Q. What's the difference between classical & musical theatre vocal technique?
A. Both operate on the same continuum. Differences lies in the degree of extension & flexion of the muscles of the body, tone color, ring & voice placement, registration, lowering of the larynx, etc.
Q. Do I have to sing Italian art songs to study musical theatre?
A. No. You will, however, have to study vowels like all singers.
Q. Why do you have students sing scales & exercises?
A. It's the only way to develop technique. Pianists practice their scales. Champion ice-skaters get up at dawn and go to the rink. Writers cloister themselves away for hours at a time. The Muse can't move through you if you don't do the work. What is the work of the singer? The voice is the only instrument which must be formed before it can be played upon.
Q. Aren't some singers "naturals?"
A. Indeed they are! The smart ones, however, figure out what they are doing so they can fix things when they get into trouble. And believe me, everyone gets into trouble one way or another. Talent alone is not enough.
Q. How often should I practice?
A. Practice sessions for beginners should last no more than 10 minutes. After that the brain goes to mush. The goal for emerging professionals is five 10-minute practice sessions, followed by repertoire study—for a total of 2 hours.
Q. How long will it take to master the technique?
A. Once you have a grasp on the basic concepts, it's a matter of time & consistent practice. Realistically speaking, it takes about as long as it does to learn a foreign language. Those with greater built-in facility enter further down the track.
Q. I can't get to New York City. Do you teach via Internet?
A. Yes. See the studio page for details.
Q. Do you coach?
A. While coaching is part of the process, I am primarily a voice teacher who specializes in vocal technique, and refer classical students to Tyson Deaton for coaching when a stable & reliable vocal technique has been acquired.
Q. How do you pronounce your name?
A. My surname is pronounced as SHY-Go. The name itself is anglicized Hungarian, my grandfather having had the spelling changed by his elementary school teacher—a very common immigrant story during the first decade of the 20th century.
Q. How does the work of Alfred Tomatis factor into what you do in the studio?
A. Excellent question. While the singing and speaking voice is understood to be created in the larynx, it actually starts in the ear. I use specific exercises to optimize the ear's connection to the voice.
Q. Are you a fact-based teacher?
A. The Shigo Voice Studio is grounded in the principles of the old Italian school of singing, which—contrary to prevalent assumption—have little to do with imagery. It also benefits from current research in voice science.
Q. What happens in a voice lesson?
A. If you are a beginner, I will hear you sing, then will get to work on vocal technique—scales and exercises—which will take up the bulk of the lesson time. I will then circle back to apply technique to repertoire.
Q. Do I have to be able to read music?
A. The sad truth is that there are many would-be singers who don't read music very well. If you have any aspirations beyond rank amateur, you will contact Liz Fletcher or a comparable professional in your area to fill this gap in your knowledge.
Q. Do you teach beginners?
A. I teach a range of ages, from teenagers to mature adults, as well as levels of accomplishment. What interests me in a student is the desire to learn, love of singing, and the willingness to work. Those on the professional track bring a specific motivation. As Margaret Harshaw said: "It's either sing or die!"