Men’s and women’s voices sound so different. Do I need to find an instructor of the same gender as me?
Men and women do sound different and sing in a different range of pitches. However, the ways in which an instructor approaches teaching each sex differs only somewhat. Men and women utilize the same breath management techniques, the rules of acoustics and phonetics apply equally to both sexes, (although due to differences in the pitches that they sing, acoustic circumstances differ somewhat between the genders), and vocal health is encouraged and maintained through many of the same habits and technical skills.
Of course, each gender, as well as each Fach (voice type), has some unique training needs, as certain technical problems are more common in one or the other. A vocal instructor must, then, have a good understanding of the unique challenges that both genders, as well as all voice categories, face while training, and have in their arsenals appropriate training exercises that will address the specific needs of each individual student. To train either gender, a voice teacher needs to be equipped with knowledge about registration events and other technical skills as they relate to both genders and every vocal Fach.
Belonging to a different voice category than his or her students doesn’t preclude a teacher from effectively demonstrating good, healthy technique. For instance, male teachers can use falsetto tones – tones that are imitative of the female voice – in order to demonstrate correct vowel modification in the upper register for female students, and female teachers can instruct their male students in correct vocal protection and vowel modification by simply demonstrating good, balanced tone across the scale. (They should not artificially deepen the sounds of their voices in an attempt to imitate the tones of male singers, as this will create a poor, distorted tone quality in the voice.)
I, personally, was trained by a male instructor, and I learned excellent technique. His gender never hindered my ability to develop good breath management, balanced tone and smooth registration, nor did it make it more difficult for me to master singing in my head voice. He understood how to train the female voice, and was successful in teaching students of both genders and all voice types.
It is, therefore, not necessary for a male to be trained by a male, nor a female by a female. The only important factor is finding a good, knowledgeable, experienced instructor who will teach proper singing technique.