Yes, there really is a difference!
There are a lot of similarities between song teachers and music teachers. For instance, they teach a variety of instruments, they teach students to play and/or sing their favorite songs, and they may also teach at a local music store, in a home studio, or travel to the student’s home.
Obviously, a portion of the lesson time should be spent learning favorite songs as that is, most likely, the primary reason for a student to wish to take lessons in the first place! However, teachers who concentrate all of the lesson time on learning songs by rote, rather than developing the student’s overall musicianship are the ones I refer to as song teachers.
I feel they do a great disservice to the student. I have encountered many former students of song teachers in my career. Some of these students have studied for years and can play/sing many songs quite well. Unfortunately, these same students are at a loss when given new material to learn on their own because they lack basic skills.
My advice to anyone interested in voice or instrumental lessons is to find a true music teacher. Your music teacher will offer instruction in reading and writing notation, music vocabulary, sight reading, ear training, foreign language, and performance technique. Most importantly, your music teacher will encourage you to apply what you have learned to the study of new material.
This is quite a bit to fit into a half hour, or even an hour, music lesson so it is quite common to spend more time on one skill than another, but all of these elements aid the student in attaining musical proficiency. What I seek to do with my students is combine the so called lesson pieces with appropriate materials of the student’s choice. This keeps each lesson both educational and fun!
If you are a young singer and do not play an instrument, the best advice I can give you is that you learn to play one. Piano playing is one of those basic skills that will be required should you desire to continue your studies at a higher level, but any instrument you like will do. Learning to play an instrument is invaluable to your study of singing as well as in obtaining professional work.
I wish you the best of luck as you pursue your musical studies. If you have any questions, comments, something you’d like to discuss, or have an interest in studying with me, please get in touch.