How to Find the Best Vocal Teacher — What You Need to Know

Updated on July 9, 2018
vocalcoach profile image

Audrey's vast background as an international vocal teacher provides master classes for teachers bringing a fresh new approach to singing.

The Perfect vocal teacher will design a flexible program to fit your individual needs.
The Perfect vocal teacher will design a flexible program to fit your individual needs. | Source

Find a Vocal Teacher Just Right For You

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. You don't want to trust your voice with just anyone.

"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 and 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.

The Most Crucial Characteristic For Being A Teacher Is Love

Teaching is a profession of love.  You can't teach people unless you love them.
Teaching is a profession of love. You can't teach people unless you love them. | Source

Classifications And Headings For A Vocal Teacher

Being a great singer does not qualify that person to teach vocal techniques. It takes more than a good voice to be a good instructor. The teacher must have a combination of schooling, knowledge of the voice, and plenty of experience.

Vocal teachers and coaches are found under the following classifications and headings:

  • Voice Lessons

  • Vocal Lessons

  • Vocal Instruction

  • Singing Lessons

  • Singing Teacher

  • Vocal Coach

  • Vocal Teacher

  • Singing Instruction

  • Learn To Sing

  • Singing Lessons

  • 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.

Outstanding teachers go out of their way to boost self-esteem in their students. If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish.

A Good Vocal Coach Will Incorporate Proper Vocal Technique In Each Lesson

Your vocal coach absolutely must know how to teach vocal technique such as breathing from the diaphragm (belly breath), proper diction, and the use of the resonating system.
Your vocal coach absolutely must know how to teach vocal technique such as breathing from the diaphragm (belly breath), proper diction, and the use of the resonating system. | Source

6 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. Take responsibility for stating your needs. There are hundreds of teachers and coaches but each one 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

. Classical

. Folk

. Country

. Popular

. Rock

. Blues

. Soul

. Alternative

. Spiritual/Sacred

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

Former student, Kristin McNamara, wins big singing her own style on American Idol.
Former student, Kristin McNamara, wins big singing her own style on American Idol. | Source

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?

You can tell a lot about a teacher by the questions they ask you.  Never feel intimidated.  Answer openly and truthfully.  This way you will get more bang for your buck.
You can tell a lot about a teacher by the questions they ask you. Never feel intimidated. Answer openly and truthfully. This way you will get more bang for your buck. | Source

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.

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.
  • People appreciate clear, honest feedback delivered in a straightforward way.
  • The key skills the teacher must have are: listening from the heart, effective questioning, establishing high levels of rapport and trust, and inspiring the learner.

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.

A good teacher will stimulate learning and inspire action. Helping students to focus on the path forward is much more productive than keeping them focused on what is wrong.

Above all — singing teachers must have a sincere love for people and a passion for teaching.

Your singing is a gift from God. Sharing your singing with others is a gift from you.

— Audrey Hunt

So What Do You Think?

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Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Audrey Hunt

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      • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

        Audrey Hunt 

        22 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        MsDora

        Thank you kindly for taking time to read this. I really appreciate your comments. Enjoy your day!

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        22 months ago from The Caribbean

        Very helpful, Audrey. This would be one of those situations in which I don't know what questions to ask. Great primer for student beginners. Thanks.

      • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

        Audrey Hunt 

        23 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        Thank you Alicia! So nice of you to take the time to read my latest hub. I really appreciate your comments.

        Happy thoughts -

        Audrey

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        23 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Your hub contains excellent advice, Audrey. Thank you for creating such a comprehensive and useful article. I'm sure it will be helpful for many people looking for a vocal teacher.

      • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

        Audrey Hunt 

        23 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        Dear Faith

        I will never lack confidence as long as I read your comments to my hubs. What a sweetheart you are! Please let your daughter know when she is ready for lessons I provide vocal instruction using the video program "skype" and/or "facetime." Been teaching this way for years with some great results.

        I'm happy as can be to hear you like my own quotes. Thank you precious friend.

        Love,

        Audrey

        FlourishAnyway

        Thank you so much for confirming my hub as helpful for others. This is just what I wanted to hear. Appreciate your support more than you know.

        Enjoy your day.

        Audrey

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        23 months ago from USA

        This is an authoritative source for selecting a vocal teacher. Many people think they know what they want but have no idea how to get there, and you provide helpful instructions. Very well done!

      • Faith Reaper profile image

        Faith Reaper 

        23 months ago from southern USA

        Hi Lovely Audrey,

        This is such a useful hub here for all seeking to find that perfect vocal teacher. Great questions to ask by both the student and the teacher!

        I wish I had this insightful article here when my daughter was a young child desiring to take vocal lessons. She loves to sing still and I will forward your article to her. She is in the process of moving now, and maybe she can find a great one in her new area.

        Your students are blessed to have you as their caring vocal coach.

        I love the quotes you've included here, but the ones that are the best are the ones from you: "Above all - singing teachers must have a sincere love for people and passion for teaching. Your singing is a gift from God. Sharing your singing with others is a gift from you."

        Hugs and blessings

      • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

        Audrey Hunt 

        23 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        ChitrangadaSharan

        Hello dear friend. You are too kind (but I love hearing this.) So happy to see you here and do appreciate your comments very much. Sending you hugs across the world.

        Love,

        Audrey

        Oh Bill! I've been working on this next chapter but this is what happens:

        1. I keep editing and changing and still not happy with what I write.

        2. I probably am over-thinking ...

        3. I want it all to be perfect before sending it on to you.

        I haven't sent anything but maybe I should just send what I have.

        My mind goes off in all directions...focus Audrey, focus.

        Dear Nell,

        Bronchitis can do a number on the singing, that's for sure. But come to think of it, the sound of a growling dog and a squeaking mouse may turn out to be the next big thing in vocal style! :)

        Love you,

        Audrey

      • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

        Audrey Hunt 

        23 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        Ruby -

        Do you have any kind of video program on your computer?

      • Nell Rose profile image

        Nell Rose 

        23 months ago from England

        I would love to learn to sing properly, but since my bronchitis my voice sounds like a cross between a growling dog and a squeaking mouse! lol! always love your hubs, and you are so clever!

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        23 months ago from Olympia, WA

        All I need to know is where is your next chapter to your book? I haven't heard a peep out of you in quite some time? Have you sent something and it got lost? If you do email me something, let's back it up with a message on Facebook letting me know to look for it, okay?

      • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

        Chitrangada Sharan 

        23 months ago from New Delhi, India

        Great hub and who else can suggest those important tips to find the best vocal coach but you!

        I agree with your detailed and important tips. You are so right in saying that a folk singer/ coach would not be suitable to teach Rock and a spiritual singer is not very suitable to coach for popular singing.

        Very useful, helpful and well written hub! Thank you!

      • always exploring profile image

        Ruby Jean Richert 

        23 months ago from Southern Illinois

        Audrey, I don't have Skype but I'm on Facebook. Ah my birds love my singing so much they fly away full of joy. How sweet!

      • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

        Audrey Hunt 

        23 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        Thank you Ruby for reading my hub. And as for singing, I'd be more than happy to give you some pointers at N/C. Do you have Skype or Facetime? You're exactly the type of person I love to work with. I love the old church songs. They have such an innocence both lyrically and melodically. And as for your birds...how do you know they're not flying for the joy of hearing you sing? :)

        Love you dear lady,

        Audrey

        Hi Mike. I can always count on you to be at the head of the line when I introduce a new hub. You make me feel like a 'star.' I do love teaching. There's just something wonderful that transpires within me when I teach. Thanks dear friend.

        Sending hugs,

        Audrey

        teaches12345

        Oh, Dianna, you are the prime example of compassion and love for teaching. Compatibility heads the list for sure when selecting a teacher. Thank you dear friend for your lovely comments.

        Hugs,

        Audrey

      • AudreyHowitt profile image

        Audrey Howitt 

        23 months ago from California

        Great hub Audrey! So many good points here--I started out singing musical theater, then did a lot of pop and studio work in LA and Vegas and then went to classical. So these days, I teach mostly classical, with a splash of the other two in for good measure--and I do teach sight singing--we should sing some duets!!!

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 

        23 months ago

        I think compatibility would be my main interest in finding a vocal teacher, if I were to imagine I could even sing. It is important to me that I can relate and interact with someone to learn. Your words are so true: Teachers (this goes for all teachers) must have a passion to teach and love for people. Amen.

      • mckbirdbks profile image

        mckbirdbks 

        23 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        The world of music is so happy to have you. You are a natural teacher, with compassion for your subject and your students. That must make you feel great.

      • always exploring profile image

        Ruby Jean Richert 

        23 months ago from Southern Illinois

        I wish I lived close enough to you to take lessons. I love to sing, but I'm a long way from sounding good or even ok. I sing at home and in church, but my voice pitch is off key. It's ok at home but not in church. Thanks again for all the great tips on choosing a vocal coach. I bought an old song book at a yard sale, it's really old. The title, Great Songs Of The Church. I sometimes sing the old songs ( When I'm alone ) I notice my pet birds at the feeder fly away when they hear me. lol

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