voice and opera specialist


Sven Edward Olbash informal.jpg

voice mentorship for singers

If you're like many singers, you might find yourself lost at sea in between voice lessons wondering if you're actually making any progress and feeling uncertain how to get the most out of your home practice time. You're not alone! If you're not enrolled in a full time conservatory program, you might not be getting the kind of support you need to get the most out of your vocal study. I'm happy to offer Voice Mentorship Packages for students committed to improving their vocal artistry over a period of three to nine months. In addition to a deep discount over the normal per-session price, these packages give you access to All the Things—stuff like text message and email support, 24/7 online scheduling, personalized Spotify or YouTube playlists, access to the classical and musical theater accompaniment libraries in AppCompanist, an Evernote virtual notebook to keep track of goals, lessons notes, and exercises, group performances classes and studio recitals, and much more! To learn more, click the button above to schedule a free online consultation.


I taught singing at the New England Conservatory of Music (voice class and individual lessons) and the Franklin School for the Performing Arts before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2005. I am a Teaching Artist with SF Opera, Voice Mentor and Director of Vocal Curriculum for ArtSmart, and on the voice faculty for the Festival Opera Summer Opera Institute. I have been a guest clinician for the Cal-Western Regional Conference of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) in Salt Lake City and will receive the Joan Frey Boytim Award for independent teachers at the 2018 National Conference in Las Vegas. I am the Vice President of Programs for the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of NATS and have served as a finalist judge for the Classical Song Festival. I teach individual voice lessons in my San Francisco studio in Lower Haight.


Teaching Style

I studied singing with Patricia Craig and Maria Spacagna—two sopranos who enjoyed substantial careers at the Metropolitan Opera and beyond. I learned a lot about singing from them—including performing traditions, interpretation, and what it takes to build a career as an opera singer. But shortly after I finished my conservatory training and started singing full opera roles, I was in a car accident that kept me from performing on stage for three years. Although I had already earned a Master of Music in Voice Pedagogy (teaching) and had studied vocal anatomy and function, it was in the process of rehabilitating and rebuilding my own voice that I really developed my own personal style of teaching singing technique. I not only studied the latest science in vocology and acoustics, but I also researched various traditional schools of singing from the Bel Canto period and the international Italian school. Now over a decade later, I combine a somatic approach to singing ("How does it feel?") with concrete knowledge of the physical action that creates both the vocal sound and the accompanying sensation.

I work with graduate students preparing for a professional career, middle school students just beginning their studies, and adult choral singers. I believe everyone should have high quality training at every point in their vocal studies—not just when they've reached the conservatory level. I work best with students who take their studies seriously and are willing to progress slowly and systematically with an absolute minimum of one hour of at-home practice between lessons.



Sven has a wonderful gift in being able to break down concepts and offer concrete guidance which I so appreciate as a beginner. He is very organized and has a deep knowledge and passion for his work. He is without a doubt, a top-notch instructor.
— Rachel F.

Sven is an amazing teacher. He has tremendous knowledge and insight into how the voice works, so he is able to identify problems and provide solutions. He is good at improvising exercises to fit specific issues. I was frequently impressed at how he could hear what I was doing wrong and tell me exactly how to correct it. But he is not all technical either. Sven focuses on interpretation and the meaning of the text. I studied singing off and on for about 30 years before Sven, and I learned more from him than all of my other teachers combined. I kept thinking, Why didn’t anyone tell me any of these things before! I cannot recommend Sven highly enough.
— Jim M.

I’ve made huge progress from studying voice with Sven. I am an experienced choral singer who had taken a 10-year break and needed to refresh my skills. Sven’s approach is precise, accessible and encouraging. My tone, volume, consistency and performance skills have all improved, and so has my confidence as a singer. I highly recommend him as a voice teacher.
— Janet B.

Sven is a great teacher! I’m excited to continue my lessons with him.
— Nick G.

I rate Sven 5 stars because aside from being a very educated (musically and socially speaking) person, he also welcomes you into his class with a mix of kindness and funny personality super willing to teach you but at the same time wanting to push you and get the best out of you. I was very impressed by how much knowledge he always has in his hands, with his wonderful credentials but mostly with how motivating it was to be learning from someone you feel knows what he is doing, and because of that, earns your respect and makes you want to work harder and make the best out of the lesson. Very happy and thankful to have had the opportunity to study and work with him. Super recommended as a teacher, and very cool person :)
— Daniela R.

I have taken at least two dozen voice lessons from Sven over the past couple years, as well as participating in a choir he directs. His teaching style is both efficient and rich with clear, specific advice for my particular voice. I recall once transcribing a lesson I had recorded and being astonished at how much important and useful information he had given me; it took a long time to write it all down. After a voice lesson with Sven, I always feel happy and motivated to continue practicing. I am especially grateful for his ability to give objective feedback honestly and in an emotionally intelligent way, as well as his gift for explaining concepts clearly and in simple terms. It feels sometimes as though he is giving away secrets of the voice, demystifying what had been completely obscure to me before. I also really appreciate Sven’s competency at the keyboard. He has been able to play at sight anything I’ve brought to a lesson. Sven is a wonderful voice teacher. I recommend him without hesitation to anyone serious about improving their vocal technique.
— Patricia S.

I first asked Sven in 2011 to help me find and fix problems with my singing. My technique, performance practice, enjoyment of singing keep improving. I choose more and more difficult repertoire as time goes by, trying to get us both into trouble. So far, so good!
— Jack M.

I appreciate Sven’s approach of starting from the fundamentals and working on up from there. I’ve sung for years but this is the first time I’ve really studied classical technique, and it’s made a big difference in my confidence and enjoyment of signing.
— Kenji M.

Sven has a very solid technical approach but is not afraid to be creative and sometimes whimsical. He tailors the information he provides to the individual student.
— Maria M.