It’s never too late to sing, but the youngest I have taught has been 5 years and the oldest at 73. For young singers, motivation and focus is key. If a 5-year-old has good focus and maturity, there are considerations. Ultimately, learning a skill takes time, energy, and commitment. The best singers, no matter the age, are open to learning and feedback, are willing to experiment with their voices, and stay patient in the process.
The training is part of conditioning the voice to do the right things, or the right habits, that mirror the “feel” and the world of great singing. Most singers come in with limited range, a tendency to strain or lose control, get “airy”, or carry a feeling of uncertainty and doubt through parts of their range. Singing a song over and over without isolating the “problems” or “issues” of the singer only reinforces bad habits.
“Vocalizing” or using specific exercises to train the voice will condition a singer to practice fundamentally good habits that allow more freedom of the voice without triggering the wrong muscles. As the vocalizing improves, as one eliminates bad or unhealthy habits in his approach, singing is enhanced as well. You will in essence “re-train” your voice with the right habits that will impact your singing.
There are different variables to consider: the natural or inherent ability of the singer, the singer’s background and history in music, the singer’s commitment to practice using the proper training method, and the “extra” work that benefits a singer in the long-run: persistence, openness to challenge and stretching his or her limits, and just having fun and being patient in the learning. Results will come. The question is: how well do you want to sing?
Cat never recommend last-minute approaches. Consider Olympic athletes who need to make a spot on the national team: they train and diet months ahead AND work with a mentor/coach. For singers, it’s not that different, but can depend on:
- your current ability (or natural talent already present)
- the difficulty of the piece
- other criteria you must meet (demo deadlines, secondary skills needed for auditions like dancing or acting)
- competitive level of event (if it is a contest)
- “YOU”, your personality, clarity of purpose, and work ethic.
If you’ve been out of practice, come in sooner than you think because most clients underestimate the time it takes.
For example, if you are thinking of doing an audition, a minimum of 4-6 weeks of weekly sessions is ideal. If you are semi-rehearsed but have less time, 2x-a-week sessions would work with consistency. It feels like boot camp but can be highly effective. If you have a competition or singing is a requirement, you may have to double up your sessions if time is scarce. If you are going to record original songs (or covers), a minimum of 2 months would be smart to prep your voice.
Cat advocates clients research their alternatives thoroughly. Here are tips:
- Book a session! Taking an actual lesson will give you the highest return of investment in evaluating teaching style, methodology, knowledge, and general approach to clients. If you or your child benefit, you’ll come back.
- Evaluate chemistry in the interaction. Find what works for you or your child. Is there a connection? Are your needs being met? Does he or she truly listen and offer solutions? Does the instructor challenge or inspire you to greater achievement and enjoyment? A good voice teacher listens more and responds to your needs, not the voice teacher’s agenda.
- Get referrals. Word-of-mouth can be golden. Clients should ask their network of friends, parents, or colleagues. Would they recommend Cat Wong Studio?
- Request to observe a session. Upon request, you can ask Cat to observe another client “real-time” with his or her consent, allowing 10-15 minutes on a scheduled day.
- Trust your instinct. Most people know instantly the studio will work or not. Price or location should not be the sole determining factors. Seek the most productive, inspiring, and enjoyable learning environment. The studio has taken on clients travelling on business or pleasure from Japan, Canada, Australia, Maui or locally as far as the North Shore, so distance is less of a concern if value and results are there. Make wise choices and invest well. For many professional services, you get what you pay for.
Private sessions are in-person or via Skype (internet). On occasion, Cat is requested to go off-site to teach a workshop, coach a client in a studio recording session, or evaluate a performance. (additional fees apply*)