Voice Lessons for Adults

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Singing teacher for adult with no formal training

Jan 2016

I am looking for a singing teacher who can work with an adult with no formal voice training. I want to have more power in my speech as well. North Oakland location or nearby would be great. Wanting a stronger voice

A while ago, one of the things I wanted to learn was to use my voice and learn to project it. Since I had no formal training and have never been in a choir this was an absolute new experience for me. I found Mynah Music Studios located by Lower Hills neat Lake Merrit. My teacher's name is Leah. I had enjoyed every lesson I had with her and learnt a lot of vocal techniques including, use of chest voice, head voice, learnt how to breathe properly, proper posture, etc. I enjoyed taking lessons under Leah since she was very flexible with my busy schedule and was just a pleasure to work with. You can email Leah directly at leahwoodardmusic [at] gmail.com.

My singing teacher is fantastic. Steven Snelling, steve [at] stevesnelling.com 415-846-1022 I've been studying with him for almost 2 years. He'll work with high level singers and raw beginners. You'll work on voice technique, breathing, tone, and lots more. He's also a great accompanist and arranger. We meet at Piedmont Piano in Oakland. Big parking lot across the street so parking is easy.
Good luck. June K

I recommend Lisa Woo who is a great voice teacher for both singing and speech presentation. She teaches all levels and has a studio in South Berkeley. You can contact her at Lisawoovoice [at] gmail.com or through her website at Lisawoo.net.

I want to sing!

Aug 2013

I'm a 40-year-old mother of 2 with an atrocious singing voice. I sang (lip-synced) in chorus wayyyy back in middle school but since then have felt that my voice was unfit for human ears. I sing to my kids but that's about it. I literally mouth the words to ''happy birthday'' at parties (is that a really hard song to sing or is it just me???). I feel that I have the range of a chipmunk. Anyway, I love music and I've always felt so much respect and awe for singers. It just seems like a person must feel so free to be able to really belt it out! I've never even been willing to make an ass out of myself singing karaoke with my friends. So now that I'm old and wise I want to address this fear of making a fool out of myself by getting comfortable with my voice. So my question is, do people ever take singing lessons a) when they have NO innate talent, and b) as a form of personal growth therapy? Is there such a thing as a singing coach/therapist? Fa, a long, long way to go.

hi there. i have never sang in my life and come from a family of terrible singers (who do love to sing in the car). i really have always thought i sound like a dying animal of some kind when trying to sing. i am officially ''tone deaf,'' but like you i love singers and am often so touched and in awe of people (especially those close to me- friends, partners) who can sing. it's even like a spiritual experience for me. i have always loved it so much. nonetheless- last year suddenly i decided i wanted to sing- and called some singing teachers and i have been doing it weekly ever since. its been 13 months! and i love it! and i am no longer ''tone deaf'' and my teacher honestly is amazing. he is so incredible. he is in san francisco and marin- incase that works for you - i will pass along his information. he is more in tune (no pun intended) with what blocks me, how to go in each important step, and believe it or not i don't absolutely hate the way i sound anymore. i actually hit the right notes and progressing regularly. and its helped me to ''find my voice'' in many other areas of my life as well, which is a lovely bonus. so to answer your question- yes people who ''can't'' sing- can learn to sing! and its incredibly fun and freeing. highly recommend you take the plunge. in case it works my teachers name is Robert Robinson - here his yelp page http://www.yelp.com/biz/robinson-voice-studio-san-francisco i couldn't ask for a more thorough, experienced, and professional voice teacher (you'll be able to see my review on there from 6 weeks after i started). good luck! Jill

Michele Voilleque is an incredible singing teacher, and more importantly, I think you would be a good match. I think with the kind of humor you expressed in your post, the two of you would really resonate! Her email is singermv [at] gmail.com Her website is http://www.mvmusik.com/mvmusik.com/Home.html David

After years of being embarrassed about my singing voice, my 40th birthday present to myself was to sign up for Tamsen Fynn's Women's Singing Circle at the Freight and Salvage. I highly recommend it -- it's friendly, fun, and welcoming for those of us who are pitch-challenged. I still have a LOT to learn, but I had a blast in the class and felt like it was a great place to start. http://www.thefreight.org/womens-singing-circle-summer-2013 Tamsen also gives private lessons if you want one-on-one instruction. Jennifer

Voice/Speaking and Singing Lessons in Berkeley?

Sept 2012

I love to sing, and can carry a tune but would love to take some singing lessons and also work on my speaking voice a bit since I don't like the way I sound when I speak. Are voice/speaking lessons the same as singing lessons? Or would one help the other? I've searched the archives but didn't see any info to answer this question. Looking for someone affordable ($50/lesson or less) and located in Berkeley or North Oakland. -Vocally Challenged!

For a voice and singing teacher I highly recommend Phoebe Sorgen in Berkeley. She is really wonderful! Not only is she classically trained and an amazing singer, she is very good with people and is a really amazing person. She is extremely caring and gentle and puts passion into everything she does. I encourage you to contact her and try a lesson to see if it is a good fit for you. She can be reached at: 510-595-5575. Enjoy! Leah

Hi, I offer voice lessons in Berkeley and would love to chat with you about how speaking and singing are related. Focusing on singing is a great strategy for improving your speaking voice. The breath, tightness in the throat and chest, and placement of sound inside the head can all impact the speaking voice and the singing voice. I offer 1/2 hour lessons for $40 and 1 hour lessons for $60. Also, I lead The Women's Singing Circle at The Freight & Salvage on Thursday nights, and that is another very fun (and affordable) way to work on vocal technique, because I integrate technique into the evening in a strategic, relevant, focused way.

One exercise you can try to relax the voice, while keeping the diaphram engaged, is to hum on a note, then slowly slide down to a lower note. Humming usually bipasses tightness in the throat, and allows the voice to relax while staying supported. Try this as you drive around town, ride your bike, or walk down the street! I'd love to work with you on supporting your voice with the breath and finding the placement that sends the sound forward, making projection effortless. Tamsen Fynn tamsenfynn [at] yahoo.com

Two strong recommendations. Not sure about cost, but call to find out. Donna Davis, Speach and Acting Coach: http://www.donnadavis.info/coaching.htm

Michele Voilleque, singing and speaking: http://mvmusik.com/mvmusik.com/Home.html
Albany Singer

Hello, Kattt Atchley is a wonderful voice and singing coach. She can be reached at : katttmeow [at] gmail.com Best wishes, Bill

For singing lessons, contact Michelle Voilleque - http://www.mvmusik.com/mvmusik.com/Home.html. She loves to sing and to teach others to sing! Rae

Hi, I would highly recommend Michele Volique. She is a super nice person with a passion for singing, she so welcoming, I know you will find it easy to be around her! And her voice is amazing, ask her to sing for you, it will seal the deal!! Singermv [at] gmail.com Thanks Eric

Teachers' philosophies differ about whether training for speaking and singing are the same: yes, no and it depends. In principle, they overlap in terms of learning about the breath and individual sounds, for example (though a singer learns to sustain sounds longer than a speaker typically needs to). But in fact not all teachers teach these or teach them well. One difference: for the singer, a composer or songwriter has already decided the lyrics, melody, rhythm, dynamics (loud, soft, etc.). But the speaker has to consider those aspects him- or herself: does my speech have a pleasing melody? Does it have variety in terms of dynamics, and carry the meaning and quality of my thoughts? It's wonderful that you're thinking about your voice! I work with the speaking voice. The amount you'd like to spend is very reasonable and it's also less than I charge, but we could certainly put our heads together and find a way to work together within your budget. For singing with a low financial commitment, some people join singing circles that have someone there to give pointers to the participants. For no-/low cost speaking, some people find what they need at a local Toastmasters chapter. Over the last decades we've heard the speaking voice increasingly electronified, and I find that people are starved to hear (and to have!) the natural, expressive, fully- dimensional human speaking voice again. Lissa Tyler Renaud, Voice Training Project 510.653.8395 Loves a Beautiful Speaking Voice

Voice Lessons for Adult?

April 2012

I am looking for informal voice training. I like to sing just recreationally, and the voice teachers I have tried so far are more into the technical component of teaching for performers (which definately isnt' me!). I am just a 50 year old mom wanting to improve my singing voice for my own pleasure. Any ideas?

I highly recommend my voice teacher, Michele Voilleque. http://www.mvmusik.com/mvmusik.com/Home.html singing mom

Once again, Erica Maier on Gilman is fantastic! (510) 225-5380 anon

I highly recommend Betsy Blakeslee,510.387.4462, betsyblakes [at] gmail.com, www.betsyblakeslee.com. She is very warm, encouraging, and skillful at helping her students enjoy singing at whatever level they're aiming for! I'm about your age, have been in a chorus she directs since last fall, have learned a lot, and enjoy singing again all the time for my own pleasure. She also leads the super fun Instant Chorus, which is a 2-hour event the first Saturday of the month (3-5 pm at Freight & Salvage on May 5 & June 2). Happy singing! Terry

I will repeat my recommendation for Michele Voilleque (http://www.mvmusik.com), a voice teacher in North Berkeley (she also teachers piano and violin). I think she would be a good fit for what you're looking for--she aims to help you improve your singing to get more enjoyment out of it. From what I've observed she is not obsessed with the ''technical component'' of performing. Parent of one of Michele's students

My teen daughter has been having lessons with Rebecca Castelli http://www.rebeccacastelli.com/ and they have been excellent. She's made a lot of progress and is much more confident. Rebecca Castelli teaches adult students as well and sometimes does workshops for groups of students. anon

Learning to sight read choral music

April 2012

I would like to learn how to sight-read musical scores for voice. I want to join a chorus where sight-reading is required. Can you recommend anyone who can teach me privately, in Berkeley or nearby? Anne M.

Erica Maier on Gilman is fantastic! (510) 225-5380 anon

Contact Choral Director Betsy Blakeslee, betsyblakes [at] gmail.com, www.betsyblakeslee.com. She's in Orinda but teaches in Oakland once/week. Terry

Good for you for wanting to improve your sightreading! Michelle Voilleque (http://www.mvmusik.com) is a voice teacher in North Berkeley (she also teachers piano and violin) who can help you learn to sightread music. I think you will find her pleasant and helpful to work with. She seems to strike a good balance in her feedback. (Disclaimer: I have not studied voice with Michelle; my daughter studies violin with her and we've been very pleased with how it's going.) Sightsinger

Can I learn how to sing?

Jan 2012

Can anyone learn how to sing? Or do you have some natural ability, even if it is a little. I have none, but have always wished I could sing. I don't want to win American Idol or anything; I just be able to read music and carry a tune. Are there people who will teach adults how to sing? Or should I put this fantasy to rest? vocally challenged

Michele Voilleque is a wonderful singing teacher who I think could help you. I'm very impressed with her knowledge and personality. She teaches my granddaughter, but I'm sure she's very good with adults. She makes it fun while giving thorough and helpful knowledge. See her website: www.mvmusik.com/mvmusik.com jpim

Yes!! Everyone can sing! The inexpensive way is to sing every chance you get; with your cd's, at church, karaoke- and bring friends that support you 100%. If you feel like you must study with someone, i reccommend Shari Carlson Studio in SF-i could write a novel about how great she is, but you can meet with her to determine if it's a good fit. Above all, never stop singing! Www.sharicarlsonstudio.com Tonya

Anyone can learn how to sing! (Well, except my tone deaf younger brother, but he is definitely the exception!) Singing has a lot to do with breathing, listening, hearing, engaging, and releasing. That may sound abstract, but it's actually very physical. Singing is a full body experience, using muscles and senses, emotion and sound. If you ever want to sing in a group that welcomes beginners, I teach a Women's Singing Circle at The Freight & Salvage in Berkeley on Thursday nights from 8:30-10:00pm. I am also happy to offer private lessons for individuals or groups. http://www.thefreight.org/classes-freight

Regardless of where you decide to pursue singing, you should definitely start!!! There are cultures where everyone has been singing since infancy, and I think this practice brings deep joy, especially when it is shared in community. Singing is a gift for all of us, even my tone deaf younger brother! Regardless of ability or ambition, sing often, sing freely, and sing with joy! Tamsen

I would be happy to recommend Michele Voilleque. She is wonderful and very talented. She does private lessons and group classes, kids and adults, and she is a wonderful singer! I have heard her many times. Her info: 510-552-8160 www.mvmusik.com Good luck! Eric

I've been really enjoying the singing circle with Tamsen Flynn at Freight and Salvage and private singing and guitar lessons with Robin Flower. Both amazingly talented, kind, patient and encouraging. Francine

Anyone can learn to use their voice musically! I teach singing to children and adults of all levels, and I enjoy exploring how to use the voice as a beginning singer. If you're interested, get in touch with me and we can talk about lessons! Www.wix.com/Kailamcb/singing Kaila

I was told at an early age that I couldn't carry a tune, something that didn't have to be pointed out to me as I could hear it myself, but I liked to sing anyway once in a while. I come from a family with lots of good singers and as a teen I stopped singing entirely. In my mid 20s I took voice lessons once a week for about 6 months. The teacher usually taught serious singers but was willing to help me and with some practice and guidance I did learn to control my voice to the point that I can now sing along with a group without feeling embarrassed and I sing lots to my small children. My family has even commented on that I have a surprisingly nice singing voice! So my answer is yes, you can learn to become a much better singer. It is important though to have a good ear (or decent at least), if you don't hear it yourself when you are off pitch then you are unlikely to be able to learn it. Anon

I think so. Certainly do know you can have some fun in the process. Tamsen Fynn holds a womens' singing circle at Freight & Salvage on Thursday evenings. Is a wonderful, absolutely supportive space to get-together and sing. No previous experience necessary. Tamsen is a knowledgable, gentle guide in the process. Come on in and check it out - believe is typically a group running over 6 weeks. Jen

Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse in downtown Berkeley has a great new venue and also a new educational outreach that includes Tamsen Fynn's Women's Singing Circle. Look online for details; classes are starting again soon. We did warm ups for our voices and sang songs ranging from American folk tunes to African chants to show tunes. It was wonderful! Tamsen has guitar and drum; classes are small; and the songs stayed with me and popped up in my head all week. Anyone can sing. Lorraine

Yes, anyone who can speak in complete, intelligible sentences can learn to sing. Yes, I can teach you to read music and carry a tune. Yes, I teach adults. Yes, you can live a fuller life. Michele V

Finding my singing voice

Sept 2011

How do you get started singing if you're not always in tune? Where do you sing out loud? I'm not a great singer by any stretch, but I find that I really like singing to my daughter and I like singing in the car. (I've always liked singing drunk at karaoke. But I don't get to do that much anymore. At all). Where do mediocre yet spirited voices get together to just let loose and sing from the heart? And have fun! I don't want to join a choir, but I want to get high on song. I would like to be in the company of adults - so maybe something at night? I've heard of kirtan/chanting, but is that fun and happy or a bit more meditative? Sea shanties? I'd love some advice on how to start and where to go that will be welcoming. twinkle twinkle ain't cutting it

Try Circle Singing! Every third Wednesday of the month, a group of people meet up with a leader from the fabulous a capella group SoVoSo. The group is broken down into voice parts and the leader gives each group a little ditty to sing on repeat and then builds on it with the other groups. There's no expectation of singing capacity whatsoever, and it's lots of fun. You can even build up to busting out and soloing in the middle! I used to go but stopped because I wanted to be part of a choir and sing songs, but I've been wanting to pop back in from time to time -- just haven't made it happen since baby came along. Here's info: http://www.circlesing.net/ A fellow singer

Check out Sandi Morey's SingThing. It's a group that meets Wed nights in Berkeley and Thursday nights in Oakland and just sings, not for performance, but for fun. Sea Shanteys are indeed part of the repertoire, as are rounds and folk songs and ballads and all manner of thing. It's a family sing, so if your daughter is old enough, she can come too. My son and I participated from the time he was in 1st grade until he hit middle school, when he stopped being into it and the scheduling got too hard. One of the nicest things about it though is that your family -- and friends if you bring them -- will know LOTS of songs that you can sing together at campfires, on car rides, etc. http://sandimorey.com/ Dashka

You mentioned that you love to sing but have trouble carrying a tune. I would recommend a few voice lessons. A good voice teacher can help you with ear training and help you find ''your singing voice''. There are many great voice teachers around. I can recommend Ann Moss who is in East Richmond, her e-mail is voiceclass [at] gmail.com In Oakland is Ellen Robinson, who is a fabulous teacher, choral director, jazz singer, her e-mail is ellen [at] ellenrobinson.com There are singing classes at the Jazz School in Berkeley... Hope this is helpful, have fun and never stop singing. fellow singer

Try SingThing, a family based sing-along, in a private home. Here's the link http://sandimorey.com/ love to sing

I highly recommend Michele Voilleque as a singing teacher. She has an incredible joy of life and love of teaching. She will make you laugh and sing with a smile on your face and lightness in your heart. Her phone is 510-552-8160 and web site is www.mvmusik.com. Shoey Sindel

I highly recommend MVMusik - a fun, compassionate, passionate place to find your voice! http://mvmusik.com https://www.facebook.com/pages/Michele-Voilleque-musician-and-teacher/124591817554609 Paul

Voice teacher for fairly advanced student

April 2011

Can anyone recommend a voice teacher for a fairly advanced student who wants to learn good technique, whether classical or pop. She's not sure which direction she's going with her singing, so the teacher could have either specialty. thea

I've been taking voice lessons with Beth Amisano, eamisano [at] gmail.com or (415) 368-4771. She is quite remarkable in identifying the specific ways an individual can improve their singing--I've been surprised at how she has helped me sing way beyond what I thought possible, but the professional classical soprano in our group is also devoted to lessons with Beth. Her approach to ease in singing technique would seem to be applicable to classical or pop. She is substantially better than two other voice teachers I have taken lessons from. love singing

Male voice teacher who's fabulous

Aug 2010

I'm looking for recs for a male voice teacher for my husband. This person has to be very experienced and should know how to work w/ a novice singer in his 60's. Thanks for any leads

Marzuki Grinage teaches a great vocal technique and is great. See website http://www.innerphonic.com/. Maya in Oakland

Voice Teacher wanted for Adult

July 2009

Having always wanted to train my voice to sing, I finally have the time to learn. Does anyone have any recommendations for someone in the Lamorinda area? Singing Mom

Good for you! I also learned to sing as an adult, and it was one of the most wonderful, empowering things I ever did. I recommend Michelle Voilleque (Vwahl-a-kay) 510-552-8160. She is a lovely person and has lots of teaching experience. She has a website you can visit: www.mvmusik.com to get more info. Songbird

I highly recommend Alex Taite. Voice is his passion. He is a graduate of Pepperdine University and currently is on staff at Oakland School for the Arts and the SF Opera Chorus. He is able to teach you any vocal style. You can contact him at artaite [at] gmail.com or by phone at 310-383-7694. He will come to your home or arrange for your lesson in Walnut Creek or Oakland. susan

You should definitely contact Michele Voileque. She is a voice teacher (as well as being a personal friend), and she's an exceptional teacher. You should definitely check her out. Call Michele at 510-552-8160. Check out her website at http://mvmusik.com/Welcome.html David

You can't go wrong singing with Ellen Robinson. She is a jazz vocalist and directs several choirs--including the Anything Goes Chorus in SF and Oakland, and the Girlfriendz Nonet. I sing in one of her choruses, and have taken a few lessons from her. She is an incredible teacher, and very positive/supportive. www.ellenrobinson.com Enjoy singing! Julie

Singing teacher or class for an adult

August 2006


I have a great voice teacher for you in San Francisco. I've been taking from him for a couple of years. His name is Corey Head And here's his Web site: http://www.coreyhead.com/ Corey teaches private lessons in his house out in the avenues off of Taraval (outer Richmond, I guess it is). He also teaches at San Francisco State. He's also a professional singer who performs classical music, but don't be put off by that. His students range from rockers and folkies to classical singers. I sing with a folk music group. I also sing early music. What he teaches you can be applied to any type of singing. He will not try to turn your voice into an opera voice. He simply teaches you how to use your body and your mind to sing better, whatever the style. He's an experienced and gifted teacher -- funny, inspiring, knows his stuff inside and out. It's scary at first to go sing with a teacher, but he makes it totally comfortable and fun. My lesson is one of the highlights of my week. I can't recommend him more highly! BTW, it takes time for voice lessons to ''work'' -- though I felt significant improvements from the very beginning. You have to train your body (and it's partly in your mind, too) to allow your voice to come out. You have to unlearn some bad habits. But the ''unlearning'' process is fun! If you trust Corey's experience and let him guide you, you will be able to make the most of your natural voice Dana

If you want adult singing classes, i would go to shari carlson. she's in the city around sutter street/ union square area- it's more than just singing; it's very cathartic! plus she's very insightful- www.sharicarlson.com helaine

Looking for a Fun Voice Instructor

May 2006

I am looking for a fun voice instructor to help me develop my singing and speaking voice. And if they are familiar in dealing with the underlying emotional fears that come with singing, that would be a bonus! I would greatly appreciate any recommendations you might have. Thanks! Michele

I can't say enough good things about Cary Sheldon (843-9687). She teaches voice lessons in her home, near Shattuck & University. My rather shy 16 year old daughter sang with her for about a year and loved her. She's very encouraging and a lot of fun

Lake Montessori in Oakland holds an opera camp in the summertime. You could call them for information or advice Like singing with the kids

Voice lessons in SF for an adult

March 2003

I'm looking for a recommendation for a voice teacher in San Francisco. I am an adult who sang quite a bit as a child but I haven't sung anywhere but the car or the shower for the last thirty years. I'm hoping to find someone who can help me improve and master my voice so I can sing for fun with my son. I've checked the website and all the recommended teachers are in the East Bay which doesn't work for me. Thanks! Whitney

Good for you! Studying voice was probably the most fun, most meaningful, most memorable thing I've done with my spare time. And the joy of it was mostly in working with Paul Brian, who is a choir director, professional soloist, and musician. Paul is great at figuring out what level you're at and what inspires you, and working from there. He's used to working with people at all levels of talent and experience, and he's very relaxed and approachable. You can reach him at his phone number at St Luke's in San Francisco where he directs the music program. 415 673 9971. Good luck! Deirdre

Lessons for an adult who sings badly

February 2003

I sing to my children all the time. I sing very badly. I'm told I'm usually off-key, but I usually can't tell. I don't want to be such a bad role model. Is there a voice teacher who could help me? (I've looked at the web site, but the recommendations seem to be for musically proficient children, as opposed to musically impaired adults.) Karen

My sister Eliza O'Malley teaches voice privately in El Cerrito and in Berkeley at the Chamber Arts House. She has a Master of Music degree in Voice Performance and has performed all over the Bay Area and elsewhere. She recently performed the role of St. Settlement in Virgil Thomson's Four Saints in Three Acts with the Oakland Opera and will perform Micaela in Carmen with Capitol Opera Sacramento and Nora in Vaughn Williams' Riders to the Sea at Holy Names College next spring. A recommendation from one of her students (Becky Gambatese): ''I highly recommend Eliza as a voice instructor. She is one of the best I've been to. Over the past year, she has helped me tremendously both technically and as a performer. She is patient and encouraging, yet challenging and shares many fresh ideas from her own singing experience. I have in the past, and would continue to recommend her.'' You can contact Eliza at: 510-235-4471, or by email at: ELIZAOMALLEY (at) prodigy.net Sara O'Malley

Marcelle Dronkers is an accomplished, local vocalist, who both performs, teaches and conducts in classical venues. She is available at 526-5425. She is willing to take on students who consider themselves musically ''challenged.''