How Long Does Vocal Training Take?
The one question that wins out as the most frequently asked question of all is “How long will these lessons take before I can sing well?” My answer is always the same: “I have absolutely no idea.” Success in vocal training really depends on several factors, including: a) the student’s inherent talent b) how well and often they practice; c) how deeply set their current vocal habits are, d) how important it really is to them, etc.
The only thing a voice teacher can actually offer a student is to give the student a solid framework for training themselves to acquire skills in operating their vocal mechanism as efficiently as possible, as well as musical knowledge and artistic understanding and appreciation of singing and performing. What cannot be taught by a teacher is inherent facility and talent. The good news is that, regardless of inherent talent, anyone can improve and get better at singing.
What matters most in becoming skillful at singing, is that the student trains with a qualified teacher, that they practice every day, and that they practice mindfully. I always recommend that a student who is serious about quickly eliminating faulty singing habits abstain from singing along to the radio, CDs and MP3s for a while at least. Remember, what you are training here are habits. If you practice your vocal exercises for 20 minutes each day but sing poorly along to the radio for 4 hours a day, which set of habits will win out?
A good singer is both an artist and an athlete. They spend a good deal of time training and singing scales, practicing phrasing, analyzing lyrics and finding a balance between a solid vocal line, phrasing and the emotional distillation of the pieces of music that they interpret. Singing is an art, a skill and a physical discipline. Just like any artist or athlete, a good singer never stops training.
In popular music, there is room for many different types of voices. Consider how different each of these artists are: Keli O’Hara, Lady Gaga, Michael MacDonald, Arianna Grande, Hayley Williams, Josh Groban, Maureen McGovern and Ann Wilson. They each have demanding performing schedules, and regardless of the vast difference in the styles of their singing, they each have acquired skills in addition to talent. Each of them has trained hard and continues to train, and will probably train for the rest of their careers.
The answer to the question, “How long does vocal training take?” is that it takes forever. Art has no end. There are no perfect singers. All excellent singers keep improving and keep training. And that’s a good thing!