Frequently Asked Questions
HOW DO I KNOW THE STUDIO IS THE RIGHT PLACE FOR ME (OR MY CHILD) ?
Cat advocates clients to research their alternatives thoroughly. Here are tips:
1. Book a session! Taking an actual lesson will give you the highest return in evaluating teaching style, methodology, knowledge, and general approach to clients. If you or your child benefit, you'll come back.
2. 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? It's no different than seeking the right doctor, dentist or hair stylist. You want trust, expertise, capability, and a level of comfortability over the long term.
3. Get referrals. Word-of-mouth can be golden. Clients should ask their network of friends, parents, or colleagues who they know or have heard of who can deliver quality service. Would they recommend Cat Wong Studio?
4. Request to observe a session. Some clients don't know a soul who has taken vocal lessons or where to begin. 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.
5. Trust your instinct. Most people know instantly the studio will work or it may take some time. 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. It's your voice, resources, and time!
I NEED TO PREPARE FOR AN AUDITION AND/OR COMPETITION. HOW EARLY MUST I TRAIN?
I never recommend last-minute procrastination 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
1) your current ability (or natural talent already present)
2) the difficulty of the piece
3) other criteria you must meet (demo deadlines, secondary skills needed for audition like dancing or acting)
4) competitive level of event
5) "YOU", your personality, clarity of purpose, and work ethic.
Are you slow & steady or can you get hyper-focused and intense in a short period? If you've been out of practice, come in sooner than you think because most clients underestimate the time it takes.
Set aside time to focus and prepare. For example, if you are thinking of doing an audition, a minimum of 2 months of weekly sessions is ideal, but if you are semi-rehearsed and disciplined, 4-6 weeks with consistent practice between vocal sessions is doable and you can increase the number of sessions in a week if things get tight. It feels like boot camp but can be highly effective, too. "You reap what you sow." Good or outstanding results follow excellent, thoughtful, disciplined preparation.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO IMPROVE THE VOICE?
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. In the world of mastery in a given field, it typically takes 10,000 hours of commitment to a skill or activity to be considered superior or world-class. With SLS, you can feel results within 2-3 months, but to sustain and become more fluid in singing may take much, much longer in order to feel "natural" at it. The question is: how well do you want to sing?
WHY DO SO MANY EXERCISES IN TRAINING? WHY NOT JUST SING SONGS?
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.
HOW YOUNG OR OLD CAN YOU BE TO START SINGING OR TAKING LESSONS?
It's never too late to sing, but the youngest I have taught has been 6 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.