When looking for a vocal coach, it is important to find someone who is experienced and has a good understanding of the mechanics of the voice. They should be able to help you with your breathing, placement, and resonance. A good vocal coach will also be able to help you with your interpretation of the music and how to connect with your audience.
There are also a few practical things you should keep in mind. First and foremost, you want to make sure that the coach is experienced and has a good track record. Secondly, you want to make sure that the coach is a good fit for your personality and learning style. And finally, you want to make sure that the coaching program is affordable and within your budget.
Singing is one of the most difficult things to be truly self-aware about (your neighbor doesn't actually have a cat, that's just her making a joyful noise). This is why for aspiring singers, it's very important to find a good coach that will offer honest feedback. Improving the small aspects of a vocal performance can be the difference between being a good singer and a professional singer. A good vocal coach will help navigate those runs and dynamics.
There are many forms and venues for vocal coaching available these days. The rise in the quality of online meetings has really opened a new market for online coaching. As the market has grown, so has the number of coaches. More than ever, it is important to know what sets a good vocal coach apart from mediocre coaches.
As we already mentioned, self-awareness is difficult, but even more so in listening to yourself sing. So often, the voice that you hear is unlike the voice that others hear. We are prone to hear ourselves the way that we think we sound rather than the way that we actually sound. If we already have low self-esteem about our singing, we might be overly critical. If we already have high self-esteem, we're likely to miss opportunities for improvement. Having a vocal coach helps us balance our confidence and take note of the actual output. This is just one benefit of working with a vocal coach.
In addition to this, a coach will help critique our performance for the smaller details that only a more mature singer hears. Coaches with more experience know what elements of an arrangement will be more difficult; therefore, they can direct your time and effort to practice those sections.
Vocal coaches also help guide singers in caring for their voice by exercising the voice, resting the voice, and being intentional about what they might eat or drink before a performance. This can be an invaluable resource for the longevity of a singer's voice.
The best vocal coaches are all going to share similar qualities; however, they will likely approach coaching with a variety of methods. When looking for a good coach, it's important to take note of the essential qualities and then take note of the teaching style.
Obviously, a good vocal coach should have some singing experience, but just because someone can sing does not mean they can teach. A good vocal coach should have experience teaching voice. Experienced voice coaches will be able to offer more pointers than those that are just beginning or have only personal singing experience. Understanding how to control your own voice is only the first step. Understanding how to control other people's voices and coach them to that is another craft of its own.
Good vocal coaches will have great attention to detail. It's easy enough to wow your grandmother with your singing skills; she's thinking about that time you made cookies with her during the whole song. Vocal performance is made or broken in the small details. Good coaches will help point out the opportunities for improvement in each note, run, or transition. They will notice your breathing, posture, and expressions rather than just the sounds. This attention to detail will help improve your vocal range, stamina, and ability to pick up new songs and sounds quickly.
This might not always be a dealbreaker, but it's important to consider. While all music shares qualities like rhythm, key, and tone, knowing the style of music and the intricacies of singing it will be a great help as they coach. Foremost, music is an expression of yourself. Even if you're singing in a choir or a group, it's your opportunity to find yourself in the arrangement, the lyrics, and the performance. This is why it's important for a vocal coach not to limit you or confine you to their own style of singing. They should encourage your individuality.
It's also important to note that while a coach might be able to help navigate a vocal style that's uncommon to them, they might miss opportunities to influence some key stylistic points. For example, if a coach teaches opera, your physical posture might be a high priority versus a coach who is teaching R&B, where your body's physical rhythm and sway might help you express lyrics with greater passion.
Lastly, but importantly, a good vocal coach will care for you and for your success. Wherever you have your sights and your goal set, your coach should be your greatest cheerleader. The best coaches will push you when you need it and empathize with you when you need that. Hiring a coach is a big commitment to your career and following a calling. It's important to find a coach that cares.
We mentioned already that the market for vocal coaches is growing. That means two things, good coaches are easier to find. But, also, bad coaches are easier to find. It's important to do your due diligence before committing to a coach. Sometimes that means taking a standalone class before committing. You might also be able to ask for references from other students and professionals.
The music industry is traditionally a tight circle, and the bests coaches' reputations often cross genre and geographical borders. Asking around at music stores, high school music programs, or church leaders will often provide some great leads.
Just remember, the perfect coach for you might not necessarily be your mom's co-worker. Your goals will determine the level of coaching that you need. Find a balance between a coach of high regard and your budget. While good coaches might not be cheap coaches, that does not mean that you cannot find a fiscally-responsible option that will meet the qualities mentioned above and challenge you to be a better singer.
The most important part of hiring a coach is learning to do your part. It's important to remember that a coach cannot make you a better singer; they can only coach you to become one. Growing as a singer is up to you. Good coaches will give you actionable critiques. These will often-times come with homework, exercises, and practice in-between sessions.
Another tip to remember when working with a coach is to listen carefully. It can be tempting to be preoccupied with your next attempt at singing a piece and miss the coach's instruction. Be sure to listen to each detail. Remember, what they are hearing is likely different than what you heard.
If you do not understand, don't be afraid to ask questions. If you are struggling with a particular run, section, or learning vocal trills, ask for tips or extra feedback.
A good vocal coach can offer one of the most dramatic improvements to your ability to sing. They will help you hear yourself in a different way, encourage you, and provide actionable improvements. Even someone with perfect-pitch or a musical prodigy can benefit from the accountability and coaching that comes with vocal coaching.
At Visible Music College, our faculty and staff provide a well-balanced education for aspiring artists and industry leaders. Our vocal students are coached by some of the industry's most respected individuals. With programs like our Modern Music (certificate, bachelor's, or master's) you could receive top-of-the-line vocal coaching as well as earn your college degree. Sound interesting? Apply or request more information today.