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Does it matter if someone's voice teacher is the same Gender?

Thanks to all who sent their thoughtful replies to the question,which was:
Hello - I know many of you are singing teachers, as well as conductors. Is
anyone aware of articles or studies concerning whether male students are
better off with male teachers or female students are better off with female

I have taught voice privately and at Carleton University in Ottawa for
twenty- one years. I have not seen much of a difference in the final juries
between those students studying with a singing teacher of their same gender
and those that do not. I think that the biggest difference lies in the way
the student applies themselves to the knowledge offered to them. Personality
seems to be the single most deciding factor of applied knowledge.

There was a similar study done at McGill University in Montreal that was a
master's thesis for Elizabeth Ekholm and Joel ? (the name escapes me). The
questions pertained not only to the gender relationship but also to changes
in vocal production from choral to solo singing. If you would like
Elizabeth's email, I could write to her and ask her if she would like to
enter into your discussion.
. I am a male voice teacher, and most of my students happen to be female.
I have had a number of them who have had other male or female teachers.
There hasn't been any difficulty for me regarding the issue, but feel that
it would be profitable to hear what others have to say on the topic!
Ieva, what grade level are you talking about? Males should study with male
teachers when they begin serious voice lessons after their voices have
changed and they are ready to commit to the discipline of vocal training.
Prior to the voice change (due to maturing) young lads should be working
competent music teachers who will give them a complete fundamental musical
background. In fact, most boys should be studying piano, not voice. They
could participate in a children's chorus under a conductor who is trained in
working with both young female and boy's changing voices.
I'm not aware of any studies, but don't really need them. My experience has
taught me everything I need to know on the subject. I've studied voice for
20+ years. I'm a tenor and have sung professionally in opera, oratorio,
concert/recital, and off-Broadway, as well as taught voice.

The sex doesn't really matter, except perhaps for psychologically with a
student. I'm not discounting that perspective at all, as it IS important,
but what's most important is that the teacher have a solid understanding of
what a good and healthy technique is (including posture and breath support),
have an excellent understanding of the particular quirks or needs of each
voice type, an ear for determining what the problem is, and know how (or be
able to figure out how to correct the problem). It's also important that
they teach the right technique for you. Some teachers teach one technique
and try to shoehorn all singers into that technique. Others adjust their
techniques depending upon the needs of the student or upon the student's
voice type. As you may know, there are various schools of singing ("bel
canto," Germanic school, French school, verismo, English, etc.). Finding
the right style for one's voice is also very important.

In those 20+ years of study, I worked with 13 teachers regularly, and also
had single lessons with about 6 others. One of those teachers was a bass.
Three were baritones. Three were sopranos, and the rest were tenors (12).
The two best teachers I had in those 20+ years were the last two I had. One
was a tenor who had sung professionally in Europe for 15-20 years, and the
other was a soprano who had had a short and rising career here in the
states, but had a child, and no one took her seriously after that, so she
taught. She was the best by far.

I got a mixture of bits and pieces from most all of the rest, some were
worse than others. One of the worst I had was the renowned operatic tenor
Franco Corelli. It pains me to say that, but while it was a thrill for me
to meet and study with him, and he was very complimentary and supportive, he
was basically a natural singer and didn't have a very good understanding of
how he had sung so well himself. He actually taught me some vocal bad
habits rather than helping me. He was very expensive to boot! A couple of
the teachers were horrible.

Each voice type has it's quirks and differences, and sometimes it's hard for
another voice type, especially one of the opposite sex to grasp those
differences, but it doesn't mean that they can't or that someone of the
voice type does understand those quirks.

There's also the issue of jealousy, when one studies with a teacher of the
same voice type. I know that at least one of my teachers intentionally
sabotaged me. My voice was better than his and he was still singing and
trying to build his career. He saw me as major competition.
>From what I know, female students are especially more comfortable with
female teachers.
Singing is something where the teacher needs to touch the student in
numerous places. It is
like so for me at least. Female students may not be so comfortable with a
male teacher touching
them and pressing them all over. Just some thoughts...
In my experience it seems that it is the quality of the teaching, and not
the sex of the teacher, that bears successful singers. The student will
perform better if he/she is comfortable with the intructor and understands
(as well as apply) the particular teaching style of the instructor. A valid
exception would be if the student wants to study with a teacher of the exact
vocal fach (lyric baritone, dramatic soprano, etc.) as the student. Bottom
line: Good Teaching is Good Teaching!
Actually there is a difference of opinion on this, as you might expect. I
remember reading articles on this subject in the NATS Journal, so you might
check their archives on line.

I always feel better with women, since I have personally tried out every
vocal issue known to womankind and feel confident about working with any
woman who walks in the door. I can help most men, but since falsetto issues
and head tone issues are (at least to me) different than women, I must admit
to feeling slightly less confident. Sometimes I wish I could demonstrate
them appropriately but, alas, I cannot.
My personal experience has been that a male
teacher was better for me. I studied with some of the finest teachers in
the Philadelphia area and the best teacher/student relationship I ever had
was with my college voice teacher, Mr. Robert Grooters.
>From a teacher standpoint I don't see the difference as much. Maybe my
students would.
Please let me know. My current division chair is reluctant to give me male
singers, though I have taught them before and am well-respected as a voice
teacher. I understand that a woman knows more about women's voices in one
respect, but I don't believe that means we can't effectively teach them. I
had male teachers all through college. My biggest disaster was the female
teacher I deliberately sought out to study with in graduate school! It's
the pedagogy and the ear that make the difference! I will be anxious to see
your compilation!
I was a trumpet major, took voice class, was successful. After two years in
studio with a woman (Dr. Ethel Clossen Smith, Indiana State University) she
said, "You need to study with a man now."
As a high school choral director with over 50 kids in private study I
find that the first two years make no difference. Then we may be getting
into passaggio questions, covering, etc...
Fundamentals are fundamentals. The key in my opinion is teaching style
and personal relationship between tchr/std. After two years I consider
gender, but do not hold to it steadfast when assigning my students to an
applied teacher.
I've had both genders, of course...but I've never found it a problem to
teach a male student, even though I'm female.

Maybe it's because the essential things are the same, for both genders.
I may not be able to reach the same notes, tonally, that the male can, but I
can sure teach him how to get there, and do it safely, and with a rich,
proper tone and intonation.

In fact, I've actually found that the male students take the whole idea
of vocal instruction much more seriously than the females do. The girls
tend to be rather giggly and shy, and it takes awhile to get them to settle
down, and really work...they tend to think that vocal instruction is more
like 'singing in a high school choir'....the males, on the other hand, are
more likely to follow instructions, and get down to work when they take
vocal lessons. They don't expect to be singing like "Mariah Carey"...they
want to improve what they have, learn more, and not try to sing like someone
else. They want to be themselves, only with more control, and better

> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > >
Ieva Wool
conductor and singing teacher
Singing warms the soul, enlivens the body and refreshes the mind.
Singing is play, blessing and healing.
Singing touches our deepest yearning to give voice to the spirit within.
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > >

on September 8, 2002 10:00pm
This sort of question has to be faced on an individual basis by each student. There is no hard and fast rule. The biggest factor in my experience comes from the type of learning style that the student has. If they are natural mimics, who don't process verbally too well, then they should study with someone not only of their gender, but also of thier fach. Of course, if they are better at verbally processing, then they should find the teacher who is better at defining what needs to be done regardless of gender issues. But, then again, there are those students who don't feel comfortable with members of the opposite sex. As you see there are more questions than answers. I am a bass-baritone, and have studied with a Tenor (who was a lovely man, but not a great pedagog), a Baritone (who corrected many of the problems I had developed), and a Coloratura-Soprano (who was FABULOUS and got me to sing with a relaxed larynx). I also had brief 6 week stints with a Heldon-Tenor (who got my palate and range to go higher, but my larynx tended to go with it--despite his telling me to keep it down. He was very kinesthetic, I am verbal and try as I could, I couldn't get what he wanted completely when he was in the room) and a Lyric-Soprano (who had me sing 5-tone scales on "ah" for 6 weeks, but got me to balance the High palate, and the low larynx). She was wonderful, but sometimes overly critical, and had I studied with her when I was younger, I would have quit.

See . . . there is no answer for everyone. My Coloratura was the best for me, but I learned from others too. The Heldon Tenor is great for some, but not for others. Try to define what type of learner you are, and then find a teacher who compliments that learning style.

Good luck!