Learning to sing is a journey of both vocal and personal development.  

James with students at the University of Alabama.

James with students at the University of Alabama.

Singing is more than just making beautiful sound: it is communicating a message, given by the composer, with the singer’s own, personal imprint. My mantra is this:  Make the audience come to you. You are the magnet, the audience is that which is drawn to the magnet.  Never reverse your role.

Students all have different reasons for singing:  some to pursue careers as performers or teachers, or enhance existing careers, some just for fun, or some for self-confidence.  Whatever the reason, I facilitate and aid the singer in that process. 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 and grow in all of these aspects and to look at the whole person and student, voice, mind, body, learning style, vocal history, goals, age, musical style, etc.

I teach many styles of music to students of all ages, and I am the only teacher in Virginia who teaches Bel Canto Belt for Musical Theatre. In addition to vocal technique, I teach performance skills, how to communicate with an audience, how to collaborate with an accompanist, and how to set and work toward personal and/or professional goals.

Voice training must start with technical development. It is crucial to build a trust with students which allows for the discovery of their unique voice—a voice without manipulations or manifestations but rather a development of their natural instrument. My teaching is based on solid scientific knowledge of the physiology, anatomy, and acoustics of the singing voice. I suggest ways to practice and incorporate technical skills into both performance and daily life. As a student’s technique becomes stronger, it is my role to help the singer find the artistry in the music. Technical training is not the end goal— but rather a pathway to get to the art of singing and communicating.

I also believe, quite strongly, that voice students should spend time learning and perfecting various theatrical monologues, especially Shakespeare.  As I said prior, a singer is not just about the voice, but the delivery of text, emotion, and ideas.  When you can make spoken dialogue musical, you have an added weapon for your artistic arsenal.

Each singer is unique and brings into the studio vocal skills and understanding gained from his or her own experience into the studio. It is equally important that I understand the singer’s vocal goals and that the singer understands my impressions of and suggestions for their voice. I want each student to feel free to ask any question related to our work. Since I consider this work collaborative, I expect both myself and the student to give 100%.

The relationship between teacher and student is a partnership-one where the student/singer is given personal space and the opportunity to develop trust and confidence. I try to be positive, kind, honest, optimistic, and supportive. When I am honest and authentic with a student, trust develops and growth follows. I consider it an honor to be part of a student’s journey.

~James Taylor