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Frequently Asked Questions

Am I tone deaf? A choir teacher told me I was.

Adults often want to sing, but were told they were tone deaf or otherwise feel uncomfortable. Of the many adults who told us they were tone deaf, only two actually could not match pitch (and one of them put in the effort to learn how). The rest were just nervous and suffered bad technique. We enjoy teaching adults who are finally learning for the first time what their voices can do. This is one of our specialties. You will be amazed and delighted with how fast you can learn to really sing.

How old should my child be to begin voice lessons?

That depends on the child and the teacher. Children can start as young as three, if they are ready. (Many are not.)

Most teachers will not know what to do with young children. We take children 7 and over.

When parents of young children call us, we tell them to either to let the child sing unfettered by lessons (if lessons are primarily the adult's idea), or take them to an excellent teacher (if taking lessons is the child's idea and passion). We recommend Ann Thornton, to whom Merrill takes her own daughter.
Ann's number is: (602) 242-7763.

The caution in taking young children to lessons is that there are so many mediocre offerings, they can learn next to nothing or the wrong things and then the money and time are wasted. Stay and listen to a lesson occasionally and decide if you think the teacher is helping considerably more than practicing with a karaoke machine. If not, save the money for later, or find a better teacher now.

My teenager doesn't have a great voice but likes to sing. Is it a waste to spend money on lessons for him?

Teens are prime candidates for lessons. It builds confidence, exposes hidden talent and allows them to experience their body as a wonderful instrument as opposed to the awkward showcase many are experiencing. Because good breathing and posture go with singing, it also helps shape some good bodily habits. Singing can enrich a teen's life with beauty, and greater self acceptance, inner strength and self-expression. (It can, by the way, do the same for adults.)

In addition, great voices can be hidden by poor technique and lagging confidence. And many a great entertainment career has not required a great voice, but rather a great passion.

What about vibrato?

Some styles use it much more than others. A skilled singer knows how to create both straight sounds and vibrato sounds at will, with lots of tone or a little tone, and with a big or small sound. A good teacher knows how to teach how. Either sound - straight or vibrato - can be sung in a healthy way, or a way that damages the voice. The technique determines which.

How often should I practice?

6 days a week is ideal. Shorter, more frequent practices is better than longer, and less frequent practices. You are training new habits, and this takes consistency.


If you have unanswered questions, feel welcome to e-mail me at mlvoice[ at ], and I may answer it in on this web page or by private e-mail.

To book performances or lessons with Merrill Leffmann, call (480) 348-1607 or email at
mlvoice[ at ]