How to Find the Best Vocal Teacher — What You Need to Know
How To Find The Perfect Vocal Teacher
You've decided to take some vocal lessons to improve the quality of your voice. You want to find a teacher that is right for you. You also want to get the most bang for your buck. But you're not quite sure just how to go about it.
Finding the right vocal coach can be time-consuming and even frustrating. You'll find lists of teachers in the classified section of newspapers, flyers and the internet all promising to help you with your singing voice.
"Do I just pick a name from the yellow pages?" "Perhaps I'll just ask someone." "Should I get private lessons or is it best to go with group instruction?" How does one know which teacher to hire?
Some are qualified and some are not Anyone can hang a shingle on a building claiming to be a vocal teacher. But how do you know if they're qualified to teach proper vocal instruction? What questions should you asked? Does a great singer make a great teacher? How much will singing lessons cost?
These questions will be addressed plus other important tips to furnish you with all the information you need to know for selecting the perfect vocal teacher.
In the next few minutes, I will guide you in selecting a singing teacher or vocal coach that will best suit your needs. You will learn how to steer clear of mistakes and pitfalls usually made when seeking vocal instruction. Selecting the wrong teacher can be costly and even harmful for your voice.
If you are seeking vocal instruction and you're not sure where or how to begin, pay close attention to the following tips and advice on How To Find The Perfect Vocal Coach.
Classifications And Headings For A Vocal Teacher
Vocal teachers and coaches are found under the following classifications and headings:
Learn To Sing
How To Sing
Your goal is to find a knowledgeable teacher who is right for you. Degrees or credentials are not required for teaching voice with the exception of college and university instructors. However, a good competent vocal coach can still be found even though they do not have a degree.
I think I'm a vocal genius, not a musical genius. I like background vocals. I consider myself a voice, not a singer. A voice is a sound, and singing is what you do with that sound.— Brian Wilson (Beach Boys)
A Good Vocal Coach Will Incorporate Proper Vocal Technique In Each Lesson
Things To Consider When Choosing A Vocal Coach
What should I be looking for when selecting a vocal coach? Factors in choosing a teacher include the following:
1. Find a teacher to fit your needs and interests. There are hundreds of teachers and coaches but each of them has a specific way of teaching. Make it clear to the prospective teacher what you want to get from the lessons. Here are some examples:
. I want to build my vocal range.
. Can you help me learn to breathe correctly for singing?
. I need to control my vibrato.
. Will I sound better if I study with you?
. My lack of self-confidence keeps me from singing. Do you address this problem?
. I just want to sound better.
. By studying with you will I be given opportunities to perform in public?
2. Make sure the vocal coach can teach you the style you like. If you're a country singer you won't want to study with a teacher who teaches opera or classical. (And vice versa.) Singing styles include the following:
. Musical Theatre
3. Consider the driving distance. Picking a teacher who is an hours drive away is the fastest way to interrupt the lesson schedule. Bad weather, schedule interruptions, time and traffic can make you late for your appointment. Be sure that you find classes that are close and handy to you.
4. Ask the teacher if Vocal Technique is part of the training program. Is the teacher qualified to teach vocal skills such as breath control, increasing the range, controlled vibrato, resonating chambers, proper diction, vocal flexibility, lifting and strengthening the soft palate? (These are only a few techniques a qualified teacher is expected to be proficient at.)
If the teacher gives you a puzzled look or a resounding no, run and keep on searching. There's no way vocal instruction will be productive or give you the results you seek without a solid foundation built on vocal technique.
5. Look for compatibility. This is a key factor for learning and progress. A teacher without the ability to answer prolific questions and make individualized adjustments to your voice is not acceptable, therefore it is best to trust your gut feeling and keep looking until you click with the instructor. First impressions usually reveal whether or not you're compatible with a person.
6. Getting A Referral. Selecting a teacher this way gives you first- hand experience. The person giving you a referral has actually taken lessons from the instructor or knows someone who has. (65 percent of my students come to me through a referral.)
Find A Vocal Coach That Can Teach Your Style of Singing
Important Questions To Ask When Looking For A Vocal Teacher
Most of us feel uncomfortable and unqualified when it comes to interviewing a prospective vocal coach. I recently conducted some research on my own to see how many folks actually knew which questions to ask when seeking vocal instruction.
A whopping 9 out of 10 said they didn't know. And the rest were surprised to learn that they should even ask questions to begin with. Hence, this article was born.
Take a look at the list below to learn which questions you should ask in order to find the perfect vocal coach:
- Does the teacher play piano well? I can't say it enough. Never choose a singing teacher that can't play the piano. The reasons should be obvious but if not - The piano is used to play and teach scales as well as accompany the singer when performing solos. The piano also helps the student sing on key.
- Describe what a typical lesson is like.
- How long have you been teaching voice? Expect to pay more for a vocal coach with experience.
- Do you have a degree in voice? You want a vocal coach who has had years of performance experience or years of lessons and training in a degree program that focuses on the voice
- Where did you attend college?
- Do you include music theory in lessons?
- What is the average age of your students?
- What is your fee and what about missed lessons?
- Do you perform? If so, where? If you have the opportunity to hear the vocal coach sing, then by all means, do it. You may discover a lot about his personality that you might not get to see in the singing lessons.
- Do you include ear-training?
- Do you teach sight-singing?
- Are recitals available for students?
- Can I have a trial lesson?
- Is there a way for me to hear other students you teach?
- What do you like most about being a teacher?
- Do you work with a variety of voice types? Do you teach different styles of music? If you are looking for help with specific voice type, or specific singing styles, you need to make sure that your prospective vocal coach can work with your voice type or the style of singing you're interested in.
What Questions Should Your Singing Teacher Ask You?
Questions Your Prospective Vocal Coach Should Ask You
It's not just about which questions you should be asking your prospective vocal coach, it's also extremely important that you be aware of what questions the teacher asks you. If the instructor fails to ask you even one question you are better off walking away. Obviously, that person is not interested in your needs.
Here are key questions a qualified vocal teacher will ask:
- Why do you want vocal lessons?
- Do you have a specific goal in mind?
- How did you find out about me?
- Have you had previous training?
- What style of music do you like?
- Do you play the piano or another musical instrument?
- Do you read music?
- Do you sing in a choir or group?
- Is your family musical?
- Who are some of your favorite singers?
- Does your family or significant other support your choice to study voice?
When you find an inquisitive teacher you can be sure that the teacher wants to make the teacher/student experience work for you.
A good voice teacher wants to ensure that the two of you are a good match. Just as you’re checking out the teacher, the teacher should also be checking you out, to find out a little about your background and interests.
Your singing is a gift from God. Sharing your singing with others is a gift from you.— Audrey Hunt
Summing It Up
Key points to remember when looking for the perfect vocal coach:
- Ask questions. Find a qualified vocal teacher with a degree in music and a vast background.
- Find a vocal coach who can meet your needs and teach your preferred style
- The teacher must be qualified to teach vocal theory and technique
- Playing the piano is an absolute must.
- Be prepared to ask the right questions when considering a vocal teacher.
- Find a vocal coach who is compatible with you.
As far as prices go usually the better the teacher the higher fee you will pay. Don't make the mistake of thinking just because you're a beginner you can get by with a less-than-perfect vocal coach. Many a voice has been ruined and damaged by an inexperienced teacher.
Above all — singing teachers must have a sincere love for people and a passion for teaching.
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© 2016 Audrey Hunt