Finding A Great Vocal Coach – Advice And Cautions
Getting a competent voice instructor is one of the smartest moves you can make to improve yourself as a singer at a rapid pace.
Voice teachers have years of experience that they can impart to you…for a price!
I’ve paid up to $100/hour and personally charge $70/hour! Yes, it’s expensive but there’s a reason it’s expensive – because training with somebody who knows what they’re doing and who has been professionally doing it for years absolutely EXPLODES your progress and growth as a singer. Ask anybody who’s accomplished a lot in virtually any area of expertise and more often than not, there’s a great teacher and mentor that helped get them there.
As a working singer, you CAN get paid well, but if you factor in the countless hours, weeks or months you spend preparing for a gig or role, the amount of money you’ve earned PER HOUR is usually seriously disappointing.
That’s why so many singers teach voice lessons and become vocal coaches. They have a very specialized knowledge in an area a lot of people want to learn, and they start to transfer that knowledge as part of their profession.
Since music is such a notoriously poorly paying profession and there are so many singers trying to “make it”, you wind up with a ton of them getting into teaching and that’s not necessarily a good thing for you a singing student. Why? Because doing something and teaching it are two VERY different things and there are too many teachers out there who don’t know the first thing about healthy vocal technique and will actually arrest your progress if you study with them.
Then how do these poor teachers get students? They prey on the ignorance of the student and/or parent by showing off a little of their own singing, maybe citing some of their education credentials and previous results and then you think “wow, this person must really know what they’re doing.” In other words, if you want to find an amazing teacher who really knows their stuff, has a proper foundation, AND knows how to teach it to you, then you have the potential to really blossom. We’ll talk about criteria in a second.
The best place to look for a vocal coach is at your local university.
While I may be biased because I received classical training, I also received training from other vocal coaches who didn’t learn classical singing technique and these people did BAD things to my voice! Does that mean a singer who isn’t classically trained has worse technique and doesn’t teach as well? No, of course not, but somebody who IS classically trained is much more likely to be a competent singer and teacher than somebody who isn’t, so it’s in your best interest to fish in the pond with the most fish, so to speak.
When you meet your potential teacher, you need to feel them out and make sure they know what they’re doing. Ask them to sing for you. If they get insulted or refuse to show you their chops, then leave. If your teacher can’t do it, they have no business teaching it. Ask them where they studied voice, under whom, what they’ve sung in the past couple of years and if they’ve ever studied vocal pedagogy from an experienced professional voice teacher. Vocal pedagogy is the study of HOW TO TEACH singing. If somebody can sing well that’s great, but it does NOT mean that they can teach well. If anything, a great singer who is a poor teacher is the ultimate bad teacher because you’ll both be convinced that you’re receiving fantastic instruction, when in fact the teacher is doing a poor job of transferring their knowledge to you in a way that sticks and helps you make real progress.
So, does this mean you have to learn to sing opera? Of course not. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. If you’re a rock singer or a pop vocalist, just ask your teacher to help you do the style you love and don’t let yourself be forced into singing music you don’t enjoy. On the other hand, while your main focus should be on singing the type of music that gets you excited, don’t be dismissive about classical rep – you can learn a lot of amazing stuff that will improve whatever style you do and deepen your appreciation of singing, musicianship and music in general.
Also keep in mind that many of the best singers in pop, jazz, rock, etc., actually had classical training at some point.
Another great way to have your own personal vocal coach is by using vocal coach software and getting private consultations via Skype.
My friend Per Bristow, a celebrity vocal coach in LA does fantastic Skype consultations.
Click here to visit Per’s website and find out about getting a few lessons from him.
–> Per’s Site <—