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Q. What advice do you have for someone looking for a voice teacher?
A. If you want to understand healthy singing, I'm your woman. I don't teach repertoire and I'm not here just for fun. I don't offer services for young children: the study of singing healthily requires a level of communication and vocal maturity that materializes in the mid-teens.
Q. How do you do what you do?
A. Answer: hard work and loving it.
Q. What do I need to have thought through before starting lessons?
A. You need to be serious about singing, have goals that you want to meet.
Q. What makes you special as a voice teacher?
A. I trained classically for 10 years with high powered teachers that included Metropolitan Opera singers and students of the late, great Todd Duncan. None of them prepared me for singing day after day, week after week in difficult acoustic environments, and I strained my voice, necessitating a long, silent recovery time. Once I started recording, I learned a great deal about what goes on in the vocal instrument and sat down to completely restructure my approach to singing. The result is my teaching method: an ergonomic understanding of the instrument, with an emphasis on using the body's natural acoustics in conjunction with breathing techniques, relaxation and overall fitness. I'm also a mother and grandmother and have learned how best to draw out my students' strengths and interests.
Q. What do you like most about teaching?
A. My students!!! We always become friends because a successful teacher takes the time to learn so much about every one.
Q. Why do I need training? I don't want to sound like an opera singer.
A. You need training to sing healthily and as long as you live: as those who follow a healthy regimen live longer, so will you sing longer.
Q. Do you have a favorite story about teaching voice?
A. Every student I teach has eureka moments! Each one is different, each one is inspiring: learning how to find the head acoustic is the most exciting! I wish I had a video of every student's face during those epiphanies!
Q. What should a student know about professional singing?
A. It's hard, physical work that requires physical fitness and stamina.
Q. How did you decide to get into singing?
A. Singing chose me and I had to go along for the ride.
Q. What are your most common types of problems?
A. Remedial teaching for those who've misused their instrument, or have never learned how to use it in the first place.
Q. Do you do any sort of continuing education to stay on top of the latest developments in voice teaching?
A. If you sing professionally, you must either train or be trained. My own singing career and students keep me at my teaching peak.
Q. What are the latest developments in singing? Are there any exciting things coming in the next few years or decade that will change the way you teach?
A. Anyone considering a career of performing, from being a singer to a mime, will have to take the influence of technology into consideration. Learn to go with the flow and consider many avenues of education: business skills, marketing, using the mic/sound support available... No matter what, however, taking care of yourself, your instrument, must top your list of priorities.
Q. What is your most recent project, what did it how much it cost, and how long did it took.
A. IONA completed recording its 25th anniversary CD in 2011 and it's getting great critical reviews. It took 8 months and cost around $15,000.
Q. If you were advising someone who wanted to teach voice, what would you suggest?
A. Sing professionally for several years before you teach.
Copyright © 2011 Barbara Ryan