Frequently Asked Questions

“What kind of technique do you teach?”

The technique I teach is, at root, probably best described as a classic, Italianate vocal technique, which is to say it is based on proper use of the breath and is designed to make your voice as beautiful, strong and flexible as possible. But it is not strictly useful for classical singing; much to the contrary. It is the foundation for all good, effortless singing. For more information, see Voice Lessons.

“I’m worried I don’t have enough experience to study singing. Do you work with beginners? How do I know if I can study?”

Not everyone is meant to be a brilliant singer. But if you can breathe, speak and open your mouth, you can study singing. I work with people of all levels. And frankly, working with someone with zero experience just means we’ll be spending less time trying to erase old bad habits and more time building a solid foundation from the start. It's really not a question of can you study, but do you want to study?

“I really like the way I sing now… I just want to get some guidance with interpretation. Is that something you do?”

You bet. I see people all the time who just want to use me as a coach without addressing any kind of technical work. If that’s you, just say so. There’s certainly lots to do without involving pedagogy. That said, sometimes in doing coaching work, I find there's something missing technically that's standing in the way of your ability to make the artistic choices you'd like to be making. If so, we'll know soon enough. Then, if you wish, we can work on technique as well -- but that's up to you. My goals are your goals; no more, no less.

“What’s the difference between a voice teacher and a vocal coach – and which are you?”

Sometimes the terms “voice lessons” and “vocal coaching” are used interchangeably. However, I make the distinction between them because they are, in my opinion, two separate things. And yes, I do both.

Voice lessons are for learning the mechanics of singing, of which there are many. Voice lessons involve the transfer of information and the implementing of that information. Over time and with practice, voice lessons improve your voice’s overall sound, range, versatility, endurance and your ability to interpret music without any of these suffering.

Vocal coaching accepts, for the most part, that your vocal capabilities are what they are. In vocal coaching, we work with the voice and technique you already have to create more meaningful and communicative singing. This is where we address style, character, emotion and improvisation as is relevant to the music.

“I’m concerned if I study, I will lose my ‘natural sound’. What should I do?”

Find a teacher who is more interested in helping you reach your goals than they are in creating another clone who will sing a particular way. Yes, there is such a thing as over-training the voice if you are looking to be a pop singer or a folk singer or even a cabaret singer. Work with someone who knows the difference between building a classical sound and improving the quality of the natural sound. Neither is right or wrong; it's a matter of preference.

“How do I know if you’ll be a good fit for me?”

The same way you know if anything fits; try it on and see! I firmly believe that no matter how great something (or someone) is, we all have a “fit” to take into consideration. If there are specific questions or concerns you have before you’re ready to schedule a lesson, I’m more than happy to try to answer them. Send any question to me via e-mail or just send me your phone number via e-mail and I’ll be happy to speak with you in person about any questions or concerns you might have.

“Do I need to bring an accompanist to my lesson?”

The answer is “no” – I play piano quite well. I read accompaniments as well as charts and though I may never be confused with a concert or jazz pianist, I do very well with just about anything put in front of me. Of course if you have an accompanist you like to work with – especially as you are preparing for a performance – feel free to bring that person to your lesson, in which case you will have my undivided attention as teacher and coach.

“What age students you take? Might I be too young… or too old?”

Through the years I have had students range in age from 13 to 85. It is a rare person who is younger than 18 that is ready to take advantage of what I offer. And, in my experience, once someone is over the age of about 70, it is rare that their voice will do a significant amount of changing. That said, we are all different and all unique and we all have our own personal goals. If you’re wondering if you’re the exception, you might just be. If you’re wondering if I can help you either way, I’ll be happy to offer you my opinion after meeting with you once to assess your particular circumstance.

“How much are lessons and exactly where are you located?

My studio is on the north side of Chicago, offers plenty of free parking and is also accessible via various forms of public transportation. While I prefer to not publicize for the world wide web an exact address or my current rates, I will happily answer those questions in an e-mail. Just contact me through this site with any questions you may have and I'll be happy to answer them.

“Okay… I’ve decided to give you a try! How do we proceed?”

Drop me an e-mail and say so. At the same time, let me know what you’re looking for and when you’re available. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can and likely, will be able to schedule you at least once within a week or so, depending on your availability and mine.