By: Martyn Croston
Learning to sing can be such an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Each singer possesses their own individual style and sound, which is almost always the focal point of any band or ensemble.
Jazz is one genre of music that allow singers the freedom to develop a unique sound and express themselves through improvisation. If you have not heard so already, there are some great jazz singers who possess a magical voice that is just so identifiable when you hear them on the radio or on a CD, e.g Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole to name but a few. If indeed you are interested in becoming the next Ella or Frank, where can you learn to sing jazz?
It is usually best to start looking for a singing teacher in your local area. Of course, there will be some who are primarily classical singers, but if you look around in a bit of detail you will definitely find some who teach jazz, pop and/or musical theatre. Here are some suggestions...
1) Ask your friends or family if they know a vocalist in your area, or even a musician. As singers almost always work with other musicians, you may find someone through a pianist, guitarist or violinist. I found an amazing jazz piano teacher through a saxophonist I knew a couple of years ago. Don't underestimate this approach as through a personal recommendation you can potentially find an excellent singing teacher.
2) Check to see if there are any live jazz bands in your area with a vocalist, and go to one of their gigs. If you like his or her voice, why not ask if they offer lessons? If they say no, ask if they know someone else? (NB - you could listen to some recordings on the internet of a local band, but sometimes it is not a good indicator as they may be using auto-tune on their voice. Try to watch a video clip instead or listen to a live recording where you can hear the audience in the background)
3) Go to your local music shop and see if they have any adverts for singing teachers
4) Look in the yellow pages for a singing teacher in your area.
5) Try a Google search for 'jazz vocal singing lessons' or 'jazz singing vocal teacher' plus your town
6) If you still cannot find an experienced jazz singer in your area, then you may have to be prepared to travel further to find one. Just by using the internet you can find various sites and directories of qualified vocalists who specialize singing in jazz, pop and/or musical theater e.g. Vocal tutor.
I hope some of these suggestions will lead to you finding a good teacher who can really teach you how to become an accomplished jazz singer. Good luck!