I am professional musician in the Ann Arbor area (in that I blessed to make a living doing music); and though my training is principally in keyboard instruments, my current job as a music director at a church requires me to sing frequently as well. I had voice lessons for a brief period at the time my voice was changing, but my training has otherwise come entirely through being in choirs and the little tips one comes across while working with other musicians. I am told that I have a naturally pleasant voice, but I am concerned that due to my lack of training I am slowly damaging my voice, especially now that I am singing multiple times per week (both classical hymn/sacred repertory and contemporary popular worship music). I am intrigued by the information presented on your website, and I am wondering whether I might be able to benefit from your services. My goal is to develop a healthy voice so that it is at my service for years to come, but I am not aspiring to learn the finest details of the art. I have been encouraged by a music director mentor to get some further vocal training, but I have always been leery of doing that — I have heard many unpleasant “trained” voices, and I have repeatedly heard of the risks of bad voice teachers (echoed on your website), so I have been hesitant to commit myself to lessons. Thank you for your consideration.
Nice to hear from you. I can appreciate your hesitation in committing to training. It is not unusual for it to create more problems than it fixes. Then there is also the problem of being taught to sound a particular way. This is a very common trait in voice training. This is a common complaint from non-classical singers when they try voice lessons. They rebel against the fact that the teacher is trying to make them sound like a classical singer. And I have to admit that it is a legitimate complaint. Then there is the equally common problem that is the same issue, just in the opposite direction. We regularly hear Musical Theater teachers directing singers in how to sound like a Musical Theater singer. Again, this is dealing with imitation of a sound concept. Neither of these approaches are dealing with the function of the instrument. They both neglect the healthy behavior of the body in search of a particular sound concept that is accepted as the norm. This is the unfortunate state of vocal training.
That is why I have no interest in teaching some technique about how to sing. The body already knows how it wants to operate. What we need to do is learn how our body is designed to function vocally. Then we can reinforce nature with our understanding rather than impose our opinions onto our body.
If you have survived this long already, then you probably have some natural sense of how to get your voice to work. When you understand how the parts of your body involved work together you can make sure you are functioning well to meet the challenges of your frequent singing.
The concern you express is a legitimate one. Just like an athlete that advances to more frequent and challenging competition risks injury and break-down in the body, the singer that increases the frequency and duration of their singing puts themselves at risk for vocal break-down. The answer to this is to have a solid functioning vocal equipment to meet the challenge.
The goal you share is exactly the kind that will serve you the greatest. Ultimately, if we enjoy singing we should want our voice to last as long as we live. This will only happen if we keep it healthy though intelligent, natural function to avoid overuse damage.