Is Sharmila Guha the Right Voice Teacher for You?
Get to know Sharmila better with this in-depth, informative interview.
Q: Hi Sharmila! Can you start by telling me for how long have you been teaching voice?
A: My first public performance as a singer was at 3 years old, and I have been performing ever since then. I took piano lesson from the age of 6 through high school. My formal vocal training began when I was 11 years old and continued through college. I have been a voice instructor since 1997.
Q: For any student looking to find a music instructor, what do you feel
you bring to the table that distinguishes you from other voice teachers?
A: I always strive to be patient with people, especially beginning students. It is also very important for me to remember that no two people are alike. I strive to keep in mind each student's individual strengths and weaknesses, to encourage them to learn from their mistakes, while pointing out their growth as they improve. Remembering what it was like to be a student myself, I know how frustrating it can be when trying to understand concepts and techniques. I like to make lessons fun and make it something that people look forward to.
Q: Tell us the main reasons you hear students stating for wanting to
take voice lessons.
A: There are a number of reasons why people want to learn how to sing. Some of the more common ones are that they want to better their craft as a performer, that they want an artistic outlet to their everyday life, or because they have always loved to sing but never had a chance to pursue this musical avenue until now.
Q: What are the most common challenges you've observed beginners facing
in learning to sing?
A: Breathing, breathing, and breathing. Discipline. There are always challenges when learning any instrument. There are a few very common problems that most people face when it comes to singing. The biggest problem is breathing. The second is thinking and trying too hard. Paralysis by analysis. We must remember singing is expression, and we must let go to some degree. The third is getting used to doing new/different things to make new/different sounds. As a singer, being self-conscious can be detrimental to improvement.
Q: What is your approach to helping students overcome these challenges?
How can you help them?
A: Breathing exercises, some stretching. Teaching how to release. Making student feel comfortable enough to let go, experiment, not be afraid of making strange new sounds.
Q: How much time should a beginning student be ready to devote to
practicing on a weekly basis, if they want to make good progress?
A: Minimum of 10 minutes, once or twice a day. Then more as they become comfortable and establish a routine.
Q: What is your favorite thing about teaching voice to adults?
A: To allow themselves to let go and not be so concerned or self-conscious about their own sound.
Q: What is your favorite thing about teaching voice to children?
A: To see how excited they get about music, especially the pride they feel when they improve.
Q: For parents, how long, on average, should they expect their child to
need to take music lessons before they can sing their first simple tune?
A: Each student is different, not only in sound, and learning ability, but also in discipline. The rate of improvement really depends on the students willingness to do focused practice everyday. Within the first few lessons, that progress can be easily assessed in the student's sounds and understanding of basic concepts.
Q: How will intermediate or advanced students benefit from coming to you
for further instruction? How can you improve their musical abilities and
satisfaction in singing the music they love?
A: As an advanced or intermediate student, it's assumed that basic technique is already in place. Of course, there's no harm in a little review. working on interpretation. Also, I would be able to delve a little deeper into interpretation and performance practice, depending on the style/time period of the piece. At this point, we can bring the concept of 'making music' to a much higher level.
Q: What local opportunities are there for your students to sing in a performance setting?
A: The studio puts on recitals several times during the year, which gives the students of all the teachers an opportunity to showcase the work they have done thus far. As a singer, there are a number of local venues that have open mike nights for people to do the same. There are venues that welcome many styles of music - rock/pop, jazz, classical, musical theater, etc. There are also a number of vocal ensembles, both professional and amateur, that students can audition for.
Q: To take our last question a step further, are there any local musical
venues where you have performed?
A: I have performed at many LA restaurants and clubs as a jazz artist. I also sing with the Los Angeles Master Chorale, which performs at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles.
Q: When do you know that you've succeeded with a student?
A: I know that I have succeeded with a student when I see their face light up after hearing their own sound blossom. I'm always tickled when they are shocked that the sound actually came from themselves!
Q: Please tell us about your formal music education and credentials.
Los Angeles County High School for the Arts
Graduate School of Education (music), UCSB
University of California, Santa Barbara ? Bachelor of Music
Jazz in July (2-week workshop at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with legendary jazz singer Sheila Jordan)
Q: What is the style of music you love singing best, on your own time?
A: I perform regularly in both classical and jazz settings. Although both style are very rewarding to me, jazz and improvisatory music is truly where my heart is.
Q: Please share the highlights of your performance/working experience.
A: Messiah solos, Studio work for film, Member of the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Jazz club performances in Southern California.
Q: I understand you're a recording artist, Sharmila. Where can I buy your recordings?
A: In 2008, I released my long-awaited and highly-anticipated debut jazz album If Music Be the Food of Love. Just click that link to
listen to sound clips, write a review, purchase the CD, or download the album, please visit http://cdbaby.com/cd/sharmilaguha. It is also available for download at iTunes and Amazon.com.
Q: How has music enriched your life?
A: Music has always been a mainstay in my life, and there are professional and aspiring musicians on all sides of my family. Since very early childhood, I've been surrounded not only by music but by all the arts. I remember our family hosting many home concerts - both planned and impromptu. It was a chance for camaraderie, artistic expression, and enjoyment. Music still continues to be a source of great joy and inspiration, both in my performing and teaching, and also in many other aspects in my life.
Q: What do you want students to get out of getting to work with you?
A: Enjoy music more than they did before, learn about their instrument, how to take care of it and use it correctly, and use it to express themselves musically and artistically.
Q: Can you share a free tip that prospective students can benefit from
A: Learning how to breathe correctly is one of the most important parts of singing. Without the breath, you have no sound. A good way to know whether or not you're breathing correctly is to analyze what your body does when you yawn. Pay attention to your jaw, your tongue, your throat, your shoulders, your torso, your whole body. All those sensations and movements should be emulated when you breathe to sing.
A little something more about Sharmila Guha, voice teacher at Music
Teachers on Main:
Although I teach many different styles of music, my teaching is based on 'classical' technique. I strongly believe that technique is not necessarily the same as style. Learning how to sing is about learning how to use your instrument correctly and safely. As a singer, that's most important, as it's easy to use your voice 'your instrument' incorrectly. Just like any other instrument, one must learn how the instrument works so that you can use it to its full potential, and so that you can sing for many, many years to come.
What students say about Sharmila:
"Sharmila's vast knowledge of music and singing as well as the numerous creative techniques she employs has enabled me to sing with confidence and see definite progress in my skills. I never thought I would enjoy singing this much! It has brought a new and very welcomed aspect to my life." - Tom Pastore
"I got to know Sharmila singing in the chorus of "I Pagliacci." Let me assure you that she can perform as well as teach! She invited me to a jazz gig, and after enjoying many gigs, my desire to sing jazz got stronger and stronger. But jazz is sophisticated, and has rules. How was I going to learn the ropes? I was talking to Sharmila after a gig once and she said she was teaching at Lori Moran Studio and would be happy to teach me Jazz 101. The rest is history: I'm taking classes in jazz theory and singing with Miss Sharmila, and I leave every lessons feeling like a cool million dollars! She's already "hipped" me to many little things I saw her and others do that I didn't understand, and I can see light at the end of the tunnel. What are you waiting for? Call her now." - Sherry Hutson
"Sharmila is a great voice instructor. I was a beginner when I started and had no previous experience. Through Sharmila's patience, encouragement, and great communication skills, my voice improved overtime. I had better breath control, increased range, and more confidence. I'm happy with my progress and look forward to becoming better, I would recommend Sharmila to beginners wanting to start and advanced students looking to improve. Thanks Sharmila!" - Danny Tang
"To find Sharmila was a big coincidence. I was searching for a good teacher to take jazz lessons [while on holiday in Los Angeles]. When I found a teacher, he recommended me to another, and the other recommended me to Sharmila. What an experience! Personal and professional. Patience, devotion, comprehension and sensitivity. The perfect mix to an ideal teacher." - Lidia Martinez, Spain
Contact Sharmila Guha To Set Up Your First Voice Lesson:
Call (626) 282-7605 or email email@example.com