Teaching Philosophy:


 

I teach because I have something to offer - not just how to sing, but how to collaborate with a pianist, how to grow performance skills, how to have goals and achieve them, responsibility, communication and other life experiences.  I can work with pretty much anyone of any age and personality on any style of music.   To be a successful teacher, you must be a leader, a mentor, a friend and an expert.  Teaching and music is my calling.  I wouldn't dream of doing anything else. People develop a trust in who I am, in what I say, and who I associate with.  They also trust that I am treating them fairly.
 

My teaching style is well-rounded: exploring vocal technique, artistry, musicality, and personal development.  My responsibility as a voice teacher is to help a student progress/grow in all of these aspects and to look at the whole person/student -  voice, mind, body, feeling, learning style, vocal history, goals, age, musical styles, and intellect, etc.
Students all have different reasons for singing:  some to have careers as performers or teachers, some just for fun, some for vocal therapy, or some for self confidence.  Whatever the reason, I facilitate and aid the singer in that process.

 

Voice training  must start with technical development. While every voice is unique, the foundation of the vocal technique which I teach is the same for all singers and all styles.  My teaching is based on solid scientific knowledge of the physiology, anatomy and acoustics of the singing voice.
 

All of the technical things we do and talk about in lessons are not the end goal - but a way to get to the art of singing and communicating and freeing speech and dialogue.  I suggest ways to practice and incorporate technical skills into music and performance and life.
 

The relationship between teacher and student is a partnership where the student/singer is given personal space and the opportunity to develop trust and confidence.  When I am honest and authentic with a student, trust develops and growth follows.
 

I try to be positive, kind, honest, optimistic, and supportive.  The student and I are partners on a journey that could and should be lifelong.  And it is so cool to be part of that journey and person’s life.
 

Everyone who has a desire to sing deserves the opportunity to learn to sing well.



Vocal Lessons versus Vocal Coaching versus Accompanist/Coach: Is there a difference?  Do they overlap?

Few people agree on the exact definition of these terms, but there is a difference.  Technical training (lessons) and Voice Coaching are specialty fields that overlap.

  • A technical teacher (vocal lessons) should be able to teach singing and physical techniques to help any singer learn to sing in a healthy manner.
  • A vocal coach assumes the technical skills have already been mastered for particular songs and their emphasis is on repertoire, language, style and presentation.​​
  • Accompanist/Coaches are pianists who have accompanied many singers and are familiar with an incredibly wide repertoire.  They rehearse with advanced singers, suggest performance and competition repertoire for individuals and comment on interpretation, ornaments and historical or other appropriate styles.

Which one am I (Melody Wallace)? 
I am all of the aboveFew technical teachers play piano at a level to accompany their students.  Few vocal coaches and accompanists have the technical skill to teach singers how to sing.  I have both.  I get to teach you how to sing as well as address aspects of artistry and repertoire.  It is possible for me to work technically with singers from all different backgrounds, interests, and singing goals in all styles of music.


I am comfortable coaching/teaching all styles – from opera, music theater, church music, art song, contemporary, to pop.

 

What should the student expect in a voice lesson?  How often should the student have a lesson?

Private lessons are one on one, individualized to your goals, and progress at your own pace.  Lessons are scheduled once a week usually for a half-hour to an hour.  More advanced students and those preparing for recitals, auditions, or performances may need additional lessons.  Regularity and consistence is very important.  In most lessons, you can expect to spend about half of the time warming up and practicing/learning technical exercises.  This includes vocal warm-ups, vocalises/exercises, coordination drills, and specific work on posture, breathing, and extension of range, blending registers, and other singing fundamentals.  The other half of each lesson will usually be spent working on music, showing how the technical skills fit into “real” music, and also working on presentation and interpretation.  You may also spend some time learning music skills such as note reading and rhythm.  The more you practice and learn between lessons, the more of your lesson time will be devoted to performing and polishing music.

You should tape or record your lesson, review that recording by taking notes, and use the recording as a practice aid.  Wallace Voice Studio, LLC has a quality tape recorder in its studio.  For each lesson, you should bring your music, a blank cassette tape (there is a quality tape recorder and microphone in the studio), a pencil and a note-pad for writing your voice technique exercises and assignments.  Bring questions and comments about your last lesson and your musical life to your lesson.

Plan on attending performance classes (included in your tuition) as often as possible.  More information below.

 

How long does it take to learn to sing well?

There is no easy answer to this question.  It depends on proper and smart practice from the student between private lessons, participation in performance opportunities, and personal awareness of your own body and technical skills.  If a voice has been misused, training will take longer than that of a healthy voice.  Usually between 4 – 6 months, students will see improvement and new habits forming.  It often takes a year or two for a practicing student to establish good habits and reliable technique.  Students who are serious study their whole life.

 

Do you teach classical music as well as how to sing Music Theater and other styles?  Will I learn to do both?

A good “classical” vocal technique will teach a singer how the voice works and how to find the most true, free and resonant tone of which a particular individual is capable of.  This approach to singing takes time to master.  This technique can be applied to any style of music.  Some choices are made to make the voice sound more “music theater” or “pop” but the underlying technique is the same.  Some of the best music theater singers at this time were trained “classically”.  They are able to maintain vocal health with a very demanding schedule.  Unfortunately, some singers who skip great vocal technique may damage their voice.

I’m very passionate about teaching.  I like to develop a relationship between teacher and student and am very interested in the success of each student.  I try to treat students as individual singers with individual vocal and other needs.  I deliver strong, clear and simple vocal concepts upon which a singer/student can build the skill of self-supervision or self-teaching.  My goal is to give a singer/student independence from me as a teacher.  A singer should not feel “lost” or incapable if the teacher is not at a performance or a rehearsal.  Singers should develop a sense of ownership to their voice.

 

Practicing:  how much? Where? How? What? etc.?

      Don’t be afraid to practice at home or a place where you feel free/safe to sing out and make mistakes even when family or friends are in the house.  This may be hard at first, but you will get used to it.  Your public performances will be greatly enhanced by feeling comfortable performing in front of others (especially peers and family.)

If you get unsolicited advice from family or friends, feel free to have them attend a lesson to see all that is involved.  As Paul McCready says, “the best way to beat the inaccurate stereotypes that surround the vocal art is by allowing the less informed to see that it is a tangible muscular process that can be improved greatly even for the singer who is not “born to sing.

You must find your best sound/vocal production on a daily basis to maintain and improve your vocal skills.

Singing at choir rehearsals or other musical rehearsals should not be considered practice.  These are beneficial to your development as a singer and musician but do not replace the time you should give yourself to take chances and make mistakes during your own private workout.  Choir and musical rehearsals give you an opportunity to “pay attention” to technical information and put that vocal technique into music.  

When practicing, do so slowly and give yourself the time to relax and focus before you start. Don’t rush!

Don’t try to imitate another singer’s voice.  Discover your own, unique vocal identity.

Listen to recordings and performances.  Go to the library and check out recordings that include many styles and artists.  You should hear examples of good vocal production in all styles of music.  You may find music that you would like to sing.  Bring suggestions to your lesson.

I will offer recommendations of specific amounts of time to practice per day, per week in private lessons. 
 

What exactly are Performance/Master Classes?

Performance classes help you learn to apply your vocal technique to varied music, develop stage skills, understand the importance of musical conventions to a satisfactory performance, get to hear your repertoire played by a professional accompanist, learn more about effective interaction with an accompanist, learn how to enhance the text of music through effective singing phonetics and emotion and become more audition-ready.  You get to perform your music in front of other singers and experience nerves, excitement, and how well prepared you are in a safe environment.    They may include technical (the “how to sing” part) information also.  By observing other students, you get the opportunity to hear and experience different levels of study, different styles of music and different reasons to sing.    Classes and recitals are wonderful because all students must deal with the same technical (the “how to sing”) and performance issues regarding singing no matter how new or advanced they are.  Frequently, realizations about one’s own vocal technique occur at these classes that could not be recreated in a private lesson.  These are usually scheduled on Saturday or Sunday. 


Recitals?

There are usually two to three scheduled recitals per year that students can participate in.