Recently on a discussion forum a young soprano wrote that she has come to the realization that she is aging out of the typical career path for a young classical singer. Many of us know this crossroads place. She said that she needs “to work out… where my exact weaknesses lie.” Here is my response:
If you have actively been involved in singing for the last decade and are not getting any performing opportunities, you are correct in needing to get better assessments immediately.
I am a voice teacher, but my first advice is: Do not try to get a frank career assessment from a voice teacher!
Look up three of the very best opera coaches you can find, preferably those currently attached to opera companies, and book an hour with each of them. Go in with a clear statement of what you need. “I would like to pursue a career as a classical singer. I need a frank assessment of where I stand today and what I need to do to be a viable professional.” See what the coaches agree or disagree on. One outlying comment may be insignificant, or it may be a key to learning more. However, it is likely that they will agree on a core of ideas about where you are and what needs to happen. Ask them if they know any voice teachers who would be good at helping with the identified issues. Make sure that you record these sessions and listen to them more than once.
AFTER you have done this, look for voice teachers. Go into a first lesson with the same question and purpose. The teacher needs to 1) come up with the same general ideas that the coaches expressed and 2) be able to teach. The coaches’ input will give you clues about criteria to seek in a teacher. Did the teacher seem to have helped others who where in your situation? Does the teacher have a plan for technical work? How do they express their assessment of your developmental needs?
If you go from teacher to teacher, as most seekers do, you will be likely to waste a lot of time, because good teachers are few. Put more charitably, the teacher that can help you with your issues will be much harder to find if you don’t know exactly what your issues are. Teachers tend to assess according to what they know and have to offer, not according to the needs of the market.
Best wishes to you!