I believe my teaching style may best be described as “holistic”. It is the voice teacher’s responsibility to develop the singer’s vocal potential by guiding the singer through a process of technical, artistic, musical and personal development. The teacher must consider the whole person: voice, mind, body, feeling, intellect, learning style, vocal history and goals. Singers sing for many different reasons. Some hope to have performing careers while others are recreational singers, or use singing as therapy. All are legitimate reasons for vocal study, but ultimately the voice must connect to the singer’s sense of self. The voice teacher facilitates and aids the singer in this process.

Voice training must start with technical development. While every voice is unique, the foundation of the Italian vocal technique which I teach is the same for all singers. My teaching is based on solid scientific knowledge of the physiology, anatomy and acoustics of the singing voice. Breath management must first be developed through individual exercises tailored to the singer’s needs. When the voice is connected and “on the breath”, the next steps are to develop legato, resonance, flexibility, range and strength. I guide the pace of this process carefully, observing the student’s readiness to move on to the next step of technical development. It is important that this process is not rushed.

There are no uniform “studio voices” in my studio. The goal of vocal training is to reveal the singer’s true voice, not the ”ideal sound” of the teacher, and I encourage individuality. The development of technique is not the end goal but a means to an end: that of serving the ART of singing and enhanced musical communication. I help the singer to develop his/her musicality and appropriate mental concepts to stimulate the singer’s imagination. I guide this work suggesting ways to practice and study, keeping in mind long term goals and possibilities. In voice development, teamwork is essential, and I will refer singers to trusted medical and other specialists if the singer has problems outside my area of expertise.

The teacher/student relationship is a partnership, where the singer is given  personal space and the opportunity to develop confidence and trust. The student must trust the teacher and feel free to reveal self if “the inner singer” is to emerge. In my teaching I respect personal boundaries but share freely of myself and my performing and life experiences. When the teacher is open and honest with the student the student learns authenticity and gains self-knowledge. I strive to maintain a studio atmosphere of positive emotion, kindness, honesty, optimism and support. The student and I are partners on a journey of lifelong learning. I grew up in a country which may be said to have a “singing culture”, and I observed early in my life the power of singing to transform and enrich lives. Everyone who has a desire to sing deserves the opportunity to learn to sing well!

© Anne Van Etten


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Teaching Philosophy

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