Our singing careers are undoubtedly going to be full of important decisions. Decisions that, we feel, can make or break our passion, drive and craft. One of the most important decisions you will have to make as a singer is picking the right vocal coach. Who are you going to trust with the huge task of taking care of your voice, your instrument of work? This process can feel a bit daunting if this is your first time looking for a vocal coach.
Thankfully, the internet is a fantastic place to gather information and find the teacher you’re looking for. But what should you look for in a vocal coach? I have put together a list of things to consider when picking a vocal coach, based on my experience both as a student and a professional vocal coach. A great teacher doesn’t need to meet every specification on the list, but it’s always best to have all the information isn’t it?
So, without further ado, here are 5 things to consider when choosing a vocal coach:
1. Do they understand the GENRE you’re interested in?
The first thing to bear in mind when picking the right vocal coach is: what kind of music do you want to perform? You don’t have to limit yourself to only one musical style, definitely branch out! But if you want to sing Opera and HipHop, then you’re probably not going to find a coach that is equally experienced in both. Different styles of singing require different training. Always ask your teacher whether they teach the genre you are interested in and what experience they have with it. This means they will teach you the appropriate singing technique and give you incredibly valuable insights into that specific industry.
2. Are they able to tailor their lessons to you specifically?
Every vocal lesson should follow a trusted vocal technique while being tailored to each individual student. A great vocal coach should be able to detect your specific vocal strengths and weaknesses very quickly, as well as identifying any bad habits you may have. It is key to work with a vocal coach with good ears who can give you precise tools to help you work through your vocal issues. If you leave a voice lesson feeling more tired or strained than before, that is usually considered to be a major red flag.
3. The right vocal coach will put HEALTH at the centre
There is absolutely nothing more important than keeping your voice healthy. Stylistic choices and interpretation are undoubtedly important for professionals. But it’s vocal technique hand in hand with good vocal health practices that will make you an employable performer. It does not matter how incredible your interpretation is if your voice isn’t healthy enough to perform at that level on a regular basis. It is also important to mention that vocal health isn’t something we ‘achieve’, but rather something we work on constantly throughout our careers.
Vocal examinations carried out by medical professionals should be a must for singers. Once every 12-16 months should be okay, unless you or your teacher have an immediate concern. Does your teacher talk to you about how to keep your voice healthy? Are they giving you recommendations on how to take care of your voice on a day to day basis? If your teacher doesn’t mention good vocal health as a key aspect of your training, I would consider that a deal-breaker.
4. Does your Vocal Coach have or have they had a professional singing career?
This one might be pretty obvious, but a good vocal coach should be someone who has immersed themselves in the music industry. Someone whose life revolves around singing and who has ample experience not only academically but from actually working as a professional singer. This doesn’t mean that great performers make great teachers or vice versa. Teaching is in itself a huge skill and not every artist will make for a good teacher. Whenever possible, try to find a teacher whose experience you feel you can learn from while still keeping your own individual style.
5. Do you feel comfortable with your Vocal Coach?
Learning how to sing can be an incredibly intimate and intense process. I like to think of picking the right vocal coach like dating (go along with me on this one). It’s going to take time and you’ll probably go through many ‘wrong’ teachers until you find the right fit. Vocal lessons can be super fulfilling as well as incredibly frustrating. They can turn into quite the emotional experience and make us very vulnerable. This is why it’s so important to find someone who will encourage you to make mistakes. Someone who will understand your frustrations and work with you to make you the best artist you can be.
Finding a vocal coach that is right for you is a journey in itself. You have great artistic value no matter how much training you’ve had up to now, and you deserve a great mentor. Someone who will help you tap into your potential. I have personally had teachers change my whole outlook on singing in just one lesson. Keep searching, trying and learning. Your vocal coach is out there!