About a year after I first played guitar I started taking singing lessons. The motivation: I often sang while playing guitar, sometimes in public, and I felt that my singing was below average (I’m not being modest, read on). People who had no experience with music sang way better than I did. I was motivated to improve my singing so I could feel more comfortable singing in public.
I found a phone number of a singing teacher on a tear-off street flyer, so I called and offered to make a website for her in exchange for voice lessons. It was a great deal, but she didn’t want a website. It took four more months until I decided that learning to sing was worth my money and I called her again.
My first singing teacher
So I started taking lessons with this teacher, let’s call her Stacy. She was very holistic, and her instructions were full of metaphors which for me were pretty vague. Whether I succeeded in hitting a note or not felt random to me. Every time we met for class we worked on a random piece of music – ancient Italian opera, a jazz piece, music from the 50’s, and more – part of her agenda was to expose me to new styles. The process felt as if it was lacking structure, and I figured that’s how singing lessons went.
She was very friendly and often offered me to hang out for beer at her place after the lesson. She pushed me to go and perform in an open mic session, where I met two of her students who later became my band mates and good friends. Shortly after we started playing music together, one of the guys from the band became my boyfriend. So overall little structure but a lot of sex, love and rock n’ roll.
6 months in, and my singing still sucks
A few months later I joined a songwriting course. Every week we had to write a song and perform it in front of the class. Then the teacher and the other students would comment and give pointers for improvement.
Right from the get-go I was getting comments on my poor technical ability. My guitar-playing sucked and my voice sucked, so a typical comment was: “you need to improve your technique so you can let more of the artist out.” I was creative, my songs were good, but I was in no condition to perform them.
One time the teacher took me for a side talk and said: “I don’t mean to undermine your singing teacher,but I will be honest with you – you don’t sound like you’ve been taking lessons for 6 months.” I wasn’t surprised. Then she added, “I will give you a free singing lesson with a teacher who works here, let’s see if you can get some pointers to improve your singing.“
Finally – some structure
So I took the free lesson, and was quite surprised. This was not the kind of singing lesson I was used to. The teacher, let’s call him Adrian, taught according to the CVT method, a very technical method developed by Cathrine Sadolin of Denmark (more about CVT in another post). All of the sudden there was a method, there was structure, there was measurement. There was an actual book, with pictures, with exercises, with a methodology that kind of made sense. Even though CVT is not science like say chemistry, in vocal training it is as close as it gets.
It didn’t make singing easier; it gave me a method to follow and gauge progress. No more shooting in the dark and trying to understand holistic metaphors. I was so excited that I bought the book after class and read it from beginning to end.
Shortly after I was introduced to CVT, I left Stacy, even though I loved her and she brought many positive things into my life. I wanted to save money and I felt that I could progress with the CVT book on my own and take occasional lessons with Adrian. Love and business, or love and singing, should be kept apart.
I took classes with Adrian once every 3 weeks until his band went on tour and he stopped teaching. A year later when I decided to go back to singing lessons, I looked for another CVT certified teacher. These days I take a lesson once a month, but I practice daily, and because I have a methodology I feel that I’m on the right path.