Q: Why might studying with you be better than with someone else?
B.M./Voice Performance from #1 school of music, Indiana University.
Studied with Margaret Harshaw, the finest voice teacher of the 20th century
In-depth understanding of the voice and how it works on a physiological level
Proven ability to teach.
Superior musicianship and musicality
Great communicator who makes the complex understandable.
Decades of professional performance experience in multiple genres.
Decades of successful teaching experience.
Decades of voice pedagogy knowledge.
Bright & Cheerful
For more info: https://www.michaelrocchio.pro/biography
Q: How young is too young for lessons?
People are often surprised when I tell them I didn’t begin taking voice lessons until I was 17, and consider myself fortunate to have waited to begin my vocal journey. There are many reasons behind my decision not to take young students, all are in the interest of a child’s vocal health. Therefore, I don’t teach students younger than 16 unless I am able to determine that they have reached an appropriate level of mental and physical maturity.
Let's Talk! about your aspiring singer.
Q: How old is too old for lessons?
Assuming an undamaged voice, and general good health, you’re never too old to learn to sing! I’ve been singing for half a century (do the math) and, owing to excellent vocal technique, am singing better than ever. I have taught adults as old as 80 whose mental health and physical well-being were greatly enriched by the process. Voice lessons keep the mind sharp, and the body able. Do yourself a favor and learn to sing. Let's Talk!
Q: What is the profile of a successful student?
I have often been heard to say that I would sooner teach someone with a sharp intellect over someone with a perfect instrument (voice). Singing is a thinking-person’s endeavor. Here are a few of the qualities possessed by my most successful students:
Intelligent & quick-minded.
Honest with themselves and others.
Committed, dedicated, diligent, persistent.
A self-starter with the fire-in-the-belly to learn.
Open to change, ready, willing and able to experiment.
Comfortable in their own skin.
Able to be coached.
Full of life.
Is passionate about music.
Does this sound like you? Let's Talk!
Q: Do I have to audition to join your studio?
Audition? No. Following our initial phone conversation, we will meet for a paid vocal assessment lesson to determine your vocal health, evaluate your skill level, aptitude and experience, and give us a chance to know if we’re a good fit. Ready to go? Let's Talk!
Q: Do I need to be able to read music to begin voice lessons?
No, but you should be willing to learn. Music is a language, and a body of important skills. To be a proficient singer, expand your musical horizon and enrich your experience you must be able to read and understand the language. When needed, I devote lesson time to music fundamentals, structure, and theory. Ready to become a musician? Let's Talk!
Q: Where are lessons taught?
My wife, Angela Marie Rocchio, https://angelamarierocchio.com, and I are both professional singers. The studio is in our home located in Ballwin, MO. Ready to sing? Let's Talk!
Q: Do you teach online?
Yes! In fact, I was the first classical singing teacher to do so. That makes me some kind of pioneer, doesn’t it? :-) Don't let distance hold you back. Let's Talk!
Q: What is a LIVE Online Lesson?
A live online lesson isn’t a pre-recorded one size fits all program. It is a real-time, interactive singing lesson via Internet/webcam. Want to give it a try? Let's Talk!
Q: Is an online lesson as effective as an in-person lesson?
Absolutely! And, thanks to rapid advances in communication platforms and related technology, it gets better every day. I have worked effectively with students located in the USA and around the world. Give it a try! Let's Talk!
Q: Do I need to audition in order to take online lessons?
Not an audition, but a consultation. If you are interested in studying online, complete the contact form (see the home page for the link). You will be contacted promptly and your initial consultation will be scheduled for a mutually convenient time. Let's Talk!
Q: What equipment will I need?
Have questions, or need clarification?
- A fast computer
A high-speed Internet connection
A quality webcam
Headphones, or a monitor system
A quality studio quality microphone is recommended
A video conferencing connection through Skype
Q: How long will my lesson be?
1 hour. Years of experience have proven that little can be accomplished in less time when trying to grasp the elusive concepts, and complex coordinations involved in singing.
Q: When can I start lessons?
Assuming we have determined we are a good fit, and that I have an opening that meshes with your schedule, you may start anytime. If it is in the middle of a term I will pro-rate your tuition accordingly. Let's Talk!.
Q: When do you teach?
Monday: 10am - 7pm
Tuesday: 10am - 7pm
Wednesday: 10am - 3pm
Thursday: 10am - 7pm
Friday: 10am - 5pm
Saturday: 10am - Noon
Please Note: Days/Times are subject to change. For current availability, Let's Talk!
Q: What are lessons like?
Terrifying! Just kidding. Lessons are focused, fun, enjoyable, relaxed and supportive. You'll have a great time learning.
Q: I’m a complete beginner. What will happen to me?
You’ll fall in love with singing and your ability will grow week-by-week.
Q: I’m terrified of singing in front of anyone…can lessons help me?
Absolutely. Speaking in public has long been one of, if not THE, thing people fear most. Even more than death! Singing in front of others is that same fear on steroids Why? Because we have a deathly fear of being ridiculed. So, it’s understandably scary at first for many to sing in front of anyone who they fear is evaluating them. Even, or maybe especially, their teacher. Very quickly you’ll realize that I'm not looking to harshly criticize you, but to teach you; that I’m totally on your side. During your lessons we're a team. You’ll find yourself at ease very quickly. Then as you learn more about your voice and develop better technique your confidence increases easing your stage fright. Hey, I’ve experienced stage fright, too. I understand. I will teach you how to positively channel the fear. Let's Talk!
Q: Will I need to purchase any additional materials?
At first, all you will need is a 3-ring binder and pencils to bring to every lesson. As you progress you will, from time to time, be asked to purchase reference books and/or sheet music. Questions? Let's Talk!
Q: Will I need a piano? What if I don't have one?
For your home practice you will need a good pitch reference. If not a piano, a keyboard, or even a guitar, if you play well. Concerns?
Q: Do I need to take a lesson every week?
If you’re not a pro coming to me for performance artistry coaching, yes. Why? To ensure progress, and to prevent getting off course. The smallest deviation can drastically affect outcome. For example, an aircraft just one degree off course:
For every degree you fly off course, you will miss your target by 92 feet for every mile you fly.
For every 60 miles you fly, you will miss your target by one mile.
Flying from JFK to LAX will put you nearly 50 miles off course.
Flying around the equator will land you almost 500 miles off target.
Learning to sing has the same potential for getting off course. Net result: poor progress and wasted money. So, a weekly lesson, or two, will keep you on course, and provide a greater return on your investment in yourself. The more frequently new habits are correctly reinforced, the faster and more efficiently you will learn them, and the better you’ll sing.
Concerns? Let's Talk!
Q: Should I take more than 1 lesson per week?
Famed New York City Opera soprano, Beverly Sills, said two things in her autobiography, Bubbles, that answer this question: "There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”, and, “Take as many lessons as you can afford.”
Q: Will I be expected to practice at home? How much?
Yes, of course. If you are practicing correctly at home you will make rapid progress. If you don’t, or are not practicing as prescribed, your progress will suffer. I will teach you how to practice, and design an effective regimen specific to your needs. Beginners will invest approx. 30 minutes per day. Advanced students will invest more time. Let's Talk!
Q: How soon will I notice improvement?
Most students notice improvement at their first lesson. The rate of improvement varies from singer to singer, depending on your previous experience, how much and well you practice, etc. Let's talk!
Q: How long will I need to take lessons?
“The human voice is the most beautiful instrument of all, but it is the most difficult to play.”
- Richard Strauss
Singing is an art and science that can be studied for a lifetime. I’ve been singing for 50 years and I’m still learning every day. How fast you progress depends on where you begin vocally, how far you want to go, and your willingness to practice. Every person is unique, there is no magic formula. Suffice it to say that the further a person wishes to go, the more they are committed to refining their art, the longer they will study. That said, just as a good parent wants their children to be better than they are, the goal of a great teacher is to have their student become the maestro. Their goal should never be to make you dependent on them for the rest of your life. Want to know more? Click here.
Q: What if I begin lessons then decide I don’t want to continue?
This is precisely why we meet for a vocal assessment lesson. If you choose to proceed, we are making a commitment to one another; a promise. I will keep mine, and expect my students to do the same. https://www.michaelrocchio.pro/tuition
Q: If my schedule changes, may I change my lesson day/time?
Should that need arise, students already studying with me will have first choice at new times if, and as they become available. Questions?
Q: Will I have to, or have the opportunity to perform such as a recital?
I encourage, but do not require my students to perform. However, every student has their own reason, or need to sing better. Many of my students are professionals, or very dedicated amateurs who have many opportunities to perform. Others don’t have opportunities to perform, but would like to. Some want to be prodded to publically perform. Still others have no interest in performing solo, but sing in a choir and want to be the best choral singer they can be. A few would sooner crawl over ground glass than do a recital. Which are you? Whichever you are, my agenda is your agenda. Let's talk!
Q: I have already been taking lessons, will I have to start at the beginning?
No matter how experienced a singer you are, I start with the fundamentals to make sure we have a solid foundation on which to build. I will not “pave over a swamp.” That’s why the tower in Pisa leans and must be continually buttressed! Once I’m sure we’re on bedrock I will tailor a plan of study specifically for you.
Q: What types of singing do you teach?
The technique you will learn in my studio is solid, and proven to maintain vocal health; the ‘real deal.’ The genre, or style in which you choose to put it to use is up to you. Personally, I have sung and/or do sing everything from opera, to rock, oratorio, jazz, early music, sacred, musical theatre, Neapolitan songs, even Tibetan overtone and throat singing all without vocal damage because my technique is fundamentally sound. Beyond that, I will coach you in performance artistry; how to make the music you choose to sing come to life and touch the listener.
Q: Do you offer group lessons?
I teach a workshop several times a year called Fundamentals of Singing for choral groups, schools, churches, etc. The group finds me as opposed to me scheduling group lessons. If you have a group you'd like to sing better, Let's talk!
Q: Do you record lessons?
Yes. I use studio-quality equipment to produce a digital Mp3 file which I send to you. That way you can take your lesson every day, if you wish, thereby reducing the net cost of a lesson dramatically. Very cost-effective! ;-)
Q: Are singing lessons and voice lessons the same thing?
Confusing, isn’t it? But, it’s just semantics. Here are some distinctions that may help:
Voice Teacher, Singing Teacher, Teacher of Singing: I use these terms interchangeably. People usually ask for “singing lessons”, but we in the profession sometimes call ourselves “voice teachers” or may advertise “voice lessons” because they teach you how to master the use of your instrument; your voice.
Vocal Coach: Concentrate on improving your song performance, I am both a voice teacher, and a performance artistry coach. I’ve worked with accompanists who were also great “vocal coaches”.
Speech Coach: The title “vocal coach” is sometimes used by professionals whose expertise is improving and strengthening the voice for public speaking and acting. I have helped public speakers, and executives of Fortune 100 who were struggling with vocal fatigue and diction.
Dialect Coach: A dialect coach teaches accents to actors
Q: I want to sound better but not lose my style. Can singing lessons help?
You are not alone in that wish. A great teacher, even though they may primarily sing music not in your chosen genre, will have the discernment and ability to develop your ability in a way that is appropriate for your voice type and applicable to your style without interfering with your vocal personality while giving you the tools and ability to branch out as an artist. A great teacher will help you understand your instrument and show you how to play it healthily no matter what you choose to sing. Tell me your concerns.
Q: Is a person born with the talent to sing, or not?
It depends on what you mean by “talent”, and “sing.” It’s true that some people are born with a wonderful voice that is clear, resonant; almost other-worldly. But, that doesn’t mean they will become great singers. Then, there are many born with a less-than-spectacular voice, who go on to have fantastic careers as singers. Can you think of anyone who fits this description?
Further, there are some people born with wonderful voices, but they lack musicality while others born with mediocre, even bizarre voices have an inate ability to sing in a manner that reaches into the soul of the listener. Know any of those? Let's talk!
Q: What is the difference between musicianship, and musicality?
Musicianship embodies things like tempo, rhythm, sight-singing, etc. It is a body of skills just about anyone can learn. Musicality, on the other hand, is a gift, You’ve got it, or you don’t. I know many musicans whose musicianship is staggering, but lack musicality. I also know musicians with astounding musicality whose musicianship leaves much to be desired. A musician possessed of both qualities is a consummate artist.
Q: Where does talent fit in?
I’ve heard teachers say talent is not really required to sing and that all you need is to study with him or her and you can be a great singer. Really? The truth is some people are born with an exceptional instrument. Certainly, anybody can learn to sing to the best of their personal ability. However, no amount of training is going transform your inherent voice.
I know a few great singers have never taken a lesson and are still going strong. However, I’ve also encountered exquisite natural voices that have deteriorated from lack of training, or worse have been destroyed by poor training. Conversely, some people with seemingly very little talent, or mediocre voices have worked very hard, found their niche, and built very respectable careers. Then, there are the singers with a natural gift who’ve worked hard, and trained their voices with the help of competent teachers. These are the artists who are absolutely unstoppable! Which are you? Let's talk!
Q: Why would a natural talent ever need lessons?
I recall an interview with Pablo Casals, one of, if not the the best cellist to ever grace the planet. He was 90 years old and still playing! The interviewer asked him, “Maestro, I understand you still practice. Why would the best cellist in the world still practice?” He replied, “Because I think I’m getting somewhere.”
The human voice evolves as we age. That’s why it’s obvious whether a person answering the phone is younger, or older. Wear, and tear. Cartilage that was flexible becomes brittle. The vocal muscles can become weak, or out of shape. For women, the menstrual cycle when young, and then menopause have a dramatic impact on the voice. So-called natural singers who haven’t had adequate training may not be prepared to deal with changes brought on by aging. The way they sang when young may now cause fatigue and vocal failure. All of us, no matter what we do, benefit from continuing education. What about you? Let's talk!
Q: I haven’t sung for quite some time. Can I get anywhere if I start up again?
Circumstances, or life imperatives can demand we shift our focus. Or perhaps, we just want a change of pace and direction. I’ve taught many talented adults who have taken a break from singing. The good news is you’ve got a foundation, even an advantage, or two, e.g., emotional maturity from all the life experiences you’ve had.
If you have the desire; the fire in the belly to do it, then get after it! Life is too short. No regrets! If you're ready, Let's Talk!
Q: I’ve had classical training, but I don’t want a classical career?
No problem. If you have a solid foundation in proper technique you can sing whatever you wish. Pat Benetar was classically trained and look what she went on to do. Jackie Ryan, one of the finest jazz singers and interpreters of song that I’ve ever heard has had the benefit of classical training. The list of others might surprise you. What do you want to do with your voice? Let's Talk!
Q: I only want to sing for a hobby. Is it worth it for me to train my voice?
Congratulations! The definition of an amateur is one who does something solely for love of doing it. What can be better than that? I challenge you to name even one thing you love doing that you came to enjoy even more when you learned how to do it better. Go ahead…I’ll wait. What matters is the happiness singing well will bring you, not whether you get paid to do it. For many this is infinitely more satisfying than the rigors of a professional career. If voice lessons will make you a better singer, and if singing better will make you feel good about yourself and bring greater happiness into your life, don’t wait another minute.
Do something wonderful for yourself and go for it! Let's Talk! about how.
Q: If I take voice lessons from you, will I sound like an opera singer?
Good question. Not unless you want to.
I’ve never heard of anyone who lifts weights for simple muscle toning suddenly exclaim, “Wow! I look like Schwarzenegger! How did that happen?” Pumping iron can increase muscle mass, but looking like Arnold takes a major goal-oriented commitment to many hours in the gym every day, and highly regimented dietary practices. The same applies to building a voice that has the sound and stamina of an opera singer. Operatic singing requires a singer to project their un-amplified voice through a wall of sound produced by an orchestra and sustaining the effort for hours at a time, several times a week. Much like an high-performance athlete, opera singers invest years of hard work, blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice to perfect their technique, sound, artistry, and opportunities. I assure you that a true operatic sound will not happen by accident. What are your vocal hopes? Let's Talk!
Q: What technique do you teach?
The healthiest singing technique, “Bel Canto” (beautiful song). It’s roots are in the Florentine Camerata of 1600 and has been evolving ever since. It is the healthiest and most adaptable technique; the real deal, as I call it. Once you’ve gained facility with the technique you can adapt it to all styles of singing. It’s that versatile. I always know when a singer has been well-trained in Bel Canto, no matter their genre.
Just as there are great, and not-so-good teachers, there are healthy and unhealthy singing techniques, no matter the chosen genre. Unqualified teachers and unhealthy technique can be the ruin of your voice and aspirations. Avoid both! Want to know more? Let's talk!
Q: I’ve been told I have pitch problems. Can you help me?
Yes! Pitch problems are almost always indicative of technique issues. Tell me more.
Q: Am I tone deaf? How can I know if I’m tone deaf?
Since only one in ten thousand people are truly tone deaf, I doubt that you are. Tone deaf people don't have inflection in their voices when they speak. This means that they don't vary pitch when they speak (monotone). Normally, when we ask a question, the pitch rises on the last vowel. Try this test: Say the word, "really?" as though you were asking a question. Was the last syllable higher in pitch than the first? If so, you aren’t tone deaf. If you weren’t able to tell, perhaps you are. That said, I’ve taught a couple of people who’s early education didn’t include music of any sort, so they were never ‘wired’ to match pitch. I wired them. Now they can. Want to know more? Let's Talk!
Q: What styles of singing do you teach?
I teach proper singing technique, and offer Performance Artistry coaching in all styles. What are your goals?
Q: Can you teach me how to sing in foreign languages?
Definitely! Nothing sets a singer above the rest than excellent language and diction skills. It's the first thing I look for when adjudicating. I have studied and/or sung in Spanish, Italian, German, French, Russian, Hebrew, Portuguese, Czech, etc. Which interest you most?
Q: Do you teach Opera, and in what languages?
Yes! Italian, German, French, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, etc. Why do you ask?
Q: Is there a healthy way of singing with vocal fry, or grit?
In my opinion, there is no healthy way of executing vocal fry, glottal pop, or grit without vocal damage, especially if you over-do it. These embellishments are like Cayenne pepper. They should be employed sparingly even if you think you know how to do it correctly, or you'll get burned! Let's Talk!
Q: My voice goes hoarse after 2 hours of singing! Can you help me?
I'm so sorry to hear this. Yes, I can help you. As I mentioned earlier, many of my students are professional singers who sing for hours every day. I sing all day long while teaching, and into the night at rehearsals. It’s all about proper technique. With great technique, the voice doesn’t fatigue. I can teach you how to sing for extended amounts of time without fatigue, or going hoarse. When you're ready to leave that horrible problem behind, Let's Talk!
Q: Can you tell if I might have vocal damage?
If you suspect you do, you just might. During a vocal assessment lesson if I suspect there may be damage I will refer you to a highly competent ENT who specializes in treating singers for diagnosis. If you do, coming back from vocal damage can be a long, arduous journey requiring rehabilitation. Let's Talk!
Q: What can I do to prevent vocal damage?
Take lessons to learn proper technique.
Q: I've had lessons in Bel Canto technique before, but still have vocal issues?
How many lessons would I have to take in order to hear an improvement? I’ve had singers come to me who were told they were taught Bel Canto by former teachers, yet experienced disappointing results. There are a number of possible reasons:
The teacher may have said, or thought they were teaching Bel Canto, but weren’t competent. Based on my observations, students who have been competently taught experience tremendous improvement.
The student misunderstood, didn’t practice, or wasn’t able to understand and actionalize what they were being taught.
In any case, no matter how great the teacher’s technique, it is useless if it cannot be communicated such that the student can wrap their head around the concepts, and execute.
Q: Is there a specific tea, or food that helps improve the voice?
Singers are among the most supertitious people I’ve ever encountered. There is no magic bullet! Let me make this easy…stay hydrated, eat a healthful, balanced diet, and take moderate exercise. Avoid foods that produce phlegm before singing. Let's Talk!
Q: Does drinking olive oil improve your voice?
Q: Is coffee bad for your voice?
As long as you stay well-hydrated, moderate consumption of coffee is fine.
Q: Is alcohol bad for your voice?
In my opinion, alcoholic beverages taken in moderation during your leisure hours are fine. But, never before singing. Be advised that straight hard alcohol can inflame the vocal mechanism! I However, there is a direct correlation between alcohol abuse and vocal abuse and vocal “weakness." Warning! The effects of heavy drinking can last a few days.
Q: Will doing cardio-pulmonary exercise help me sing better?
Certainly! However, exercising without improving your singing knowledge, and skills will have little, to no effect on how well you sing. There's a right/wrong way to breathe when exercising just as there is in singing. The wrong way can cause irritation and encourage bad habits. Want to know more? Let's Talk!
Q: My voice has no vibrato. Can you help me?
Yes. Vibrato is a naturally occurring phenomenon. I’ve taught many students how to allow it to happen. Manufactured forms of vibrato (think: Cowardly Lion, or on the other end of the spectrum, a goat bleating) are awful to hear and not good for the voice. There actually are teachers who teach manufactured vibrato. Yikes! I can help! Let's Talk!
Q: My vibrato is too fast/too slow. Can it be fixed?
Yes, with proper training. I can help you. Let's Talk!