Most lessons will begin with a short vocal warm up to test the range and see how the ever changing voice is working at the time, wake up the vocal mechanism and get it ready for all the demands of singing, and remind the mind and body of the steps and requirements of good singing.
Usually, the second part of the lesson is devoted to the advancement of vocal technique. Some singing techniques are universal and every singer must master these to sing their best. However, each voice is different and might need customized solutions to the issues a particular singer faces.
The third part of the lesson will be devoted to working on a song. The ultimate goal of singing is almost always to sing a song. The focus will be to first ensure accurate rhythm and notes but then move on to more advanced goals like singing with good diction, musicality, and technique. Basically, the goal is not to just sing a song, but to sing it very well.
Lessons are usually 45 minutes long and given once a week. This gives us time to work on the 3 elements of a good voice lesson. I offer extra times for students in the final stages of preparation for a competition or audition. However, under normal circumstances, once a week is sufficient.
Lessons are offered Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday during the mornings, afternoon, evening, even late evening on some days. Saturday lessons are also offered during the morning and afternoon, and occasionally the evning.
You're never too old to sing. The greatest opera singer of the 20th century, Luciano Pavarati, sang professionally until two months before his death at the age of 71. George Beverly Shea, sang professionally until the age of 96. He lived to the age of 104 when he died in 2013. My oldest voice student is 82 and doing some of the best singing of their life.
Generally speaking, a child should begin seriously taking voice lessons around 5th or 6th grade. By that age, their vocal chords have slowed their growing curve and they have reached the level of emotional maturity required for a focused voice lesson. There are notable exceptions to this however. If the child is already using their voice in a professional capacity, pursuing a singing career, or working in community theatre, they need to be in voice lessons.
Age also does not determine how well you can sing. I take pros and beginners. First, almost anyone can learn to sing well. There are a few truly tone deaf people out there, but they are extremely rare. People who can't seem to even match a simple pitch at first, over time can master this and become a confident singer able to accurately produce a beautiful melody. Of course, most singers don't come to me with just the goal of being able to match pitches. Instead they usually have a very specific goal. Sometimes these goals are quite lofty, other times they are simple. I do not screen my students. I simply work within their stated goals. If someone wants to be the next American Idol, then that is the direction we move. If someone wants to just get confident enough to join their church choir, then that is the way we head.
Most voice teachers teach only classical music. I do teach classical styles to those desiring that kind of focus, but I also work well with a wide variety of musicians. I have taught pop and country artists, singers in a rock band, opera singers, broadway/theatre singers, jazz singers and contemporary Christian artists and worship leaders. I will work with what ever style of music the singer wishes to try. My goal is to help them sing what they want, as well as possible. It is true that not every voice is suited for every style of song, but it is also true that what a person loves, they usually sing well.
There are voice teachers and there are vocal coaches. Most people who call themselves voice teachers are actually vocal coaches. Vocal coaches help singers polish up songs and add stylings to certain types of music. A true voice teacher is concerned with helping the singer fix vocal problems, master basic singing techniques, and to get the voice sounding powerful, clear, relaxed, and beautiful. I am a voice teacher. Of course there are parts of lessons where I focus on helping a person polish up a song, but my overall goal is to help the student sing their best.
To me, a voice teacher is like a medical doctor. You go to a doctor and they ask you questions about what is wrong, maybe run some tests, then prescribe a solution. They don't always get it right the first time and later have to go back and prescribe a different course of action. Now I promise I will never give you a shot, but much like a doctor, I listen and observe how a student sings, ask them questions, and identify what might be going wrong in the voice. I prescribe a solution, which usually works. If it doesn't help, then I investigate further and make a new suggestion.
However, a voice teacher is much more than a doctor of the voice. I believe I am also a coach who tries to identify and cultivate special talent. Sometimes it might be as simple as hearing that one special note a singer has that sounds way better than anything else they do. I get in there and figure out why it is so good, and help the singer incorporate it into the rest of their voice.
As a voice teacher, I also find myself being counselor of sorts. There are many issues around singing that involve attitude, confidence, stage fright, vulnerability, focus, and mental stamina. These emotional issues must be addressed gently over time for a singer to have the hope of doing their best in front of an audience.