When you begin any new endeavor, be it personal or professional, you’ll want to find resources to help you embark on your journey. Teaching voice lessons for the first time is no different and fortunately, there are many resources out there to get you started.
There are a number of books you’ll want on your shelves as new voice teachers. Obviously, you’ll want some repertoire books so you’ll have music to assign your students, but you’ll also want reference books for yourself. While this list by no means covers all of the wonderful books on voice pedagogy and teaching voice lessons, we recommended these five books for new voice teachers specifically to get you started.
If you buy no other reference books for new voice teachers than this one, you’d be off to a great start. This compact book gives specific and detailed exercises for concrete technical problems in singing. James McKinney also lays out the process in which you, as a voice teacher, need to approach the technical problems of the voice. First, he highlights how to diagnose technical problems. Then, he dives into the basic foundations of singing, along with posture, breathing, and phonation. Finally, he digs into more complex or advanced matters like registration, resonance, and articulation. This book also comes with a companion CD to demonstrate what you are listening for in each technical vocal fault.
I constantly reference this book for my own students. It can either be read through in its entirety, or you can search through the index for specific vocal problems you need help diagnosing and correcting (hence the title).
I’ll be honest here – I wanted to recommend The Structure of Singing, but it seems to be out of print because the price is just too exuberant to recommend to new voice teachers. However, just about any Richard Miller book you can get your hands on will be of service to you, and Solutions for Singers seems to do the best job of encompassing all of Miller’s knowledge into one volume. Similar to the McKinney, Miller gives specific solutions to specific problems, though in this book he does so in a Q and A format.
This is a must have for new voice teachers looking to open up a private studio. While Joan Boytim does talk a little bit about the technical aspect of singing, this is primarily a book about the business of voice lessons. She talks about important factors like how to get your studio set up, marketing yourself to get new students, and keeping scheduling and financial records organized.
This book is great for the more scientific and studious voice teachers out there. Scott McCoy gives deep explanations of the acoustics and musculature of the voice, and explains how subtle coordination issues can affect the singing voice in significant ways. This book has a number of charts, diagrams, and even a disc that help you understand the science of the voice on a deeper level. For those who want to understand why a vowel can sound so different from one student to another, or want to be able to explain the exact muscular coordination of breathing, this is your book.
Although we, as voice teachers, are not speech pathologists or doctors of the voice, students often ask us about vocal health anyway. From health of the speaking voice to how certain conditions or medications may affect their study of singing, I find my students ask a number of health questions that I can’t always answer.
There’s where Dr. Anthony Jahn comes in. In this compilation, he gives information on any aspect of vocal health you could imagine from hormones to pregnancy to insomnia to allergies to medications and much more. If your student has any concerns about a health issue and their voice, or in reverse, if you have any concerns about the health of your student, this will get you started.
Of course, there are an endless number of books out there that can help you be a better voice teacher – these five are intended to get you started. Other books you might want to keep in mind to get you started will depend on what genres you primarily teach. Classical teachers will want some good diction books on hand to help their students sing in Italian, French, and German. Musical theater teachers may want a book such as So You Want to Sing Music Theater. If you’re a new teacher though, you might not know what else you need until you develop your studio further. In the meantime, we hope these five books for new voice teachers help you out.
What books do you recommend for new voice teachers? Leave your recommendation in the comments and we may add it to the list!
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