What is special about taking voice lessons from an instructor who is also a world-class veteran singer, such as Heidi Skok?
Heidi Skok has had a TREMENDOUS vocal journey of all kinds of experiences. Even though she had wonderful vocal help over the years from a handful of good teachers, she has had to learn for herself how her voice works. There is a big difference working with someone as a teacher who has hardly stepped on a stage outside of college and a veteran professional singer who has the in-depth, personal experience of the hardships a singer will encounter professionally. Heidi Skok has not only worked herself free from vocal problems and issues but taken the steps towards sharing this with other singers by developing her very own solid vocal technique. Heidi Skok has LIVED the journey. Because she sang in the wrong vocal range for so long, Heidi ultimately experienced an array of problems that included vocal nodes. This was how she discovered that she really was not a soprano. Heidi had to work her way through all of the real-world challenges to gain this incredibly valuable knowledge of her own voice in addition to understanding of how voices must be prepared to meet the challenges of a professional singer. Teachers who have actually experienced such a full, demanding, intense career as a vocalist that it finally produced vocal trouble for themselves – and yet “fought through the trenches” to solve their vocal problems – make the best teachers. These real-world experiences have made Heidi Skok extremely knowledgeable, having spent nearly 30 years singing with some of the greatest singers from all over the world.
Heidi has the ability to plug formal vocal technique into all genres. She creatively teaches by uniquely incorporating the use of a variety of auxiliary tools with the REST™ Toolkit that she has researched and applied to vocal development. Heidi Skok is patient and able to explain concepts in many different ways so that the student can understand and put the work into action. Her experience allows her to insightfully determine a student’s present needs at their current state of vocal development, and to precisely meet the needs that are being presented to her.
You are known as an opera singer. Do you teach any other music genre besides opera?
Yes. Heidi Skok has the ability to plug formal classical vocal technique into all genres. She creatively teaches by uniquely incorporating the use of a variety of auxiliary tools that she has researched and applied to vocal development. Heidi Skok is patient and able to explain concepts in many different ways so that the student can understand and put the work into action. Her own experience as a trained vocalist who also sings pop, jazz and contemporary gives her the insight to determine a student’s present needs at their current state of vocal development, and to precisely meet the needs that are being presented to her in any genre.
Heidi Skok’s Personal Journey of Vocal Development
Heidi started her singing life with pop music and only gravitated into Classical style and opera when her voice teacher guided her there after having learned to really utilize head voice at a very young age. And, after a successful opera career as a soprano, Heidi went back to her low voice roots as a mezzo and has gotten back to singing pop music. Utilizing her own classical technique which she has developed, Heidi has a great low belt to her pop and now successfully teaches other singers how to belt.
Why do I need to take lessons if I can already sing?
Everyone needs to learn how their voice technically functions even if they are a good natural singer. A singer who has not done this, when they inevitably begin to work on something that’s really challenging, they will begin to run into any variety of standard problems related to over strain with their voice. And over time, with a lot of singing for long periods, fatigue can set in, deeper problems can surface and voices can stop working properly. Every singer at some point must learn how to technically use their voice correctly, or they will have to learn their way out of a problem. Relying on untrained natural talent is not wise, risking vocal health, and is not a good and solid foundation to build a career upon. The technical training necessary requires that a student learn from an instructor, either working directly with them in person or via video conferencing services. Students who intend to pursue a formal career in the classical or operatic genres have found it an absolute requirement to attend 4 to 6 years of secondary education before approaching an audition for work in a national-level opera house. Because, for an opera singer, their voice must not only be able to be very versatile with great range, but must also be heard without a microphone sometimes over great distances when performed live. For a singer like this, whose voice will be challenged night after night, only formal training could prepare them to sing for 2 or 3 hours straight. And with all due respect to every single other existing music genre, it is ONLY the technique used by classical singers that will enable a singer in ANY genre to use their voice with its fullest and most capable sound, with the endurance and strength that a heavily performing vocal artist requires. The classical technique is simply the single best way to give a singer basic, healthy command of their own voice – no matter what genre they actually sing. Having a good basic core vocal foundation becomes critical when any singer really begins singing frequently, performing on a nightly basis.
Is it possible to completely learn how to sing in 30 days like some advertisements promise?
No. If someone is telling you that you can learn how to sing great technically in one month of time, they are just not telling you the truth. It takes dedication and consistent practice over a long period of time to master your voice. Heidi Skok tells her students that they should expect to notice a big difference within 4-6 months. Skokstudio asks students to enroll for a year so that successful progress can be made during and beyond these early first steps.
Most students enroll with a Subscription Package Plan that provides one or two lessons each week of either 30 or 60 minutes, depending on the student’s development level and goals. At this pace, students taking Skokstudio’s “Basic Track” development path over the course of three to five enrollment years will take the equivalent amount of vocal training provided by a four-year college conservatory program in vocal performance.
However – more ambitious and determined singers at every development level can take Skokstudio’s Intensive Track development path that provides up to FOUR lessons every week, for up to 16 total hours each month. With this Intensive Track pace, a singer will see a remarkably fast progression of growth in vocal ability in a short period of only a few months. At Skokstudio, a student could choose to take an Intensive Track development plan curriculum that remarkably provides an even greater amount of vocal training than is available at an entire four-year college conservatory program PLUS a two-year post graduate program in just two years.
Even if it were possible for a student to take two lessons every day for all 30 days (which they cannot realistically even physically do), after two solid unbroken months of twice-daily lessons they might still only have had as much training as a college conservatory freshman in terms of hours of study. At professional level, there are very few things one can completely learn to do well in only 30, 60, or 90 hours of study or practice, and singing is absolutely not one of them. To claim that a vocalist can learn to sing well in this short amount time would falsely suggest that vocalists do not need much training at all, and it intentionally creates unrealistic expectations.
The simple truth is that 30 days is just not enough time to develop a voice that is ready for a healthy, active singing career. Singers should be well aware that just because enough people will gladly take your money to tell you something that sounds like what you want to hear, this does not make it true. Skokstudio does not enroll students just to tell them what they want to hear about vocal training or their rate of progress and development.
Can I come and go from lessons and still progress?
Students cannot consistently progress by only taking an occasional lesson. Weekly lessons are needed to make steady, forward progress. Singing is not a rudimentary, mindless activity like riding a bike, and singers who stop and start lessons are regrettably forced to admit that they found they kept having to “re-learn” what they did not work consistently long enough to retain. Skokstudio offers regular weekly lessons through enrollment for students which ensures that they will continue to advance. Skokstudio does however, also offer the occasional lesson to professional singers through Open Registration. These are lessons for established professional singers who are unable to enroll due to a performance schedule that does not permit a regular lesson attendance or who have reached such an advanced stage of development that they would no longer require an entire year of regular weekly “core” technical training.
Will I gain confidence and stage presence working with Skokstudio?
Yes, you will! While successfully using Heidi Skok’s REST™ Vocal Technique builds your self-esteem, Heidi also encourages you to accept your own talent, all of your abilities, and your freedom to express and love yourself. Singers and other professional voice users must be able to love themselves first and foremost in order for their talent and vocal abilities to be freely used. Heidi Skok additionally works on presentation skills, and then also works to instill in each voice user a love for expressing themselves to the world.
I’ve heard that the quality of online singing lessons can be poor. Can singing lessons over Zoom actually be as effective as in-person lessons with the technology that exists today?
YES. Our studio is outfitted with ultra-fast 600Mbps high speed internet and is equipped with a custom audio/video conferencing system that has been and optimized to work with Zoom. The Master Instructor works from an 82” screen that makes students appear “larger than life” to her in the studio. Most importantly, the studio has additionally carefully selected a few pieces of audio equipment and packaged them as the Enhanced Online Equipment Toolkit, which is also shipped to every student. The Toolkit boosts the online lesson sound quality to “better than being in person” audio clarity. Our studio also helps each student connect and configure the Online Toolkit with their home computer.
Can problems with my voice and technical issues be solved?
Yes. Heidi Skok has solved her own technical problems that included vocal nodules. She has switched from soprano to mezzo with her own voice and has solved technical issues in other singers also including vocal nodes, helping others to switch voice parts and learn how to understand how their voice functions. It is because of the deep vocal struggles that Heidi Skok endured, that she has such a depth of knowledge and understanding of the voice. She has worked with hundreds of voices over the years and has helped them find their way. Her REST™ Vocal Technique can address vocal problems and it helps singers solve their technical issues.
What kind of technical equipment will I need for Online lessons?
Skokstudio students taking lessons online will need to use a a laptop or desktop home computer with a webcam, which can be either a Mac or PC. Although many high school students have been issued a Chromebook for homework and have all been using them by default now on Zoom during “Stay At Home” schooling, they are not a device that would be selected for its ability to video conference well. Mobile devices and most institution-issued Chromebooks do not have enough resources to do an effective job. Additionally, the ChromeOS and mobile versions of the Zoom app do not have adjustable mic volume controls or other configuration settings necessary for the high-quality sound required for Skokstudio voice lessons. Mobile phones, tablets, and Chromebooks do not perform well enough to meet the minimum acceptable quality standard for video conferencing for Skokstudio voice lessons, and are not permitted.
Additionally, Skokstudio has selected three auxiliary pieces of audio equipment and packaged them as the Enhanced Online Equipment Toolkit, which is shipped to all newly Enrolled students. The Online Toolkit includes a pair of blue tooth headphones, a high-quality USB microphone, and a mic pop-filter. Our studio also schedules an online testing session with each student to help them set up and configure the Online Toolkit, making sure that every student’s equipment is properly functioning to our high standards. Each singer is instructed in detail how to configure their settings to make the best quality learning experience possible for online lessons over Zoom.