Why should I study with you over someone else?
You've just asked perhaps the most important question you can when deciding on a voice teacher. We all know the best singers, though their singing talents are obvious, aren't necessarily the best teachers. Here is what I have to offer:
1. Best reason - Though I know of a few others who use the technique, there are very few people I know of that teach the techniqe. (see the Links page for them). Brian Vollmer of Helix lives in London, Ontario. He is the ONLY person our instructor, Edward Johnson, EVER recommended whenever I asked him about taking on new students. Edward indicated to me over a year ago that I was ready to start teaching the technique, so I surely would have been on his recommended list too. Now that Edward is no longer with us, I am the only person in the whole Hamilton/Toronto/Golden Horseshoe area who teaches this technique the way it is supposed to be presented. Many say they teach and use BelCanto, but it is invariably a watered-down or modified version of it.
2. Because I started off as a terrible singer, I can easily relate to the struggles of a beginning singer at virtually any stage in their development. I know well what it is like to feel like the world's worst singer; to feel like singing is a nearly impossible task; to feel incapable and to lack confidence.
3. My ten years of studying with one of the world's greatest teachers (no, not an exaggeration... he has worked miracles) has provided me with a solid model from which to build my own instructional practice.
4. My fifteen-plus years of teaching everyone from Kindergarten to adult education in the public school system has equipped me to be able to teach virtually any kind of learner.
5. And yes, I can sing too. Samples can be found from the About Me page.
How do I do vibrato?
Now there is a tough question to answer in text form. If you are pushing your voice out, achieving vibrato is very difficult. If you are singing properly - with an open throat, focusing your notes in the right place in the mask of the face, and you have the inhalation of the voice down, then achieving vibrato is as easy as simply willing yourself to do so.
The trick, of course, is learning the technique!
How do I breathe with my diaphragm?
Easy diaphragm guide:
1. Yawn. Note the difference between how your body responds during yawning and when you breathe normally? You're using your diaphragm! The added bonus of this is that, when you yawn, your throat opens up and your uvula (the punching-bag-shaped thingy in the back of your throat) lifts up and out of the way - an ideal position for singing without strain.
2. Lay on your back and relax. Seriously... do it. Don't just say you did. Do it. Relaxed? Good. Notice that your chest doesn't rise as much as your lower abdomen? That's because you're using your diaphragm!
3. Now, considering those two above, stand up and poke your index finger at least an inch or so into your abdomen 3-4 inches below your sternum (breastbone). When you breathe in, you should feel your abdomen push your finger outwards as if you were poking a balloon in a similar fashion. Here is how to tell if you are cheating here in this step.... When you press your index finger in, does your abdomen bounce back like a balloon? If so, you're doing it right. If the resistance against your finger is such that it feels like you're pressing into something very solid, you're cheating by merely tightening up your stomach muscles.
Can I learn to sing on line, or through videos?
You can't really learn the technique without the guidance of an instructor who can provide one-to-one instruction and feedback.
You can learn to do all kinds of things from books and videos, but singing is two things that are hard to impart in any other format beyond private instruction.
1. Singing with proper technique involves learning how it "feels" - the physical sensation of singing properly. When you're doing it right, an instructor can provide you with instant feedback. When you've done it correctly a number of times, you memorize that physical sensation of singing properly. Try to tell somebody how to yawn, for instance. Sure, they might open up their mouth really wide and make an "Awwwwhhhhmmmm" sound, but are they *really* yawning? Of course, not.
2. Singing is a physical skill, but you can't see the mechanism that you use to create your voice. You can read about guitar and learn where to put your fingers, but do you know how good your technique is without someone who knows watching you and providing feedback? Sure, you could read a book about swimming or driving a car or karate and have some vague sense of how it is supposed to go, but without someone who can see the bigger picture to guide you, the odds are significantly stacked against you.
Knowing you are singing correctly is indicated by a combination of tone, physical cues, and an awareness of what internal sensations are created. Only a live instructor can guide you through with any real level of success.
I’m tone-deaf and have the worst voice in the world. Is there hope for me?
Chances are, you aren't really tone deaf. If you can tell the difference between Whitney Houston and Luciano Pavarotti, then you're not tone deaf. You might not have a great ear, but the good news is that the better you sing, the better your ear gets, and the better your ear gets, the better you sing, etc.
If you read my short bio, you'll find that I was a terrible singer. Very terrible. If I can learn to sing, anyone can learn to sing! Having been of the mind-set of "I have the worst voice in the world," I know well what that feels like and can relate very well to it in order to help you overcome it. Don't worry... it'll take time, as it did for me, but you CAN get there!