Jerome Hines as Wotan

One of Marc’s mentors, Jerome Hines, pictured here in his role as Wotan from Wagner’s Ring Cycle.

Select from the list of Frequently Asked Questions below:


No mic needed…why is that important?No Mic Needed Standard

One goal of NPVS is to provide singers with a technique that allows them to perform in any venue, virtually any genre of music, in an acoustic setting with no amplification. This has been the standard in fine singing for centuries, and is a tradition we will endeavor to carry forward. This manner of singing creates a versatile, confident individual that can sustain long periods of vocalizing with little fatigue. Microphones are used for recording purposes…also, just because our singers don’t need mics, doesn’t mean they can’t use them!

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What separates your studio from others who teach voice?
NPVS uses a mechanistic, gimmick-free approach with little imagery. It’s a no-nonsense, effective and efficient system that is easily understood and produces real results.

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What about this FREE lesson…is it a waste of time?
The first lesson is FREE and lasts about an hour. It is an opportunity to meet, chat, sing and teach a bit. It is during this meeting that individuals learn about singing technique, and the methodology NPVS employs for teaching it. A prospective singer will usually leave an initial meeting with at least 2 or 3 new tools to use towards better singing.

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What does a lesson look like…what actually happens?
All singers generally “warm up” for a few minutes by singing simple phrases. Depending on experience, this is a time for the singer to begin learning, or continue to learn technique. The warmed up voice is then applied to singing songs. The first few pieces of sheet music are provided by the studio at no cost to the student. In our studio, the teacher will often sing along with the student, at least for awhile. This instills a high level of confidence, and aids in speeding along the learning process. Songs are taught as a collection of musical phrases, individually learned then joined together. There is a great deal of attention paid to breath, support, relaxation, strength and language. Along with technique, you will learn new songs, sight reading, performance skills and both vocal and musical interpretation.

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Do I have to be a trained musician…do I have to read music and understand notation?
No, and no…you will find yourself learning various musical skills and also about notation as we continuously teach musicianship along with vocal technique.

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How long does it take to become a good singer, how often do I have to practice?
It takes a lifetime to become great, a little less to become good. Actually, there is no way of determining this, as individuals learn and work at variable rates. NPVS teaches a method that is a mechanistic, hands-on approach. We stress physiology over imagery, and find this to generally be an efficient and relatively quick road to success. There is no magic wand, however, that can be waved over a student to speed up the process. With good teaching on our part, and committed work on the singers’ part, the process can, and often does move along at a surprising pace.

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Help! I’m sure I’m tone deaf…my family and friends claim this to be true. Should I even bother?
Very likely there are those in the world for whom pitch will always be elusive, but we have yet to meet an individual that has not eventually learned to hear pitches and sing in tune. The art/science of developing in this area is called “Ear Training”. Should you even bother? Let’s just say we love a good challenge…

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What type, style, genre, or idiom of music do you teach?
NPVS teaches a technique that creates a secure, versatile core of a voice. From this core of stability, most kinds of music can be performed. We initially use classical music and musical theater selections in our training, but strive to be inclusive, introducing other musical styles of interest to each individual. Our goal is that most singers will perform in our Opera Workshop.

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What is “Technique”…what is “Method”?
“Technique” is a term used to describe the mechanics one employs to achieve a sound vocal instrument. “Method” refers to a specific way in which technique is taught. At NPVS, we employ a method uniquely developed by Mr. Clark.

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What kind of stuff will I learn?
Students will experience vocal development, singing skills, musical appreciation and general musicianship.

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Which days of the week and hours of the day do you teach?
The studio is usually open from 11:00AM till 8:00PM, Monday – Thursday; we finish up earlier on Fridays, about 5:00PM. We are not currently open for weekend lessons. Lessons are about 1½ hours in duration.

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Why does a lesson last about 1½ hours?
We are here to work and have come to find that for most singers an hour is just too little time. We do tend to shorten lessons for younger students, or older students who find longer lessons exhausting. As stamina develops, lesson lengths tend to increase.

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Where are you located?
Our studio is located in North Portland, Oregon, one block North of Peninsula Park on the NW corner of N. Albina Ave. and North Dekum St.
Our corner is a #4 Fessenden bus stop, and there is a sign out front…You can’t miss us!

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Why are your lessons so inexpensive…$40.00 a lesson…really!?
$40.00 a lesson…what the…really!? Please, do some comparative shopping. We are inexpensive, not cheap. Our philosophy is to have as many singers developing as we have time available. Having only 1 or 2 singers able to afford studying at $150.00 an hour seems, to us, a most unsatisfying experience.

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What is the difference between a Voice Teacher and a Vocal Coach?
A Voice Teacher teaches technique, a Vocal Coach teaches songs and sometimes operatic/musical theater roles. There are also Language, Speech and Acting Coaches, as well as other performing coaching/teaching specialists. NVPS incorporates both Teaching and Coaching, in an effort to produce well-rounded performers.

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What is the Opera Workshop, and am I eligible?
The NVPS Opera Workshop‘s primary goal is to provide our studio singers a performing outlet. Singers will perform arias, duets, ensembles and scenes from opera and musical theater. Interested in joining? Contact us at npvocalstudio@gmail.com, we’d love to chat with you!

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Why do I need to be at least 15 years old to take voice lessons?
This is a topic we take most seriously…we are somewhat flexible where age is concerned, as such age designations are a bit arbitrary. However, the demands of vocal study are both mental and physical, and pre-adolescents are generally ill-prepared for such work. Because maturation and growth are inconstant variables, we will consider each students’ age for training on an individual basis. The method employed to teach singing at NPVS is somewhat rigorous and requires a certain level of commitment of consistent rehearsal and training.

We do encourage music in the lives of children from the earliest possible moment. Listen to all types of music. Have easily playable instruments (penny whistle, harmonica, recorder, etc.) readily accessible (though not unsupervised for toddlers…falling with a sharp instrument in one’s mouth could be disastrous). Keyboards, stringed instruments of all types (ukuleles are excellent), even simple percussion at hand are great tools in developing musical “ears” and early musicianship skills. Encourage musical instrument training such as private lessons or a school or community band or orchestra. And “YES”…have them sing…always! Choirs (school, church, community, etc.), ensembles, theater groups, with the family…solo around the house with the radio or some children’s recorded songs…these are all important. There are those who specialize in teaching music to children with an emphasis on vocal training, but we cannot personally vouch for them.

Music is proven to have a dramatically positive influence in the life of an individual, affecting many aspects of development. We love the notion of being a part of that, we just want to do so at an appropriate age and point in time. Please, feel free to contact us in further regards to this, or any other topic.

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