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How Important are Private lessons?

barrowemma03barrowemma03 1 replies2 threads New Member
I want to audition for music school but I have never taken private voice lessons. I've been in choir and studied music for almost five years, so I have rather extensive musical knowledge despite this. Do I still have a chance?
16 replies
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Replies to: How Important are Private lessons?

  • compmomcompmom 11767 replies81 threads Senior Member
    Other people with knowledge of voice programs can answer this, perhaps with a little more information.

    I just want to suggest that you read the Double Degree Dilemma posted closer to the top of this forum. It is really about different ways to study music.

    If you want a BM degree, which is 2/3-3/4 classes in music, generally there is an audition (there are exceptions to every rule).

    If you consider a BA in music, with lessons and extracurricular performance along with classes in music history, theory, ethnomusicology, composition, possibly some performance component for credit, you generally would not have to audition. Your would have 1/4-1/3 classes in music along with gen eds and electives. You could submit a music supplement with recording, music resume and letter from your director if your talent justifies it.

    Other options are double degree, double major and major/minor. Some even major in something else besides music and do lessons and extracurricular performance.

    Just wanted you to see the overall landscape of choices. Others will chime in with more specifics to your situation.
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  • murray93murray93 257 replies25 threads Junior Member
    My comments are related to instrumental majors, but hopefully there are some similarities here.

    We live in a very rural area and have extremely limited access to private lessons. Most kids just do what they can on their own. We do have an excellent public school music program, though.

    In the past few years, our high school has sent multiple music students to UT, Texas State, and UNT. One kid we know visited/interviewed at Julliard (not sure if he applied), and they said he’d fit in with the other musicians. None of them had private lessons (maybe a couple one-offs at the most) as far as I’m aware.

    My daughter is going to a LAC with a conservatory next year, and was accepted into all of the specific majors — BA, education, and performance — she hasn’t decided yet. They asked in her audition if she takes private lessons and when she said no, not regularly, they seemed impressed and not put off at all. She got one of the highest scholarships available. I am so excited to see where she is going to be after getting focused instruction and being challenged by peers! She’s going to have a great year.

    Don’t let the lack of private instruction deter you.
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  • momhsc2momhsc2 21 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited May 12
    Yes! You have a chance.

    The vast majority of student applying to voice performance programs have had years of voice lessons, but not all. My daughter took just 1 1/2 years of private classical voice prior to college auditions and only applied to a lessor known program because she felt she needed the time to catch up with her peers during her undergraduate years. The advantage was that, as a big fish in a small pond, she had a lot attention and opportunities. And she worked hard for that. Her strategy was successful as she was accepted into some top tier programs for graduate school.

    If you can, begin privates lessons now. A good teacher will be able to help you select the right material for your voice and ability and prepare you for your auditions. One huge audition mistake is selecting material that is above your technical level - this will often disqualify you.

    Although it would be fine for you to apply to the top tier schools, make sure that you also apply to some safety schools. At this point in your development a good studio is more important than the school itself. There are many excellent voice teachers in the lessor know schools.

    Another option to consider would be a gap year. You could use that time to work under a private teacher to develop your potential.
    edited May 12
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  • compmomcompmom 11767 replies81 threads Senior Member
    If you live in a rural area, virtual lessons are a possibility. In fact, due to COVID, most students are taking lessons that way. I think lessons are helpful in the last year or two of high school, and the teacher can be helpful with repertoire, program choices, and certain aspects of applying.
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  • songbirdmamasongbirdmama 483 replies23 threads Member
    My concern with not having a private instructor would be in preparing prescreens and auditions, which will require art songs in Italian and probably French. You may feel capable to learn these pieces without a teacher, but it would be helpful to have guidance in choice of repertoire (as mentioned by @compmom ) and learning diction and pronunciation. If you can manage to have the input of a good teacher, it would be to your benefit. It doesn't have to be rigorous or hugely time consuming. My D took lessons through 4 years of HS, but they were half an hour, every two weeks, until senior year, when they went to 45 minutes every week to get her ready for prescreens. It is VERY different to sing in a choir than to sing solo, though musicianship can develop in a choral setting. Best of luck.
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  • bridgenailbridgenail 1206 replies6 threads Senior Member
    Only one addition to the excellent responses above:

    You may not need a private teacher if the school is less selective and mainly has choirs. So it does depend on the school. You should check the program and repertoire requirments for your target schools. If you are looking at an LAC that has a few choirs and a BA in music...you may be fine. I live in an area with MANY Lutheran LAC schools that ALL have choirs. These are not the known, selective schools...but smaller programs. And, they are not trying to mold opera singers. But they want choirs and encourage music students.

    Still if you are targeting selective schools or even "nearly" selective schools (like your local public university), you should consider at least a few lessons with a private teacher. Many are teaching remotely now...and some are looking for business. You don't need years of lessons...but a few going forward could make a crucial difference if you are serious music student.

    Good luck.
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  • barrowemma03barrowemma03 1 replies2 threads New Member
    Thanks to everyone for the awesome advice! I'd like to also clarify that I am familiar with solo work and how it differentiates from group work, I just don't have access to a private instructor other than my choir director. She does help me with solos (we even have solo competitions and assignments regularly, so It's nothing new), but I was worried about not having someone who specializes in it.
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  • compmomcompmom 11767 replies81 threads Senior Member
    Are you considering a BM at a conservatory or school of music, or a BA at a university or liberal arts college? Or both?
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  • bridgenailbridgenail 1206 replies6 threads Senior Member
    edited May 12
    Maybe you can ask your choir director for her/his opinion. My D ‘s choir teacher had good advice and knew teachers at some good schools. She also knew private teachers. She/he will know you better than us...and may be able to help you with school choice and repertoire etc. I’m glad that you have a “music adult” to help you. Start with the choir director for advice on teachers.
    edited May 12
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  • SpiritManagerSpiritManager 2843 replies68 threads Senior Member
    They don't have vocal professors as far as I can tell - but for anyone looking for online lessons with some of the top instrumental performers in classical music - check out this global resource: https://online.aeyons.com/#artists. Musicians from all over the world - many principal players in world class orchestras.

    Not inexpensive but amazing access to phenomenal musicians/teachers.
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  • JeJeJeJeJeJe 307 replies1 threads Member
    SpiritManager—

    Thank you for the great site! Wow, I see amazing musicians in the list!
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  • JeJeJeJeJeJe 307 replies1 threads Member
    My son never had private lessons from high-class instrumental instructors, like musicians in the site SpiritManager shared with us because he was given a full scholarship on private lessons by a local youth program in under-served community from all middle school to high school years. Those instructors are local “middle-class” jazz-trained musicians.

    We could afford a few lessons from high-class instrumental instructors in his junior to senior years for him to get feedback, more prepared for college auditions and make a final school list. But he didn’t want to get any lessons, even “sample” lessons from any instructors at conservatories he applied to. He never believed that he needed any “special” lessons. I always thought that he could use a help from “special” lessons but I had no reasons to fight with him. However, most of his jazz friends had those “special” lessons, weekly or occasionally before college applications.

    During auditions for undergrad at “most” music schools, judges / panelists aren’t looking for “finished or polished” musicians but “talents” even it’s raw. They are looking for trainable (and new / original characters) and “good work ethic students”.

    But no lies here, auditions are the most important part to enter BM. That’s why I think that you could use a help from some private instructors now.

    Good luck!
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  • vamusicmom1vamusicmom1 3 replies0 threads New Member
    Long time lurker here- my daughter is graduating on Friday with VP from MSM. She teaches virtual voice lessons and successfully auditioned at 14 schools for undergrad and 2 for graduate school.

    Feel free to fill out her virtual lesson request on her website, I'm sure she'd be happy to help. https://www.elizabethperrysoprano.com/
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  • SpiritManagerSpiritManager 2843 replies68 threads Senior Member
    I should add that Aeyons is not just classical musicians - there are also world class jazz and contemporary performers offering lessons, as well.
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  • Pl1277Pl1277 45 replies4 threads Junior Member
    I would recommend investing in some.private lessons over the summer. I would talk to your choir teacher, maybe she gives lessons, or maybe she can recommend someone. If you're local to a college you may be able to find a staff member who gives private lessons.

    Your timing is actually good, as I think many are now using zoom. While it isn't ideal, it's still very effective. My daughter has been having Zoom lessons since all the closures. At first, she was hesitant but, it's actually worked out pretty well.

    I would say, you really aren't behind, per say. Many voice teachers don't start giving lessons until mid teens, especially Classical music. The benefit to lessons as @songbirdmama discussed, is help with languages, diction, resonance, repertoire etc. Most schools will want to see varied repertoire, sung well. You don't have to pick the hardest pieces, just something you're comfortable with, that's in a good range and shows off your strong points.

    Now, I've read here, and gotten the advice myself, that schools aren't looking for perfection. Especially when it comes to a young voice. High school seniors don't have a fully developed voice and so potential is part of what they look for.

    You seem to have a passion and a love of music. I really think if you take the next few months to get lessons, pick some audition repertoire and fine tune a few things, you will be moving in the right direction.

    Classical Singer is an online (and print) magazine that has been offering a lot of online master classes. You can sign up to even sing and be coached during the classes. They take place on Zoom and are kept on the page so you can access them even if you miss the live class.

    The last week of May, they are having their online convention/competition and May 25-May 29 they have Masterclasses almost every hour of the day. I think if you want to have unlimited access, it is $95. It may be a good idea to look into it. There's also a virtual College Fair.

    Here's a link

    https://www.csmusic.net/content/convention/

    Good luck!
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  • buoyantbuoyant 158 replies9 threads Junior Member
    @barrowemma03 Hi there - private voice lessons can be very helpful and it's not too late at all. A private teacher can help you try some different repertoire for your college auditions and see what fits your voice best. They can also give you some helpful advice with regard to correct, basic diction in the languages of classical singing. In conjunction with key support from your choir director, think of it as a team approach, this could be a rather effective way to help you get ready. Please check for a PM from me.
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