Learning how to sing isn't a cheap endeavor, especially if you want to go all the way to becoming a professional. How can you limit the amount you spend, while not limiting the progress you make?
I used to be one of those students who spent all their money on high ticket singing teachers. It was not a good feeling, even though the teachers were good. I basically spent all my money on singing lessons. It took me a few years after I started making enough to live on before I realized it’s ok to buy winter boots in a Berlin winter...
I understand some people just don’t have the deep pockets to go to weekly lessons. And the best teachers usually are not the cheapest. I told myself I wouldn’t be one of those teachers who take people’s last pennies because they want to learn how to sing so badly.
However, it is not easy to keep my hourly rate low. Also considering the unpaid hours I need to work on my business and developing my website and method. I ended up admitting: I’m not cheap anymore.
So I have to do my best to make it possible for people with less means, who are serious about studying voice, to study with me. Because if you are in, I am all in. Here is what I came up with.
6 ways to spend less on your singing education
1. Learn the basics on your own
Even if you are just starting out. There is a lot to learn about the voice and a lot to experiment with that you can do by yourself at home. Most teachers won’t spend your lesson time teaching you all that, but it is incredibly important. Starting off with this foundation will give you a huge advantage.
Some people read books about singing and vocal technique. That’s always good, but today everything is done online, right? I collected some sources to get familiar with the voice and its mechanism in this article: how does the voice work.
2. Start by taking an online course
If you find a teacher - online or offline - that you like they might have an online singing course. If you like their teaching, you’ll probably like their course, as is would be based on their approach and personality. It will be a lot cheaper than taking real life lessons, and you can have the fundamentals of what they want to teach you on video, in close reach. That’s amazing, you can always refresh your memory if needed and use it to practice.
3. Combine the online course with lessons
As said, by having a course at your disposal you are off to a very good start. You can go to your teacher when you feel you need more feedback or tailor-made guidance.
In the beginning you might feel a bit clueless and will need your teacher more often. But once you'll acquire some knowledge and skills, you will be able to extend the breaks between the lessons, and let the course sustain your practice at home.
Also... get a job.
Listen: unless you find oil somewhere or a rich aunt dies and leaves you a fortune - you’ll have to get some money. Even with scholarships, even doing all you can to save on lessons. You still need money for pianists, recordings, travelling for auditions, coachings of different kinds, etc.
Especially if you are young and in the beginning of your journey, hear me out: get a job. Have the income and the freedom to do the things you really want to do. Don’t sit on your hands and wait for the messiah. You’ll be able to lay off the boring job later when you are making money from singing gigs.
4. Maximize the effect of each lesson -> take fewer
I recommend taking your time between lessons. Don’t go in there every week because people say that the most serious way to go. It’s not, if you don’t make the best out of your lessons.
While in the lesson, take notes (or better: record or film!) and then go and work on what you worked on in the lesson. Focus on one thing at a time and don’t go back for another lesson until you feel you have gained a better understanding of what you learned.
When I say gain a better understanding, I mean physical, kinesthetic understanding. Meaning, you feel the better way to sing in your body, and you have some idea what happened in your body, so you can go back to it and redo it.
The more familiarity you have with that thing you were trying to learn, the better. You can then go back to your teacher and move on to the next issue. Much better, faster and more long lasting progress. And you can take lessons less often and save your money.
5. Take interactive group lessons
Preferably, take lessons which also give some individual attention. Think of a yoga class. You go and do yoga with a group and occasionally the teacher will go around and fix your posture. You may benefit from a singing version of that. The price will be lower and you will learn a lot. You can combine that with a systematic online course for your home practice, if you will.
6. Apply for a scholarship
To those of you who want to be singers more than anything, but don’t have the means: seek financial aid. Don’t be shy or embarrassed. Trust me, the shame is worse when the years go by and you realize you haven’t made all the effort to make your own dream come true. Start googling some options and see what you can apply for.
What I can do for you
If you happen to want to study with me, but the prices of my lessons are higher than you’d wish, there are options.
Whatever your budget is, you can learn something from me online, without taking a single lesson.
You can start with a super cheap course - Learn from the Best - which is only $5. There I show you how all the good singers basically use the same technique. I find it inspiring to see there are patterns across the board, and it’s motivating to start trying out those techniques.
Another small and affordable course you can find here is SingWell with Yoga. If you are curious about yoga or already doing it, you’d be amazed what it can do for your singing voice.
The largest, most thorough online course I have is Make Singing Click. It's about systematically diagnosing vocal pain points, finding out which solutions work best for you, and drilling those in before moving to the next. It's designed for effectiveness, for leveraging your practice hours to the max. Students get a discount on this course.
Combining course with lessons
In my lessons with students who do Make Singing Click, I’m able to point them to the relevant part of the course they should work on at home. These students need fewer lessons with me.
I used to have occasional group lessons, because people thought they were fun, or wanted to experience singing without the one on one attention which could be overwhelming for some.
I now am trying out regular, weekly group lessons, to see how people can use it as an actual learning and practice tool. So as fun as those lessons may be - and they’ll be a lot of fun - they will be more than just singing in a group plus voice tips. It will be a simulation of a private lesson, with actual material from my course and some individual attention.
That doesn’t necessarily replace private lessons. But it’s a good alternative to taking frequent, expensive private lessons. They can be used as your maintenance vocal coaching, with private lessons only here and there.
I announced a scholarship once and I intend to do it again. Remember: I was you once. I know what it’s like. If you are an aspiring singer with little means, you can contact me and you will be considered for the next one. Write a thorough motivation.
Don’t let anything stop you. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s impossible.
You do need to put in the effort on your end, do the methodical practice at home (Check out my article How to practice singing), get the funds and use them wisely.
Go ahead and comment if you have questions or have any more ideas on how to save money on your singing journey.
About the author
I'm an opera singer and (online) voice teacher, based in Amsterdam. It took me more than a decade to overcome my share of mental and physical issues and reach a professional level as a singer. Because of this background, and my 10+ years of teaching experience, I believe I can speed up your learning curve as a singer.
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Eye-openers, tips and stories. Also content that I don't publish on my website.