Tak Iwasaki as an Educator
Tak graduated the City College of New York in Jazz Vocal Performance with honors in 2017, studying voice and improvisation with Suzanne Pittson, Carolyn Leonhart, Steve Wilson, and also studied Big Band Composition with Mike Holober.
He has also been through training in all levels of the Somatic VoiceWork(TM) The LoVetri Method, a certification program for voice teachers, specifically designed for the pedagogy of the singer's voice.
Somatic VoiceWork is based on one of the most up-to-date scientific research, focusing on the "Function" of voice. Tak is also a member of the Somatic Voice Work Teachers Association.
He has also worked with many of the Speech Level Singing Masters, and has gained much knowledge and experience through it.
Performing as a singer being Tak's main career, he has had the privilege to teach over 200 singers in the past 8 years.
Back in Japan, he was a voice teacher at the BMF Music Factory, teaching voice and performance. He also was the Voice Teacher/Director in the Tsurumi-Musical. Tak has taught/coached many chorus groups, gospel choirs, and had many private students.
I’ve been taking lessons with Tak for a few months and already have noticed a massive improvement in my voice. He is able to detect any weaknesses in your technique and steer you in a healthier direction, prioritizing the voice’s longevity and overall well-being. He goes above and beyond by being flexible with lesson scheduling, charges a very reasonable price, and takes time to send out practices and warmups for you to utilize outside of lesson time. And don’t even get me started on his jazz sensibilities!! His ability to improv is ridiculous and he is able to explain the process in a clear and easily accessible way. I highly recommend Tak for any aspiring vocalist.
- Julia W
I have seen many voice teachers over the years and Tak was different right away. He pays more attention to his students than other teachers I’ve had. He is able to break down a vocal problem into its simplest parts and help his students develop awareness and then control of their voices. He never rushes me off once our lessons are over and makes an effort to connect with me not just as a customer but as a human. 10/10 !!!!!
- Nate L
Can't recommend Tak enough! If you are interested in singing lessons then you can't go wrong studying under Tak. Although I have played music my whole life, I always neglected singing and was super hesitant to start, lacking confidence in my own voice. Tak on the first lesson was super supportive and encouraging. He has a very strong knowledge of the pedagogy and is always coming up with new exercises to strengthen and challenge your skills. In just one month I can feel a huge difference in both my singing skills, and the confidence I have in the sound of my own voice. Simply put, I think Tak is one of the best teachers I have ever had, period, and I look forward to our lesson every week.
- Joseph F
■The Beginning Session
The beginning-session, will be the diagnoses of the voice.
The objective here is to identify any functional weaknesses in the voice, which will then be followed by a feedback to explain what the primary goal will be. A series of exercises will be constructed (upon the diagnoses), to help the voice grow stronger and balanced, also diminishing negative tendencies of the voice. Songs of request will be used in this process. For "Motivation" is the most important factor in the learning process. Learning to sing must be enjoyable and fun, help will be assured in the best manner through this process.
Guidelines/Goals for Beginning singers
- A natural and relaxed tone production with ease and comfort
- Moderate balance between head register(hi notes) and chest register(lo notes)
- Approximate range of 1.5 octaves or more
- Moderate balance within the vowels
- Proper breathing and posture
- Confidence and "Joy" in the singing
Guidelines/Goals for Intermediate singers
- Free of unintentional constriction
- Solid balance between head register and chest register
- Moderate strength and flexibility
- Approximate range of 2 octaves or more
- Clear vowels in most of range
- Proper breathing and posture
- Articulation in a presentable way
- Knowledge in targeted genre of music
Demands for the Professional voice
- 2 to 2.5 octaves of range
- Solid control over the bridge(passagio/break)
- Control through range in volume and color of voice
- Strength and flexibility
- Stamina for sustained producment of a strong voice
- Clear vowels, and modified vowel production upon intention
- A healthy vocal production under heavy demands
- Minimum constriction on intention
- Grounded technique of all of the above, in an automated manner
Material/Subjects covered in lessons
Subjects taught are on request
■ The Basic Voice
Learning to posses more control over the voice is a primary requirement to become a better singer.
Focuses will be on,
- a healthy natural production
- relaxed and free of excessive constriction
- balance in register/vowels
- strength in volume and tone
- flexibility in speed and range
- stamina in sustained production
- meaningful articulation
- freedom in the art of expression
■ Music Theory
Being knowledged in the music may not come as a demand for a singer, but will deepin the understanding of music.
Some of the "basics for a singer" to be covered are the following.
- Writing/Understanding sheet music
- Transposition of keys
- Rhythmic identification(can be aural)
- Intervals and scales
- Chord structure and tension chords
- Chord progression(2-5-1)
- Chord substitution
- Ear training/ Chord identification(Maj, min, dim, 7th, etc)
Songs consist of multiple vowels and consonants, which will be a much more difficult task, compared to simplified vocal exercises. The basic voice technique must be grounded in the body and mind using a song. This is also the point where muscle memory, carry stubborn tendencies that work in a negative attitude. On ocassion, the voice must be worked subtracting style and exessive expression, concentrating on the function of the voice.
There are different demands in different styles/genres of music.
For example, Jazz demands a smooth balanced voice with groove and melodic freedom. Rock demands a powerful belty sound, sometimes even a nasty sound, and this must be done in a healthy attitude. A singer song writer will be demanded, originality, some knowledge in music theory, preferably technique to play guitar/piano, and obviously technique to meet the expression in the art. Given the function of the vocal folds being the same, different genres/styles have to be treated with slightly different ways of training.
Singers will be determined to target specific goals.
- Clear pronunciation
- Lyrical understanding
- Meaningful articulation
- Connected tones and balanced vocal production
- Honest emotion
- Groove and freedom
■ Jazz Improvisation
Learning to improvise is a long-term task. This will not be something that is going to be accomplished in 1 month. This does not mean one cannot improvise until all the training is done and every little knowledge is grounded. Although, the more you know, the more you will desire to study. You don't have to know everything to get up on stage to do a solo, but knowing the jazz language is essential if one truly desires to improvise.
Examples of specific practices
- The triplet feel (can be aural or by handclapling)
- Use a short phrase and follow the rhythmic pattern through the entire song
- Meaningful phrasing
- Practice a phrase/lick in at least 2 keys, far from eachother by a 5th. The pitch difference will most likely force the voice to sing in a different register, so this is also a good way to work on registers balance.
- Focus on 4bars of a song until comfortable and confident with the chord progression. Transpose a 5th and work more.This usually forces you to work with different phrases regarding the key difference. This is also to be practiced lyrically for more freedom in the lyrics.
Tak is a very good teacher. He is kind, knowledgeable, flexible, patient and pushes me to find improvement in our lessons. Would recommend him to anyone who is looking for valuable online Jazz singing lessons.
- Kai C
Tak is an amazing voice teacher. He has helped me immensely in undoing numerous bad habits i accumulated over the years. He’s fun to work with, and has a super supportive and positive personality. Would recommend highly to anyone seeking to seriously improve their singing, from beginner to professional.
- Jeff R
Tak is not only the best skill-specific instructor I've ever met, but the best mentor I've ever had in my life. His training has been extremely personalized and thorough from day one and his passion for music bleeds into everything he does. He's cooperative, inquisitive, observant and goes above and beyond to meet your specific needs based on what your goals are. Above all, is a fantastic jazz musician! (That is also mutli-faceted and flexible). Not to mention one of the most charismatic/motivated people ever. Could not recommend more, definitely one of New York's hidden treasures.
- Juwairia H
I’ve been going to Tak for a few months and I have definitely been improving! He is very helpful to even a beginner like me, and he is someone who truly wants to see their student succeed. Would recommend!
- Daniel L