1 question I ask that loses me lots of potential students

Red light districtLike most vocal coaches, I get a lot of questions. And, understandably, when someone is considering booking vocal lessons with me they often ask questions about things they want to achieve as singers. But there’s one particular question that my answer to tends to lose me potential clients. Granted, I don’t get the question very often. But when I do the singer doesn’t tend to like my answer.

The question is “can you help me with my runs”, or “can you teach me how to do riffs?” While my answer to that question is seldom just a flat out “NO”, it’s definitely not usually a yes either. What gets me into trouble is when I start asking the person why they want to learn them and work on them. Why are they so important to you? Tough questions to answer when it’s put to you that way.
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How many lessons do I have to take?

My Fenway perpetual calendarHow Many Lessons Do I Have To Take?

One of the most asked questions I get when people are first inquiring about vocal lessons is how many do they need, or how long do they need to take lessons. Naturally it’s one I can’t answer, because everyone is different. Every voice is different. People learn at different rates. People have different goals. I could go on here, but you get the idea. So in this article I’ll try to give you some things to consider when you’re trying to figure out how much of an investment of your time and money you need to make to achieve your goals.
To really understand what it takes to make significant and permanent changes to one’s voice- the kind we all want, like improved range, breathing, control and power- one has to look at vocal training like any other kind of physical training. If, for example, you wanted to change your body-type, you would expect to work out and eat right until you get where you want. You wouldn’t expect your trainer to be able to tell you the date you would achieve your goals. That’s because in almost every area of life, when we want change we expect it to take a while. Permanent changes come only by un-learning old habits and beliefs. Re-training muscles, thought process, beliefs, habits.

Even something as simple and as natural as which hand you write with would become a challenge if you were suddenly asked to switch hands and start writing with the other one. You could manage it at first, but it would be awkward and uncoordinated for a while. Eventually though, if you kept at it and worked on it every day, you would eventually get as good at writing with the other hand as you are with your current writing hand.

What causes this change to take place is something called “muscle memory”. It’s something musicians who play physical instruments like guitar and keyboard or organ know very well. It’s that constant repitition of the same thing over and over until your mind, body, fingers or whatever else is involved in performing the task at hand starts to do it automatically. It’s what makes a typist blaze along at 80 wpm without ever looking at the keyboard.

It’s no different with the human voice. But because as a singer your whole body-not just your voice- is your instrument, there are many physical and mental things that must be re-learned before permanent change takes place. Think about it. Almost everyone that can sing was born with that ability. We’ve done it the same way all of our lives. So when you get to the point where you realize you need some training to achieve your goals, you can’t expect to re-learn things you’ve been doing all your life in one lesson.

A serious vocalist who has a strong desire to make some real changes that will stay with him for a lifetime goes into vocal training with a “long as it takes” mentality. Someone who is simply trying to get past a certain song, or prepare for an upcoming audition, may approach lessons with a “how soon can I get this done” mentality. It’s not because one is better than the other though. Both have different goals, that’s all. I’ve trained both types. I’ve trained people who had an audition or special occasion coming up and only had a week or so to prepare, so they wanted a lesson or two and that’s it.

I’ve also had clients who were trying to take their music ministry to another level and knew that they needed serious, on-going training to get there. I’ve had students work with me 2 years and I’ve had people take 1 lesson. So a great deal depends on what you’re trying to achieve. Ask yourself the following question:

1. What is my reason for taking lessons? What is my goal?

If you’re just trying to get ready for an audition or trying to perfect a certain song, you may need just a couple of sessions. Not everyone is looking for everything I mentioned at the beginning of the article. Some people just need some style coaching for a certain song they’re having trouble figuring out what to do with at certain points. You may only need one session for cases like that.

If you’re trying to improve your vocal range, stamina, power, breath control, etc, you should plan on taking lessons over a period of time to achieve any permanent results. Again, every voice and every person is different. But it’s been my experience that people don’t start to achieve that “muscle memory” type of change before about 3-6 months taking lessons weekly. I was just contacted yesterday by someone who has been studying for 7 years. He only stopped because he relocated, and now he’s looking to reconnect with a new vocal coach so he can start again.

Even after they stop though, most people revert back to old habits because they stop doing the vocal exercises and working on their voice regularly. So even after you’ve taken weekly lessons for a while (as long as it takes) I recommend setting up at minimum a monthly session to keep your voice in shape.

Even though it seems overwhelming in the beginning, try not to think about taking vocal lessons as “drudgery”. It’s only natural to think about the time investment and the money investment at first. But most people who are serious about their singing absolutely love their vocal lesson time. Many of my students hate to miss their session, and when the time comes where they have to stop for whatever reason, it’s often a sad time for both of us. Taking vocal lessons can be one of the hardest things to start, but once you make the commitment to do so it will likely be the hardest thing to stop as well.

One of the easiest, most convenient and inexpensive ways to get on-going vocal training-the kind that promotes permanent change- is to take an online course. I designed my own home study course to give you that 3-6 month stretch of training while giving you the tools you need to continue training your voice regularly even after you’re done with the course. Get started here.


High notes can be too much of a good thing (or bad thing)

High notes can be too much of a good thing (or bad thing)


Aaaahhh yes,The high notes. It’s the thing we all want more than anything else, isn’t it ? Certainly, extended range is really important for a singer to have. The more the better. The more notes you have access to the more versatile you are as a vocalist. It is indeed very, very important as a singer to be able to take your song to a climax by nailing that high note. And I mean really nailing it, not screaming it.But when it comes you your upper range, there is definitely truth in the phrase “too much of a good thing.” High notes are a lot like riffs and runs. They’re not easy to do, so people who find themselves blessed with that ability often to do way too much of it.
You’ve heard the singer who goes way up into the upper range for that high note, and you think “go head, SANG!!!” But then they spend the rest of the song up there and never really come back down (turn to yo neighbor and say ‘he right!’) Five minutes later all you want them to do is STOP singing.Why is that? Because like everything else in singing when it’s overdone, high notes become very tiring to the ears when given in massive doses for extended periods of time. After a while even the clearest highs will sound like not much more than yelling to the audience.

Highs, like riffs and runs, are most effective when they are used as exciting moments where you build your audience up into a frenzy. But you must also allow them to come back down. Otherwise high notes can very quickly become very monotonous for the listener if not tempered with lower register singing.

We’ve all had that instance where someone is talking to you, then their voice gradually starts to fade into the background noise. You don’t even realize you’re not listening anymore. The same thing happens in a way, when you stay in your upper register too long. For Gospel singers this tends to happen in the “vamp”, or “press” of the song. That’s when the singer goes to that high note and kinda sings everything on that note from that point on through to the end. Aside from getting monotonous to the listener, it’s also quite a strain on your voice.

Instead, try moving around a bit more in the press. Don’t go that high note and stay there. Use it more as an accent, making your delivery more like conversation.

Take Care!



Just launched: Free 5 day vocal training course!

GiftHey gang,

One of the things I’ve been praying about with my business and my ministry is to really get it out there on a bigger scale. Simply put, I just want to touch more people with the gifts and talents God has given me. I’ve come across many people in this line of work who are really serious, dedicated servants of God who want to give Him their best. But they didn’t have the money to take private vocal lessons with me. Still others have found me on YouTube, My Space and other online social gathering sites, and wished they could study with me.
Well I’m proud to announce that for the first time ever I’ve put together a free video vocal training course and I’m giving it away absolutely free. Free vocal lessons? You bet. These videos are high content videos which include things I teach in my private vocal coaching sessions. Early feedback on these lessons have been great, and I couldn’t be more excited. After all what good are any of our gifts if we don’t, every now and then, simply give it away without cost? I don’t know about you, but I feel most fulfilled when I know I’m really walking in my calling and it’s blessing people.

This course, in addition to being free so anyone can have lessons, this course will afford me the opportunity to bless people all over the nation through the videos in this free course.

You can get your free vocal lessons by going on over to the home page and fill out the form. And be sure to tell as many of your friends and loved ones about it as possible.

See you then.


3 most popular ways to take vocal lessons reviewed:

3 most popular ways to take vocal lessons reviewed:


The 21st Century is upon us, and with all it’s new technology the world is getting smaller and smaller. Gone are the days when your choices for taking singing lessons were limited to your local area. Now if you see a vocal coach you really like and feel a connection with, you can study with him no matter where in the world he’s located. Today I’ll take a look at the pros and cons of the top 3 ways vocal coaches are offering private voice lessons.



1. One-On-One Voice Lessons In Person:

Pros- Still the most effective, most personal and most interactive method in my opinion. You can see, hear and even feel things with the singer in person that you just can’t any other way.
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So you want a full time music ministry? 2 things you’d better learn quick

So you want a full time music ministry? 2 things you’d better learn quick

You’re passionate about your gift. Nothing makes you feel like ministering to God’s people in song. You feel like it’s what you were placed on this earth to do. And you believe that God wants you to do it full time. Sound about right? You’re not alone. There must be thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people just like you. And yet dispite being incredibly gifted and anointed, the vast majority of singers and musicians who have a dream to one day do it full time never achieve that goal.

There are many, many variables, reasons, obstacles that keep people from achieving this goal. I suspect there are as many of them as there are people. But two of them are so common that I believe they affect the vast majority of well-meaning talented believers. This blog isnt’ meant to be an exhaustive study on the subject, but I do want to touch on them both enough to perhaps make you think.
So let’s start with the obvious. In order for one to do anything full time one has to make a full time income from it. Which brings us to the first thing you MUST learn to do if you ever hope to be full time in your music ministry.

Charge a fee.

First of all, I already know every one of the 10 or 20 things that just ran through your mind when I said that. I know the culture in our churches and the unwillingness some people have to pay. I know that many people still see it as wrong for a believer to even ask. I’m not here to defend or debate any of that, only to point out a few things that I hope will give you a different perspective.

1. Love offerings does not a full time income make. You can’t live off love offerings. Besides, if we’re going to get technical here, love offerings are against the law last I heard. But that’s another subject.

2.If you believe God is calling you to full time ministry, then you must believe He has thousands of people earmarked for your gift to bless. If you believe that, then you have a moral obligation to charge for your services. As obvious as this may sound, if you don’t charge for your services you can never expect to grow your ministry past occasional engagements for love tokens. That means that you’ll never walk into what you believe God has called you to do.

Treat it like a business.

Another one sure to leave a bad taste in the mouths of many, but no less true. Contrary to popular belief, a ministry can be a business. And a successful one has to be. And any business owner will tell you that no business will ever be a success without investing money into it. You must invest first in yourself. Your craft. So that when you do charge you don’t have to do it in some shy, apologetic way. Every serious singer should be taking vocal lessons. Every serious musician should be constantly honing his craft.

But it goes way beyond that. Every business needs paying customers. And to get them the business owner must do marketing. I had to learn myself though, that marketing is a learned skill. Too many of us just throw ideas against the wall and see if anything sticks. I did it for years. But I finally had to realize that I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

When I set out to find that out, things started coming to me that seemed to be just what I need. I heard one business coach say “when the student is ready the teacher will appear”. And I certainly found that to be true.

Look, I know the thought of all this is overwhelming. It is for most believers who want to do something real with their ministry. To touch more lives on a bigger scale and still keep it all about God. After all, that’s the real reason most Christian artists avoid doing those two things, isn’t it? And that’s why many of us hesitate to ask for a fee or market ourselves. True enough, you can’t go out there as an unknown just starting out and expect to command a fee. You definitely will need to do many free engagements, participate in local events that invite local artists, build a reputation and a following.

But the first step to growth in your ministry is to get rid of the belief that it is somehow wrong for you to promote yourself and treat your ministry as a business. You need to understand that this is not only ok but something you MUST do in order to achieve your primary goal, which is to minister to God’s people on a bigger scale. If you really feel called to this then failing to do so is really depriving many people of your ministry that may have otherwise been touched by it.

Growth on that scale will come with operating costs that must be met regularly, or you can’t continue to minister. This simply can’t be done depending on the occasional love offering.

I won’t pretend the process is easy though. Or immediate. You’ll need to really do some research and learn a lot about marketing. You’ll need to be out there in front of people performing a lot more often; many times for free as you build a reputation and a following. You’ll need to find groups and organizations that help people like you with the process of growing their ministry.

But the first step to doing anything full time in ministry is to get rid of old beliefs we’ve all grown up hearing and accepting as truth. Ministry, in order to be effective and reach the masses, must incur expenses, and those expenses must be paid in order for you to continue to minister to more and more of God’s people. Ministry and business can and must co-exist.  And if you want to do ministry full time you’ll need to get very good at finding a healthy balance between both.