Personalized Video Lessons
I am excited to announce that I now offer a unique and affordable way of receiving lessons - "Personalized Video Lessons". Unlike other generalized instructional videos that one might find on-line or in pre-recorded instructional DVDs, these videos are recorded as lessons for the individual student, and are tailored to the student based on his or her individual skills, needs and goals.
These videos are truly personalized in every sense of the word. I will not 'cut and paste' parts of videos recorded for other students. I will likely even use the individual singer's name when speaking. The student will almost feel as if he or she is participating in a Skype lesson with me, only it won't be in real time.
The Benefits of Personalized Video Lessons
The benefits of choosing this Personalized Video Lesson option are numerous.
First, Personalized Video Lessons are more affordable than private voice lessons, instructional DVDs and books on the topic of singing. This is ideal for students who can't afford traditional 'in studio' lessons or Skype lessons on a regular basis but are struggling to make progress on their own. The student can also send in a one-time lesson submission without any further commitment, wait a month or two between submissions or until the next pay cheque, etc..
Second, the student is able to take the lessons whenever he or she wishes, making it ideal for singers in different parts of the world or different time zones, and has in his or her possession a video recording that can be paused or replayed as many times as is desired. These lessons will make a great addition to a library of reference tools for the singer. (Keeping a copy of the student's audio or video submissions will also provide tracking and objective proof of progress, as the student will be able to compare his or her earliest recordings to those sent later.)
Third, because they are tailored to the individual student, the student does not have to weed through several minutes of irrelevant information before getting to advice and instructions that are pertinent to his or her singing at that time, as is often the case in pre-recorded instructional DVDs and CDs.
Fourth, the student receives direct feedback about his or her singing, not generic advice that may or may not be useful or helpful for all singers. If the exercises are being sung incorrectly (or well), the student will have confirmation directly from a teacher, rather than having to guess as to whether or not the exercises are being sung correctly, or pay the price of incorrect singing later on with declining vocal health. I am a very versatile and experienced teacher, and have worked with every kind of voice and every kind of voice problem in my years of teaching. If one exercise does not produce the desired results, I have many more 'tricks' up my sleeve. Different students respond to different approaches. Voice study is not a one-size fits all class, (which is why lessons and lesson plans should always be individualized).
Fifth, as always, any student of mine is encouraged to contact me between lessons with questions and I will provide any necessary or requested supplemental advice or clarification. I am committed to the success of my students, and will do everything that I can to help them reach their singing goals.
Finally, because I have a good reputation with great success as a teacher, the student can be assured that the information and guidance received from me will be scientifically correct, healthy, and quality.
How It Works
A singer who is interested in receiving direct feedback about his or her singing and specific instructions on how to improve his or her technique can follow the gender appropriate link at the bottom of this page that will lead him or her to a series of YouTube postings containing pre-recorded vocal exercises on my channel (singwisevocals). Along with these vocal exercises, I provide a demonstration and some directions on how to sing them in an on-line video. The singer would then record himself or herself singing these exercises - this will take about seven or eight minutes - and submit them to me, preferably in video format so that I may observe vocal posture. For the initial submission, the singer should only record the 'basic' exercises, even if he or she feels that his or her skills are more advanced.
Having a precise, pre-determined and common set of exercises provides me with a standardized 'lesson plan' for all submissions so that I can receive exactly what I need from the student in order to make an accurate assessment of his or her skills. This also frees up the student from having to try to figure out what he or she should record and send to me. (I have often had to request that singers re-record their audio files because they didn't cover a broad enough range, didn't pace the exercises well, didn't use more than one vowel sound, didn't sing the exercises in enough keys, didn't also sing the scale in a descending pattern, etc..) Finally, it ensures that time is well spent for both parties.
Note: I will accept video submissions in which a song is sung in lieu of the vocal exercises that I have provided, if that is what the student would prefer to do. (I am here to serve, and to provide whatever kind of help a student desires.) I will provide feedback on the technique applied to the singing of the recorded song, as well as offer some 'vocal coaching'.
For simplicity's sake and for computer security, it is requested that the singer please send me links to YouTube videos (which can be made private, solely for my own viewing through invitation or password) rather than sending downloadable files directly to my e-mail address. I may not open up audio files that are sent from unknown accounts.
It is not necessary to contact me ahead of time to inform me that I should expect to receive a file, or to ask for permission to send me one. However, it is encouraged that a singer who submits a Personalized Video Lesson recording also include an e-mail (or additional video link) containing any pertinent information that he or she would like for me to have or specific questions that he or she would like to me to answer in my video response.
Once I have received the lesson submission and the nominal $12 (USD) lesson fee, I will then record a six- to eight-minute-long Personalized Video Lesson that will address the unique aspects of the singer's, range, vocal weight, timbre, tone, probable voice type, breath management and other aspects of vocal technique. In this Personalized Video Lesson, I will offer specific instructions for improving technique, possibly provide more exercises that will help the singer see improvement in the areas that need improvement, encouragement and positive feedback for what the singer is already doing well, and answers to any questions that may have been e-mailed to me along with the video.
My commitment is to send a personalized video reply within forty-eight hours of having received the student's video recording of the assigned exercises. If it does take longer, please contact me to discuss the status of your video lesson. (I may be away on vacation or very busy with my teaching schedule, or something urgent has come up that is preventing me from being more prompt in my response.)
If the student chooses to practice and apply what I have taught him or her, and then submit another recording (for another Personalized Video Lesson fee), he or she may use the same link and the same exercises, unless I assign another exercise to more directly address the singer's technical needs. (At a later date, I will also provide links to intermediate and advanced lesson options, and I will determine when the student is ready for these exercises, which will be once he or she has mastered certain fundamental skills.)
As with any other lessons, please be well rested, hydrated and warmed up prior to recording your lesson so that I can hear your voice at its best.
Instructions For the Exercises
Please record exercises 1 and 2. There are some instructions written below, and these instructions will also be given in the YouTube video, along with demonstrations.
With all exercises, the starting pitch will be a note that should be accessible to all singers within the gender, regardless of voice type or vocal development. For females, this starting pitch will be G3 - the G below middle C. For males, this starting pitch will be C3 - the C one octave below middle C. (Please ensure that the correct gender range is selected.)
The singer is to sing as much of the exercise as possible, stopping on the ascending pattern if he or she can no longer sing the uppermost pitches (which will be A5 in the female scale and C5 in the male scale), then resuming the exercise as it begins to come back down in key. Likewise, the singer should sing as low as possible, but feel free to stop once the lowermost pitches are no longer accessible or comfortably singable. (The bottommost pitches will be D3 in the female scale and F2 in the male scale.) Even if the singer has a more substantial range than the two-and-a-half octaves that these exercises will span, this range will cover all vocal registers and passaggi for all voice types, and provide me with sufficient information to make an accurate assessment of the singer's vocal skills. The top or bottom pitches of each key will flash on the video to let the student know what pitch he or she is going to be singing, but this should not become a distraction or a deterrent (e.g., knowing that the singer is going to sing a certain high pitch should not create anxiety or an unwillingness to attempt to sing the note). It may be best to not watch the pitches at all.
It would likely be helpful for the student to, at some point in the video recording, sing with his or her side facing the camera so that I may observe his or her vocal posture from that angle.
The singer is encouraged to allow the voice to be whatever it is naturally, rather than trying to make it sound a certain way in order to make it more 'impressive' or to match what he or she thinks that I might be wanting to hear. I will not be listening for unique 'style', but for pure technical execution.
Remember that this is a 'no pressure' lesson. I won't be judging the singer or laughing at any poorly sung notes (e.g., 'squeaked' out high notes or 'grunted' out lower notes), vocal breaks, unwanted pitch deviations (e.g., 'sour notes'), facial gestures, closed eyes, etc.. I've seen and heard it all in my career, and nothing is new or surprising to me. My only aim is to help by providing feedback and information upon listening and observing. The singer should simply do his or her absolute best while singing the prescribed exercises, be open to constructive criticism, then trust my guidance.
Exercise 1 should be executed with either a tongue-tip trill or a lip roll. Trills will provide not only additional warm-up for the voice, but will provide me with certain clues about the voice's natural function at various points along the range and the singer's technique that may not be present once the singer is asked to sing vowel sounds. If the singer can neither trill nor lip roll, or cannot do so without the feeling of an excessive amount of tension, 'squeezing' (compression) or strain building up, this exercise should be modified and sung on an /u/, as in 'shoe', vowel sound instead. This exercise covers an octave in each key sung, which will also give me important information on how the singer navigates the register transitions.
Exercise 2 should be recorded once through singing only the vowel /a/, as demonstrated. Then, the exercise will be recorded four more times, singing /o/, then /u/, /e/, and finally /i/. (Please listen closely to the directions on YouTube for proper pronunciation of these vowel sounds.)
Personalized Video Lessons are $12 USD per submission.