I want to sing like Taylor Swift —so why take traditional voice lessons?

Though  it seems that Taylor Swift’s singing and songwriting are just “natural,” they are in fact well-trained.  To start with, Taylor took voice lessons and acting lessons in New York with the hope of performing on Broadway.

“While many of her fans may not know this, Swift says she actually started out her career in acting, not music. “When I was growing up in Pennsylvania, auditioning for Broadway was my dream,” she dishes. “I went to several auditions in New York. I was always going there for vocal and acting lessons … and for auditions, where you stand in line in a long hallway with a lot of people… After a few years of auditioning in New York and not getting anything, I started writing songs. But I never lost my love for theater.””   Cooper, Brittany Joy (April 15, 2012). “Taylor Swift Opens Up About a Future in Acting and Admiration for Emma Stone”Taste of CountryArchived from the original on April 17, 2012. Retrieved April 17, 2012.

At age thirteen, already under “talent development” management, Taylor moved with her family to Nashville.  Her father worked for Merrill Lynch and got his job transferred to the Nashville office so that Taylor’s career could develop.) There Taylor studied with several songwriters and took a songwriting lesson every Tuesday for two hours with Liz Rose.  This became a lasting collaboration, and Rose is a co-writer of many of Swift’s songs.

So, back to the question:  why take  traditional voice lessons?

  • To learn the basics of breathing and tone production
    • Breath is what powers the voice, and there are many ways to adjust your mouth shape to make different kinds of sounds and make the words more understandable
  • To learn about your own voice type and optimize your range
    • Almost every beginning student who comes to me wants to improve their range, and most do, with lessons. I encourage students to find and develop their own unique sound.
  • To learn about the different vocal registers
    • What is chest voice? Head voice?  Belting?  Falsetto?
    • How do I switch? Where do I switch?  Why do I have weak notes in the middle?
  • To learn how to warm up your voice
    • As in any sport, a good warmup will help you perform your best. Learn how long you should warm up and what exercises to use.
  • To learn how to deal with vocal challenges in a song
    • That one long phrase that you can’t make to the end.
    • That one high or low note that just isn’t working.
    • That one phrase that goes through the break and you cannot smoothe out.
  • To increase your vocal stamina in performance
    • Good vocal technique helps your voice not to tire so quickly.
  • To learn how to care for your voice, maintain vocal health, and avoid injury.
    • Your voice is with you 24/7, and how you treat your body and health can have a good or bad effect on the voice. Learn what really matters.
  • To increase your vocal longevity and endurance.
    • Many of those who become stars do so because they don’t burn out their voice.
    • The really good singers keep their voice and their vocal quality for decades.

Take note,  Taylor is in terrific shape.  To practice for her Eras tour, Taylor daily got on a treadmill and sang all the songs from the three-hour show while running (for fast songs) or walking/jogging (for slow songs).

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