I often get asked whether students learn to sing better in a group environment or a private one. Many voice teachers would unhesitatingly say that private lessons are more effective, and in many ways there’s truth to that, but the answer isn’t quite that simple.
What Are Private Voice Lessons Better For?
For a personalized approach to singing lessons, nothing beats private lessons. A teacher can listen to your voice and tailor vocal exercises, technique advice, and song selection to your own unique ability and set of interests. If your voice doesn’t have enough brightness, your teacher can give you vocal exercises and vowel modifications that will help you develop some twang. If you have trouble finding your head voice, your teacher can spend the bulk of the class working with you on this topic alone.
Private voice lessons also free you up to make your own stylistic choices. If you want to concentrate solely on improving the songs you’re recording for your first EP, you are free to spend your whole lesson working on this material. If you want to develop audition repertoire to help you at musical theatre auditions, you can spend your time perfecting a collection of Broadway songs. If you have a college audition and need to learn two contrasting classical pieces, you can spend your lesson time having your teacher help you select and learn these pieces. You get the idea.
What Are Group Vocal Lessons Better For?
So with that being said, why on earth would you want to take group vocal lessons? Group lesson can help you in ways that private voice lessons can’t.
Learning to Blend Your Voice
Learning to blend your voice with other singers’ voices is a skill that you can only develop in a group environment. It’s incredibly important if you’re ever going to sing in a chorus, a musical, or any other group.
Learning Harmonies or Counterpoint
It’s another important skill that’s harder to learn in private lessons. Sure, your private voice teacher can harmonize with you, but anything more than two-part is much easier to learn in a group.
You can certainly learn timing in private voice lessons, but there’s more of a tangibility to it in a group vocal class. If you’re off in private lessons, your teacher can usually just adjust the accompaniment and find you. In group lessons, you need to learn to keep time with a group.
Learning Performance Technique
Performance technique is a skill in and of itself. No matter how great a singer you are, getting up in front of other people is a different beast. Your private vocal coach can work with you on how to present your song in front of an audience, but the only way to get really comfortable with singing in front of an audience is singing in front of an audience. In a group vocal class, you’ll have the chance to get some of those performance nerves out by singing in front of others.
Learning New Songs and Styles You May Not Have Considered
In private voice lessons, you and your teacher may have some repertoire ideas. But in a group class in which everyone has his or her own unique taste in music, you’ll learn new music other kids are singing are get ideas from them.
So Are Group Vocal Lessons or Private Voice Lessons More Effective?
The answer is, it completely depends. For individualized vocal technique and repertoire, nothing beats private voice lessons. For learning to sing with and perform in front of others, group lessons are the way to go. Ideally, you’d do a combination of group vocal activities and private voice lessons so that you get the best of both worlds.