 80, with every age in between, in one of my classes. And they all appreciate and learn from each other!
- You’ll learn much more. In a class setting, we can dig a lot deeper into vocal technique, song selection, music history, musicianship, performing skills and many other elements of singing that cannot be squeezed into a private voice lesson. You’ll come away with so much more than you ever knew existed in regard to your singing voice and life!
- Consistency. There’s something about spending money and taking the time and trouble to sign up for a class that keeps most people attending on a regular basis. That consistency will do wonders for your voice! Slow and steady wins the game, and coming to class regularly makes a huge difference in your results.
- Accountability. Being in a class means that you have to learn your exercises and songs, and practice! There’s nothing more embarrassing than coming to a singing class unprepared. We’ve all had that classic performer’s nightmare about being on stage and not knowing what you’re supposed to be performing (thank goodness we usually wake up at that point!). You’ll want to practice, if for no other reason than to keep up with the class! See my post: Practice Singing Smarter, for Faster Results!
- You’ll have a place to practice. Once you are enrolled in a college voice class, you are granted free access to the practice rooms on campus. This is a terrific bonus! If you live in an apartment and can’t make noise, always have family around, or simply want to practice while you’re at school, you now have a place to go. They are usually open to students from early morning into the evening, often six days a week. These rooms have pianos, music stands and mirrors. Just pick one and sing!
- Connection to other singing opportunities. Once you’re in that college environment, connecting with other singers and instrumentalists as well as your teacher, new opportunities to sing will start to pop up. Maybe you decide to join one of the choirs, or audition for a musical or the opera scenes show. Or, you decide to sing at the music club’s open mike night, or a fellow student needs backup singers for his recording project. Perhaps you connect with the jazz band and get to perform with them at one of the school concerts. Being in class and in the school environment creates performance possibilities you didn’t even consider before!
- You must perform in front of others. This is one of the biggest benefits of a voice class over a private lesson! If all you do is study privately and sing in your bathroom, well, that’s all you’re ever going to do. But when you take a group singing class, now you have to sing not only with the group, but in small groups and then individually. Scared? Don’t let it stop you! Everybody else in the class is as nervous as you are. They will all support you and cheer you on, if for no other reason than they know they’ll have to be up there soon, too! I’ve been teaching these classes for 17 years, and believe me, I have never seen anyone make fun of anyone. I am always so impressed by the wonderfully supportive environment the students create for each other. Visit my post: Performance Anxiety— Stop It Before It Starts!
- Exposure to new repertoire. We all have our favorite singing styles and visions of what music we would like to perform. In a voice class, however, you are exposed to multiple genres of songs, some of which you may never have encountered before. This can benefit both your vocal development and your musicianship! In my classes, for example, the first unit usually concentrates on folk songs, spirituals, and some simple part-singing or rounds. In the second unit, we usually focus on different musical theater styles from the Broadway stage or even movies. In the third unit, we delve into the Great American Songbook and jazz standards. And finally, like most community college voice classes, we culminate with an Italian art song or two. Depending on the season, I also incorporate holiday music, patriotic songs or other special styles. Do you do all that on your own? Most likely not. Students are generally amazed at how much music is “out there” that they never even imagined!
- Opportunity to work with an accompanist. These days, technology affords us the opportunity to find prerecorded accompaniment tracks for almost any song. This can be a fantastic tool for learning what the arrangement and instrumentation sounds like as we are practicing! But, it has several drawbacks. First, it is putting the cart before the horse! You have to fit your singing into whatever tempo the track was recorded at, which leaves you no room for your own interpretation, and in many cases, is too fast or slow. Secondly, sometimes the recorded arrangement is incomplete, or different than the sheet music you are using, causing confusion. Lastly, the tracks may only be available in a key that is not right for your voice! In a singing class, you will be able to work with a highly-professional, living, breathing piano accompanist! He or she will play all the vocal exercises and songs for the class as a group, but will also play for you when you sing individually. The accompanist will follow you, not the other way around.
- You will get one-on-one coaching as well! One of the best facets of taking a college voice class is the opportunity to receive individual instruction and coaching from the teacher during class. This is what we call a Masterclass format, where the teacher works with a student in front of the rest of the class. Sound terrifying? It isn’t! Students get over their fear very quickly when they know they can get such personalized attention. When I teach my classes in this way, the other students listen intently, because chances are, everything I am working on with that student up front is something they need to address in their own singing as well! Seeing and hearing another student work on their vocal and performing technique from the audience perspective is a super-effective way to learn. That’s another big advantage of a group class over a private lesson.
- You will improve your speaking voice as well as your singing voice. Many of the techniques I use in voice class are equally applicable to your speaking voice, as well as to your singing voice. I frequently have non-singers take the class for that very reason. While you can achieve this kind of progress as a by-product of a private lesson, the very nature of the group class setting, the large room, and the exercises we practice there will give your speaking voice more authority, comfortable production, and stamina. See my earlier post: SPEAK AS YOU SING, SING AS YOU SPEAK
- You’ll get stress relief, and just plain fun! While we certainly work hard in singing classes, and you do have to learn a certain number of songs and exercises, it’s also enjoyable and stress-busting. We do stretches, deep breathing, physical exercise and our vocal exercises, all of which relieve tension, while helping your vocal development. We also get to express ourselves artistically, and connect with that intangible something that makes us all want to sing in the first place! And, the social connection with the other students brings a wonderful sense of camraderie, similar to being in a choir or a sports team. See my post: Sing, Pray, Love– How Joining a Choir Could Change Your Life!
- It is preparation for further study. A college voice class can be a tremendous way to begin your singing studies, or to return to singing after a long absence. It can get you on the road to achieving your vocal goals in ways you never even imagined! Whether you sing as a hobby, plan to be a music major and/or have sights on a professional music career, it can all start with that first singing class. Why not take the leap, and give it a try? For more direction and inspiration, visit my post: Back to School, Back to Singing!
If you live in southern California, I’d love to see you in one of our OCC classes this Fall! Here’s a link to the Orange Coast College Fall 2019 Schedule of Music Classes: http://www.orangecoastcollege.edu/academics/class_schedule/Pages/default.aspx
You must register with the college first: http://www.orangecoastcollege.edu/Pages/home.aspx
Click on the Apply Now button to begin the registration process. Once you receive your registration appointment, you can sign up for:
Music 145, Voice 1, or Music 146, Voice 2.
If you don’t live in SoCal, do check out your local community college music classes.