What to look for…
For many trans people, transformation of the voice is a crucial element to affirming their inner gender identity. This process sometimes includes vocal surgery, hormone therapy, and most likely voice training. While vocal surgery and hormone therapy can produce positive results for many trans people, voice training is often incorporated to complete their desired transformation. Some people may even choose to use voice training alone as the singular method for their vocal development.
Trans voice training is a powerful tool that allows individuals to explore the possibilities of their voice. The vocal instrument covers a vast and colorful gender spectrum, in which there are endless opportunities for expression. Under the guidance of a trusted teacher, individuals can discover their own unique voice, and with dedication and consistent practice, can learn to strengthen and eventually fully integrate it into their daily life. Here’s what to know about transsexual teacher & coaches. What to look for, and what to wary of!
How to find a teacher who is right for you
A simple web search can instantly give you a list of trans voice instructors to consider. And thanks to developments in online learning, you now have access to instructors across the globe! However, simply listing oneself as a trans voice instructor does not mean that the person is a qualified or effective teacher. The field of trans voice is a highly specific and technical method of voice training, and some teachers may not up to snuff. So how do we make the right choice? How do we find the right instructor? Well first off, take your time! Many teachers will provide a bio of their work, and a summery of how they like to teach. Reading these carefully may give you a “gut” instinct on whether or not their teaching personality appeals to you. It’s a great sign if a teacher offers audio or video examples of past or current students. These will give you an idea of the results you can achieve by working with them. Some additional questions to consider are:
- How many years of experience does the teacher have?
- How long have they been teaching in the field of trans voice specifically?
- Did they study voice work or music at a collegiate level?
- Do they have any real world experience as a performer, or public speaker?
- Are they part of a school or teaching institution?
How to assess the first lesson
As you embark on your journey into voice training, remember that you have the power to choose what is right for you, at any time. That means that you can change your mind and stop working with someone if you are not happy with your lessons. Your first lesson with a teacher is your opportunity to assess if their personality and teaching method is right for you. Here are some things to consider:
- A good teacher will be able to quickly assess your voice and give you feedback on where you’re at. They can also clearly describe the steps they intend to use in order to move you forward. Did this happen in your lesson? If not, ask about it!
- How did you like their teaching process? Was the teacher able to explain concepts in a way that was clear? After listening to the explanation, were you able to produce the desired sound?
- At the end of the lesson, did they give you clear instructions on what you should practice outside of the lesson?
Above all, trust your intuition, and don’t feel bad about pulling the plug if you don’t like the teaching method. You may not find the right instructor on the first try. Having said that, make sure that you have your expectations in check. It will take time to see the results you’re looking for. In addition, be honest with yourself about how much time you are putting into your practice outside of the lesson. Students who don’t practice will not see results, no matter how fantastic the instructor is.
Every teacher has a unique style and process, however there are some red flags to watch out for.
- Misuse of lesson time: Time is misused if the teacher talks extensively off topic, answers a phone call during the lesson (eeeek!), or does not use the full lesson time allotted to you.
- Consistently unclear or ambiguous direction: Sometimes a teacher will attempt to explain a difficult concept and you won’t understand it right away. A good teacher will be able to pivot and explain it in a different way that makes more sense to you. Being able to do this demonstrates the depth of the teacher’s knowledge, as well as their ability to teach effectively. If you don’t understand your teacher, ask them to elaborate. If you’re still consistently not able to understand them, it may be time to look elsewhere.
- Pain: This is the ultimate red flag! A good instructor will always make healthy vocal development their chief objective. A healthy voice will always be more authentic, comfortable, and more unique than an unhealthy voice. A good instructor will know this, and will be willing to take the time and care needed to move your voice forward in a healthy manner. If an instructor is repeatedly telling you to perform a task that is painful, don’t ignore the pain! Tell them immediately that you are experiencing discomfort. They may have a very good explanation. For example, a process such as lowering the larynx can sometimes be momentarily uncomfortable. Little blips of discomfort like this are normal. However, if a teacher encourages you to repeat an exercise, or sustain a speaking voice that is constantly painful, that is cause for concern.
Trusting your teacher
Vocal training requires us to go beyond our comfort zone. We often make silly and strange sounds to unlock new parts of the voice. It can be a disarming, and sometimes emotional process. Having trust in your teacher is vital to your success, because in many ways, you’re about to go down the rabbit hole! Everything is going to be strange, exciting, and new, and your teacher is there to guide you successfully out the other side. Taking the time to properly select your teacher will mean that you have a guide who is invested in your best interest, AND that they have the skill and experience necessary to help you achieve success.