5 Tips on What to Expect at Your First Singing Lesson

If there is one thing that I’ve noticed in the last years of teaching adult beginners it’s that everyone is pretty nervous to start off. I don’t blame them, singing in front of one person can feel a little strange and the thought of it is really what makes many people too anxious to start singing lessons. With this in mind I thought it might be a good idea to give you an idea of what to expect when you step through the door for the first time, and some tips to get the most from this session.

Cork Music Lessons

What to expect at your first lesson…

1. Lesson One is often not a lesson at all.

When you first step into the room with your new vocal coach or singing teacher, you probably won’t be asked to start singing an operatic aria on the spot! The teacher will want to talk to you about your experience, even if it’s minimal and what you hope to achieve in the lessons. Then he or she will listen to your voice by playing a few short and easy melodies on the piano and asking you to copy them. This will help the teacher to assess what approach is best to take with your voice and what material may suit you. If you feel comfortable, you may be asked to sing a song you like for the teacher to get an idea of your phrasing, diction and breathing.

2. Know what you want from singing lessons.

“I’m just doing it for enjoyment,” is a great approach to have to singing lessons! Teachers love to hear that adults and young people alike are learning to sing because they love it. Even if you are not considering exams or taking to the stage, it is important to have a few goals in mind to help you to progress in your singing. After all, what you can achieve is limitless and it’s rewarding to have markers to show how far you’ve come.

Here are some goals you might consider:
-To be able to sing in a choir and feel confident.
-To know a certain number of songs off-by-heart by the New Year.
-To gain the confidence to sing at a social gathering. 


Think carefully

Think about what you would like to achieve in singing lessons, and what music you would like to sing.

3. Make a list!

It will help the teacher and you both if you can make a list of the music you are interested in singing before your first lesson. Often when people are put on the spot, they panic and can’t even remember one song they like! Making a list of the type of songs you would like to sing will give the teacher an idea of what vocal style you’re most interested in and how to get you there. Don’t worry about suitability, your teacher will advise you when he/she assesses your voice. Dream big!

4. Weird things happen in singing lessons…

Although your teacher won’t expect you to sing a big number on the spot, you may find yourself going through a lot of breathing exercises and stretches. It’s best to understand that although this may seem strange, when we sing our bodies are our instrument and it’s crucial to have the apparatus in good working order! For some pupils breathing takes months, for others it is simply a few weeks. The main thing is not to be caught off guard when your teacher asks you to close your eyes and become aware of the position of your feet or similar!

Singing advice

Always keep a record of exercises and tips your teacher gives you.

5. Keep records.

The best way to make progress from one lesson to the next  is to keep a journal of each lesson. Singing teachers say A LOT of things during a lesson that you will need to remember, so it’s best to either keep a paper journal or to record the lesson on a dictaphone or other device. (Remember to ask your teacher if it’s ok to record first!) Keeping an audio recording is useful as you can listen back and sing along with exercises. It’s also a great way of seeing how much you have improved from week to week!

Make sure you bring paper and a pen to your first lesson at the very least, as you may be asked to do a few exercises or research singers or songs before your next lesson.


So there we have it! I hope that this helps you to prepare for your first lesson! If you have any queries about starting singing lessons, you can comment below!


Happy singing!

About corkmusiccollective

Cork Music Collective is a cottage industry music education project which aims to make learning an instrument fun! I teach musicianship and instrumental lessons at all levels. Whether it's as a hobby or for exams, I endeavor to make learning music fun and interesting!
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4 Responses to 5 Tips on What to Expect at Your First Singing Lesson

  1. Great article! It’s good to set intentions like the ones you listed under #2—even if it is just for enjoyment, there are levels to work toward and that can feel so good. “Weird things may happen” and “Your first lesson won’t have much singing” really resonate with me. I find that the human voice is such a delicate tool of expression and it’s so interlinked with emotional states so I think your singing teacher gets to know you on a really intimate level. There were certain emotional blocks I’ve gotten through in vocal training that I never would have done without it. Something frees up when there’s someone encouraging you and supporting you to sing properly. I think learning to sing comes with emotional freedom and it’s good to be ready to have that in your life.

    • Thank you for this lovely, considered comment, MaryBeth! It’s true that singing is very linked to the singer’s physical and emotional wellbeing and studied have proven that people who sing every day are happier! I find it fascinating, too, to look at the cross-over into yogic chanting/resonating and the resonance that comes from singing. It’s all connected, I believe!

  2. Number 4 is so true. Especially warm-up exercises.
    I remember when I was about 12 & I first went to singing lessons I was like “no way am I making those noises, nope.”

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