ARTICLES

​​​​​​​The following article is based on an interview I gave to the editors of Thumbtack.com, an online company dedicated to the success of small businesses and independent professionals.  To see the article on Thumbtack please click the button below:

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Latest news

​​So many of us love to belt out our favorite songs in the shower or car, but clam up when other people are around. But if you really love singing, why not consider taking lessons? After all, singing lessons can be benefit you in so many way, like helping you develop your natural talent, increasing brain function, honing your listening skills, helping you overcome any fears about performing in public, and giving you a way to express yourself through music. Plus, it’s great training for some awesome carpool Karaoke.

We spoke to Pamela Thomas, a singing teacher in Manhattan on Thumbtack, to find out what happens in singing lessons and how to go about finding a great instructor. And don’t worry if you think you can’t sing. Thomas says, “Most people have a good voice, but they’ve just been told they don’t.” You may not end up on “The Voice,” but at the very least, you won’t feel like you have to roll the car windows up when you’re at a stoplight.

Look for a Teacher Who Can Help You Achieve Your Objectives

Thomas says, “The best thing you can do is be very honest about what your goals are.” That way you’re much more likely to find a teacher who can help you achieve them. For example, Thomas’ specialty is classical and Broadway, so she doesn’t tend to take on students who want to be famous pop stars. “I could teach someone who wants that and help improve their voice, but it’s not my expertise and I’m sure there are other teachers who are better at it than I am,” she says. She asks all of her potential students to fill out questionnaires first, so that she can decide if they’d be a good fit and give them a serious quote. “I look for people who have some knowledge of what they want, even if they’re brand new to singing and just want to explore their voice,” she says. What it’s really about, for Thomas anyway, is a level of commitment. But don’t worry; even if taking singing lessons is going to be more of a hobby for you, there’s someone out there who’s a perfect match. You just have to be honest and upfront about what you’re expecting to gain from the experience.

Don’t Be Afraid to Try Several Teachers

“When you’re looking for a new teacher, you have to see if you’re a good match,” Thomas says. “I think you have to take a few lessons so that you get an idea of the teacher’s approach and the teacher gets to learn about your voice.” After three lessons, she says, you can usually tell if the teacher is passionate or if they’re just there to make money. “Is the teacher excited and do they make you excited?” Thomas asks. “Because it’s really about how you connect. And if they’re not right for you or if aren’t sure, you should go out and try some other teachers. Maybe you’ll come back and maybe you won’t.” Ultimately though, she says, you should not automatically stick with the first teacher you meet unless you really connect and feel like it’s a good fit.

Re-evaluate Your Teacher a Few Months In

Thomas says the most important thing about your singing coach is that you connect and that it’s a positive relationship. “But you also want to make sure the teacher is able to adapt things specifically to your voice,” she says. If they’re teaching the same thing to everyone, that should be a red flag. It can also take a few months to really gain momentum. “That’s when the teacher knows more about you and can help better guide you,” she says. “But, if you’ve given it a few months and you’re not getting any better, you should leave and find another teacher. Don’t be afraid to say you want to keep looking. It’s hard to have that conversation, but it’s your voice and your career.” And it’s also important to remember that you learn something different from different teachers, so even if you’ve had a great run, it still may be time to switch things up.

Find a Teacher Who is Trained and Continues to Work on Their Training

“There are a lot of teachers who aren’t really trained,” Thomas warns. “Teaching singing is a skill you have to learn, but you also have to have an ear for it.” Though she’s been teaching for over 30 years, she still works with her mentor. “He teaches how to teach because it’s not just going through exercises, it’s figuring out which exercise an individual needs. If an exercise isn’t working, you have to come up with something else.” Therefore she recommends you look for a teacher who has experience. It’s also not just about that though. “You also want to look for someone who is positive when you meet them, who is realistic, and who is honest about how much you need to practice.” You should also feel like you’re in a safe environment to learn. “You want a comfortable studio and you want someone who you feel listens to you.” No matter what, she says, you don’t want any kind of yelling or disparaging. “I’ve studied with people who are harsh,” she says, “and I just don’t believe that works.”


Understand That Singing is About a Lot More Than Just Singing

“I spend 30 minutes of the lesson working on exercises and then 30 minutes on the repertoire and songs,” Thomas says. And one of the first exercises she gives is about breath. “You have to understand how you breathe because there’s a steady stream of air that has to be expelled in a controlled way in order to sing correctly.” She says a lot of time tension in the jaw gets in the way, so she teaches exercise that change the muscle memory. Basically, if you want to become a better singer, you’re going to have to put some real work into it; it’s not all fun and song.

Be Honest About How Much Time You Can Commit

Money and time will probably both be factors into how much you can really put in to your singing lessons. Thomas says most of her students come once or twice a week and that she suggests they practice for at least an hour every day. “You really need to work on the exercises,” she says. However, a lot of people don’t understand how to practice, so that’s something else she teaches them. After all, she says, “The people that make fast progress are the people you know are practicing.” Lessons in New York City can be anywhere from $65/hour to $100-200/hour, which means some people can only afford to come every other week. “That’s okay,” Thomas says, “as long as you are committed and work in between.”

Remember: Anyone Can Take and Benefit from Singing Lessons

Thomas says, “I had one student who wanted to put on a one woman cabaret show for her 80th birthday party. We worked for about three or four months and I didn’t help her technically as much as I worked with her dramatically. She wanted to do something that was personal and I just helped guide her and give her confidence. And she did a wonderful job.”

Pamela Thomas is a singing teacher in New York City with over 30 years of experience. You can find her on her website, Pamela Thomas Vocal Studio, and on Thumbtack.

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​​​​​​​A Valuable Article by David Jones on Selecting a Voice Teacher, May 4, 2019

Reprinted with permission - visit David Jones' site at voiceteacher.com for other valuable articles.

​​​​PICTURED ABOVE:  Lally Ross (Acting Coach), Woody Regan (Accompanist), Kate A McGrath, Hanna Martin, Jena Goldberg, Emily Via,

Pamela Thomas (Music Director and Voice Teacher), Jhakai Deshong, Jeanie Columbo, Emily Suuberg, Martin Richard Borromeo

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​​​​​​​NEXT VOICE CLASS: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 24TH 6:30-8:30pm


FUTURE VOICE CLASS: TUESDAY, MARCH 10TH 6:00-8:00pm


The classes will be held at:

Good Shepherd-Faith Presbyterian Church

152 West 66th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue and 1 block from the #1 train MTA stop.


​This class focuses on acting/interpretation and communicating to the audience.  And since the audience for the class is made up of your fellow students everyone is positive and supportive.​


If you would like information about attending please contact me.  The cost is $30.​​

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Articles/LATEST NEWS

​​​​​​​So You Want to Take Singing Lessons? Here’s How to Find a Great Instructor
April 15, 2016 by Thumbtack Editors ​

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​​​​​​​WE HAD A GREAT RECITAL  SATURDAY, JUNE 29TH, 2019 , 7:00PM

At Studios 353 - 353 West 48th Street, NYC 10036.  

​A GOOD TIME WAS HAD BY ALL - WONDERFUL SINGING AND A LOVELY LITTLE RECEPTION AFTERWARD

find your voice - and share it!

Pamela Thomas Vocal Studio

​​​​​​​​May 4, 2019: Searching for a New Teacher: Major Considerations

Searching for a new voice teacher and evaluating whether a specific studio is a good fit for you can be a daunting task. Frequently singers walk blindly into a voice studio because the teacher has a big name or because the teacher has ‘connections’ or because the teacher offers performance opportunities. While these may be considerations in rare circumstances, they are NOT the primary reason to choose a studio. The following list is designed to help singers to evaluate an instructor’s qualifications. My advice to any young singer? You are hiring the teacher for their expertise. Question! Question! Question! 

1. Does the instructor greet you and begin the session with a positive encouraging attitude?
2. Is the studio a welcoming space? Do you feel comfortable in the room and in the presence of the instructor? 
3. Are you allowed to ask questions? Remember, any instructor that does not allow questions is fearful, afraid someone is going to find out that they do NOT have all of the answers. In truth, no one has ALL of the answers, but he/she should have a pretty large ‘tool chest’ of vocal knowledge from which to draw.
4. Are you allowed or even encouraged to record the sessions? Listening to your sessions is your way of being part of the process and training your ear in problem-solving.
5. Does the instructor have a diagnostic ear, diagnosing vocal issues and offering clear concise ideas on resolution? Unless vocal damage is present, every vocal issue presents a physical blockage, and there is a physical solution to resolve it.
6. Are you given exercises that are designed to create a positive physical response, or are they simply designed to only warm the voice? I remember that Allan Lindquest had a physical reason for every exercise, whether to align the vowels acoustically, balance registration, release the body, balance breath flow, etc.
7. Taward the end of the session does the instructor give a clear overview of your challenges and does he/she offer homework for the next session in order for you to move forward in working on your own? I personally believe that an instructor is a guide, offering the singer concepts that can be worked during practice time.
8. Is there a clear list of goal-setting? Are goals outlined for you in terms of what to accomplish by what date? This profession requires that you goal-set and keep working toward that goal until it is achieved.
9. Is the instructor positive, consistently showing a positive centered personality, yet keeping high standards of learning? Remember the instructor needs to keep things friendly, yet on a high professional level. Also remember that emotionally imbalanced instructors can offer more problems than help.
10. Does the instructor focus on your process, or talk about himself or herself much of the time? Avoid these kinds of narcissistic personalities.
11. Are you happy about the ending of the session? Do you find that you have moved forward in your progress within the hour and do you feel you have been given ideas that can help you accomplish even more during the week?
12. For many singers, excellent teaching is collaborative. Does the instructor welcome collaboration or feel threatened by your knowledge when you ask a question or report your personal experience? Avoid instructors who are disinterested in your feedback. Remember it is YOUR voice and you NEED to be a part of the process. Otherwise an unhealthy dependency is encouraged.
13. Are you feeling positive in leaving the session, full of hope in moving forward in your process of development? How you feel at the end of the session is a vitally important sign of your psychological health in your learning process.
14. Avoid emotionally abusive teachers COMPLETELY!  They are not worth the limited knowledge that they may possess. Abusive teachers are terrified inside; afraid someone is going to find out their ‘inner game’. Psychological power-games have no place in the voice studio and NO ONE should try to wield power or dominate any singer. Work with teachers who are encouraging and excited about your process and who are proud of your accomplishments. 

Try to find an opportunity to watch an instructor teach either in a private lesson or master class before taking a lesson yourself. If you are looking at a school, remember to choose the teacher, NEVER just the school. Some faculties are more accomplished than others. Some name schools do not reflect the best faculty, and some may. But you need to evaluate the teaching level before attending any college or university.

Final Thought: Some singers totally give themselves over to an instructor who has a strong personality. You deserve to keep your personal inner strength during your study so that you can focus on your long-term goals. I discussed this at length with Johan Botha when we worked together. We worked collaboratively, which I find the most effective way to accomplish high level vocalism.

NOTE: Many concepts of this article were published in Classical Singer Magazine.

David Jones’ Book, “A Modern Guide to Old World Singing” is available at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, www.thebookdepository.com, www.amazon.de, and the ebook at www.bookshout.com. 

Best of luck in finding that perfect fit! THANK YOU to those dedicated diagnostic instructors who strive to help their students to move forward in their developmental process. Have a great day. David

​​​​​​​​The following article is a terrific interview with one of my students, Kate A. McGrath. I hope you check it out.  And thank you, Kate, for your kind words about your voice studies!


"...​I abandoned my voice for over a decade. The doubt I have is justified, I assure you. But I’m lucky to have a good work ethic and I’m old enough now that I don’t let doubt debilitate me. I treat singing like all of the art I attempt to create – it needs practice, education, and passion. I have a wonderful vocal coach, Pamela Thomas, who I see weekly. She’s superb: talented and trained in her own right, honest, pushes me but has faith in me. I consider her a friend as well who I want to make proud..."


To see the article, please click the button below:


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