How To Choose The Right Vocal Coach For You

find a singing teacher

You’ve got the passion, the drive, and a voice that’s ready for the next level. Whether you’re an aspiring singer or striving for that next big break, one thing’s for sure: mastering the art of singing is an ongoing journey. To really fine-tune your vocals, there’s no substitute for a professional vocal coach. 

This guide is your ticket to finding a vocal coach who can help you polish your skills, unlock new vocal techniques, and help you achieve your artistic goals. From the hows and whys of choosing a voice coach to practical considerations like budget and location, we cover all the bases.

Why Work with a Vocal Coach?

Imagine having a personal trainer, but for your voice. Just as athletes wouldn’t dream of going pro without expert guidance, singers too can benefit from having a skilled coach to fine-tune their abilities. But let’s break it down: what exactly can a voice coach offer that self-guided YouTube sessions or even natural talent can’t?

Professional Insight

If you think of your voice as an instrument, then a vocal coach is your expert tuner. It’s one thing to have a naturally good voice, but a coach can help you understand the nuances that make a world of difference on stage or in the studio. Let’s dig deeper into the layers of professional insight they offer:

Technique Refinement

Whether it’s breath control, pitch accuracy, or resonance, a vocal coach can guide you through the technical intricacies that take your voice from pleasing to astonishing. Forget generic tips; this is customised advice fine-tuned to your unique vocal signature.

Interpretation Skills

A vocal coach can also serve as your music interpreter, helping you explore genres and styles you might never have considered. They can assist in finding your authentic sound and developing your stylistic range, thus broadening your artistic horizons.

Performance Prep

Ever been tongue-tied or stage-frightened? Your coach can prep you for the challenges of live performance, providing you with techniques for stage presence, microphone use, and audience engagement. Essentially, they help you translate your vocal skills into a captivating stage act.

Constructive Criticism

It might not always be what you want to hear, but constructive criticism from a singing teacher is invaluable. They can objectively analyse your performances, offer critiques that foster growth, and guide you on how to harness your emotions to make each note resonate deeper.

Accountability

Honing your voice is a commitment, one that requires more than just occasional practice. That’s where the accountability factor of having a personal vocal tutor really comes into play. Let’s delve into why having someone to answer to can fast-track your vocal progress:

Structured Learning

With a vocal coach, your learning is streamlined and organised. They lay down a structured syllabus and roadmap designed specifically for you. No more random practice sessions; every exercise you perform has a purpose, helping you evolve methodically.

Regular Check-ins

Weekly or bi-weekly lessons mean regular check-ins on your progress. These sessions not only keep you on your toes but also give you the chance to address any immediate issues or concerns, ensuring continuous improvement.

Goal Setting and Monitoring

A voice coach helps you articulate your goals and puts them into an actionable plan. Whether it’s mastering a complicated riff, increasing your vocal range, or nailing that audition, they’ll measure your progress against these objectives and adjust the plan as necessary.

Motivation

Let’s face it, self-motivation can wax and wane. Having someone invested in your vocal growth can provide that external motivation you sometimes need. They celebrate your wins, no matter how small, and help you push through the plateaus, keeping your enthusiasm alive.

Safeguarding Your Voice

For singers, the voice is more than just a musical instrument—it’s the essence of their artistry and livelihood. Just as a violinist meticulously cares for their bow, your voice deserves the same level of conscientious treatment. Here’s how a vocal coach plays a critical role in protecting this invaluable asset:

Proper Technique

A seasoned vocal coach equips you with techniques that not only improve your singing but also protect your vocal cords from unnecessary strain. Think of them as your vocal physiotherapist, guiding you through scales and exercises that are as safe as they are effective. 

Vocal Health

Ever suffered from a sore throat or hoarseness after a rigorous singing session? Your vocal coach can educate you on maintaining optimum vocal health, from hydration tips to warm-up exercises, ensuring you can sing today, tomorrow, and for years to come.

Injury Prevention

Professional singing without proper guidance can, unfortunately, lead to voice issues like nodules or even long-term damage. A vocal coach helps in identifying risky behaviours and correcting them before they become problematic.

Rehabilitation

If you’ve already experienced some vocal damage, all is not lost. A well-qualified vocal coach can offer rehabilitation exercises to safely bring your voice back to its former glory, while also advising on when to seek medical intervention.

How to Find a Vocal Coach

Finding a vocal coach who resonates with you isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavour. It’s akin to finding a mentor, a guide who not only knows the craft but understands you as an individual. So, where do you start? Let’s explore the different avenues:

Referrals and Recommendations

Friends and Fellow Musicians

Sometimes, the best leads come from those who know you well. Your circle of musician friends can offer insights into coaches who might suit your vocal style and learning preferences.

Industry Professionals

If you have connections within the music industry, now’s the time to tap into them. Producers, sound engineers, and even talent scouts often have firsthand experience with vocal coaches and can point you in the right direction.

Online Platforms

Websites dedicated to music education often feature directories where you can filter coaches based on location, genre, and even teaching method. It’s a straightforward way to scan your options.

Social Media and Forums

Facebook Groups and Reddit

Join groups or threads that focus on singing and vocal development. You’ll often find candid discussions about experiences with different coaches, offering an unfiltered view.

Instagram and YouTube

Many vocal coaches share clips of their teaching sessions or offer free mini-lessons online. These platforms give you an invaluable look at their teaching style and techniques, helping you gauge compatibility before making contact.

Local Music Schools and Universities

Music Departments

Your local university’s music department is often home to a number of qualified vocal coaches. They are generally highly trained and may even offer discounted rates for students or local residents.

Community Music Schools

These institutions often offer a range of coaching options, from group lessons to one-on-one sessions. They might also host regular recitals or performances where you can showcase your progress and get constructive feedback.

Practical Considerations

Choosing the right vocal coach involves more than just matching teaching styles and musical genres. Practical factors like budget, location, and scheduling also play a crucial role. Here’s what you need to consider:

Budget

Fee Structures

Coaches often have different fee structures: per lesson, per month, or even package deals. Knowing these can help you budget effectively without compromising on quality.

Extra Costs

Be mindful of potential additional costs like travel expenses or the price of materials like sheet music and practice tracks. These can add up over time.

Location and Travel Time

Proximity

Consider how far you’re willing to travel for your lessons. While a top-notch coach might be tempting, the time and cost of a long commute might make it impractical.

Virtual Lessons

While the focus of this guide is on in-person lessons, it’s worth mentioning that some coaches offer virtual sessions. Though not a full substitute, they are a convenient option when you can’t make it in person.

Scheduling

Lesson Duration

Some coaches offer lessons that range from 30 minutes to an hour. Assess your own schedule and stamina to decide what works best for you.

Frequency

How often do you intend to take lessons? Whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly, make sure your coach can accommodate your schedule.

singing lessons

Qualifications and Compatibility

Once you’ve narrowed down your list based on practical factors, you’ll want to dig deeper to find a vocal coach whose teaching style and qualifications align with your artistic vision and needs.

Qualifications

Educational Background

When it comes to vocal coaching, credentials aren’t just a string of letters after someone’s name—they’re a testament to the coach’s level of expertise and commitment to the craft. From formal education and industry experience to specialised training, a coach’s qualifications can offer valuable insights into their skill set. 

Music Degrees and Certifications

Look for coaches who have formal education in music or voice pedagogy. Degrees and certifications from recognised institutions lend credibility and ensure a baseline level of expertise.

Continuing Education

The world of music is always evolving. A coach committed to ongoing learning through workshops, masterclasses, or additional certifications is likely to offer updated vocal techniques and approaches.

Industry Experience

Live Performances

Coaches with a background in live performances can offer crucial insights into stage presence, microphone technique, and audience engagement—skills that go beyond vocal ability.

Recording Studios

If you aim to record music, a coach with studio experience can guide you through the nuances of recording, from vocal arrangements to microphone technique and sound editing.

Collaborations and Networking

Some coaches have extensive connections within the music industry. While this shouldn’t be the only criterion, it can open doors to collaborations, songwriting opportunities, and even gigs that you might not have access to otherwise.

Specialised Training

Voice Disorders

If you’ve suffered from voice issues like strain or nodules, you’ll want a coach trained in vocal rehabilitation. They can provide specific exercises to help you sing safely.

Compatibility

Choosing a vocal coach goes beyond simply ticking off boxes for qualifications and experience. At the end of the day, your coach is more than a teacher; they’re a mentor, a guide, and sometimes even a confidant. Finding the right fit in terms of teaching style, musical genres, and personal rapport can make the difference between a frustrating experience and a fulfilling musical journey. Here’s how to ensure that you and your prospective coach are truly compatible.

Teaching Style

Methodology

Some coaches might use established vocal training methods like Speech Level Singing or the Alexander Technique. Familiarise yourself with these approaches to see if they resonate with you.

Feedback Mechanism

Understanding how a coach provides feedback can be pivotal. Whether it’s real-time comments during lessons or detailed post-session evaluations, ensure it aligns with how you best receive and apply feedback.

Flexibility

Every singer is different, and a good coach should be able to adapt their teaching style to your learning speed, your existing skills, and even your preferred musical genres.

Musical Genres

Depth of Knowledge

A coach who specialises in your preferred genre can provide insights that are nuanced and targeted. They should not only be familiar with the technical aspects but also the history and evolving trends within that genre.

Crossover Skills

If you’re interested in more than one genre, look for a coach skilled in cross-genre training. They can help you build a diverse skill set and broaden your musical horizons.

Personality and Rapport

Communication

A coach’s ability to clearly articulate ideas, provide constructive criticism, and offer encouragement is crucial. The rapport you build can greatly impact your learning experience.

Enthusiasm and Dedication

Your ideal coach should share your excitement and be as committed to your growth as you are. Their enthusiasm can be a motivating factor, pushing you to challenge your limits.

Initial Consultation

The initial consultation is more than just a cursory meet-and-greet; it’s your first real experience with a prospective vocal coach. This is the time to validate your research, apply your checklist of criteria, and importantly, gauge how you personally resonate with the coach. Below are crucial points to consider during this all-important first lesson.

Observations to Make

During the test lesson, take note of how comfortable you feel with the vocal coach. Do they put you at ease? Are they attentive to your needs and receptive to your questions?

Skill Assessment

A competent vocal coach will usually conduct an initial skill assessment. This should provide you with valuable insights into your strengths and areas for improvement, even if you don’t continue with that particular coach.

Teaching Philosophy

Understanding a coach’s teaching philosophy can give you an idea of their approach to training. Whether they focus on technique, performance, or a balance of both could be a deciding factor for you.

Student Success Stories

Don’t hesitate to ask for testimonials or success stories. Knowing that a singing coach has a track record of helping students achieve their goals can be incredibly reassuring.

Realistic Expectations

Timeline for Progress

During your initial consultation, discuss what a realistic timeline for your progress might look like. This will give you an idea of what to expect and help you set long-term goals.

Costs Involved

If you haven’t already discussed it, the initial consultation is a good time to get a complete understanding of the costs involved, including any extra materials or cancellation policies.

What You Can Achieve with a Vocal Coach

You’ve done your research, checked off your list of qualifications and even found a coach who resonates with you. Now comes the million-dollar question: What can you really achieve with the right vocal coach by your side? The possibilities are as vast as they are rewarding, spanning from technical prowess to invaluable life skills. This section explores the multifaceted benefits that a vocal coach can bring into your life.

Voice Control

Voice control is a cornerstone of vocal mastery, enabling you to manipulate pitch, tone, and volume with precision. This isn’t merely about hitting the high notes; it’s about having a full grasp of your vocal capabilities.

Pitch Accuracy

A skilled vocal coach will guide you through exercises that hone your ability to maintain pitch, making sure you’re neither flat nor sharp.

Dynamic Control

From soft crooning to powerful belts, a coach teaches you how to modulate your volume and tone to suit different styles and emotional tones.

Vocal Range Expansion

Many singers limit themselves to a comfortable range, but a vocal coach can help you safely explore new heights and depths in your voice.

Safe Techniques

Safely expanding your vocal range involves more than just pushing your voice. Learn the anatomical aspects of singing and the importance of warm-up and cool-down exercises.

Versatility

A broader vocal range can open up new opportunities, from tackling more complex songs to exploring different genres that were once outside your capabilities.

Artistic Growth

Your voice is more than just an instrument; it’s an extension of you. Beyond technical skills, a vocal coach helps you explore the nuances that make your voice unique and teaches you how to bring your personal touch to your performances.

Interpretation Skills

Learning the technical aspects of a song is one thing, but conveying its emotional depth is another. Your vocal coach will help you understand the subtleties of tempo, phrasing, and dynamics to make each song your own.

Emotional Connection

Unlock the power of connecting emotionally with your audience. From the choice of song to the delivery of each line, learn how to convey emotion in a way that moves listeners.

Style and Genre

A coach can help you refine your style or even develop versatility across various genres, be it pop, rock, jazz, or classical.

Stage Presence

Mastering the craft of singing isn’t solely about what happens in the vocal cords. It’s also about how you present yourself on stage. From body language to eye contact, learn the subtleties that transform a singer into a performer.

Song Choice

The songs you choose to perform can speak volumes about you as an artist. Learn how to select pieces that not only showcase your vocal range and abilities but also resonate with your artistic persona.

Personal Development

While the spotlight often shines on the musical and artistic growth achieved through vocal coaching, the journey also presents an invaluable opportunity for personal development. It’s not just about the high notes or the applause; it’s about how the process shapes you as an individual.

Building Confidence

Whether it’s conquering stage fright or mastering a difficult tune, every achievement bolsters your self-confidence. This newfound confidence can permeate other areas of your life, making you more assertive and self-assured.

Self-Discipline

Singing isn’t just talent; it’s hard work. Regular practice sessions and vocal exercises instil a sense of discipline that can benefit you in various aspects of life, from work to personal relationships.

Stress Relief

Many find the act of singing to be therapeutic. As you focus on your breathing, posture, and delivery, you may find that singing becomes a form of mindfulness, helping you relieve stress and improve your overall mental well-being.

Communication Skills

Learning to control your voice can have applications beyond singing. Effective communication is key in many areas of life, and the skills you acquire can make you a more persuasive speaker and a more attentive listener.

Achieving Your Goals

Setting and achieving musical goals with your vocal coach can serve as a microcosm for larger life goals. Learn how to set achievable milestones, work towards them, and celebrate your achievements, all of which can be applied to personal and career aspirations.

Opportunities and Networking

Your vocal coach is not just a mentor in the art of singing; they are often a well-connected professional with a wealth of experience and contacts in the industry. By aligning yourself with the right coach, you unlock a network that can offer you new avenues for your career and personal growth.

Industry Contacts

Your coach likely has a diverse range of contacts, from recording studios to talent agents. A recommendation from a trusted vocal coach can sometimes be the golden ticket you need to get your foot in the door.

Gig Opportunities

If your vocal coach is active in the local music scene, they may have information on upcoming gigs, auditions, or open-mic nights. This is a practical way to gain live performance experience and exposure.

Collaboration

Through your coach, you might meet other musicians and vocalists, opening up opportunities for collaboration. Whether it’s forming a band or being a guest vocalist on a track, these experiences enrich your portfolio and skill set.

Masterclasses and Workshops

Vocal coaches often have the inside track on upcoming masterclasses, workshops, or vocal camps. These experiences can offer more intensive training and a chance to learn from other esteemed professionals in the field.

In-Person Training vs Singing Courses & Virtual Singing Lessons

In this modern age, aspiring singers have more training options than ever before. While each format has its pros and cons, understanding the differences can help you tailor your vocal training journey to your individual needs.

Online Singing Courses

Singing courses, often pre-recorded and available online, offer a convenient and often budget-friendly way to learn. They are great for acquiring foundational knowledge at your own pace.

Pros

Flexibility: Learn whenever you want

Cost-Effective: One-time payment for lifetime access

Variety: Wide range of topics covered

Cons

Lack of Personalisation: One-size-fits-all approach

No Real-time Feedback: Potential for developing bad habits

Virtual Singing Lessons

These are live lessons conducted over video conferencing platforms. They offer more personalisation compared to pre-recorded courses and are ideal for those who are geographically isolated.

Pros

Personalised Guidance: Real-time feedback

Convenience: No travel required

Safe: Ideal for the current times

Cons

Limited Practicality: Some exercises and assessments may not translate well over video

Tech Issues: Internet stability, sound quality

In-Person Training

The traditional format of face-to-face coaching remains the gold standard for many aspiring singers. The immediate feedback and hands-on approach are unmatched.

Pros

Hands-on Training: Immediate correction and guidance

Relationship Building: Stronger rapport with your coach

Networking: Easier access to local opportunities

Cons

Cost: Generally more expensive

Location Bound: Limited to local coaches

At a Glance: Comparing Your Training Options

For those of you keen to see how each training format stacks up side by side, we’ve prepared a quick-reference table below. Use it to easily compare your options across key factors like flexibility, cost, and more.

AttributesOnline CourseVirtual LessonsIn-Person Training
FlexibilityHigh (Self-paced)Moderate (Scheduled)Low (Scheduled)
CostLow (One-time fee)Moderate (Per session)High (Per session)
PersonalisationLow (Generic)High (Tailored)High (Tailored)
Real-Time FeedbackNoYesYes
ConvenienceHigh (Anywhere)High (Anywhere with internet)Moderate (Travel required)
PracticalityModerateLow (Tech limitations)High (Immediate correction)
SafetyHigh (Remote)High (Remote)Varies
NetworkingLowModerate (Online community)High (Local opportunities)
Tech RequirementsModerate (Stable internet)High (Stable internet, good mic)Low (None)

Knowing When It’s Time to Switch Coaches

Sometimes, the road to vocal mastery isn’t a straight line. Just as you evolve as an artist, your needs in a vocal coach can change over time. This section is dedicated to helping you recognise when it might be time to part ways with your current coach and seek new guidance. We’ll explore the key indicators, from stagnating progress to differences in artistic direction, that signal it might be time for a change.

Stagnating Progress

Even the best relationships can hit a plateau. If you find that you’re no longer advancing in your lessons or that your vocal abilities have remained static, it might be an indicator that you need a fresh perspective. A new coach can provide different techniques and methods that could reignite your progress.

Differences in Artistic Direction

As you mature as an artist, your musical taste and style may evolve. If you find that your current coach is not able to support your new direction, whether it’s shifting genres or taking on more challenging pieces, it might be time to consider switching to a coach who specialises in your newfound interests.

Lack of Personal Connection

In a successful coach-student relationship, mutual understanding and trust are crucial. If you find that your connection with your vocal coach has weakened or was never strong to begin with, it might be hindering your progress. A better rapport with a new coach could offer not just better communication but also a more constructive feedback loop.

Financial or Logistical Challenges

Life circumstances can change, affecting your ability to continue lessons with your current vocal coach. Whether it’s budget constraints or an increasingly complicated schedule, sometimes it’s the practicalities that necessitate a change.

Finding Your Perfect Vocal Coach

Your voice is an extraordinary instrument, and like any great musician, you deserve a coach who can help you unlock its full potential. From understanding the why and how of choosing a vocal coach, to weighing up different training formats and recognising when it’s time for a change, the journey is deeply personal and continuously evolving.

Whether you’re dipping your toes into vocal training for the first time or are an experienced singer looking to diversify your skill set, remember that finding the right singing teacher is a vital step in your artistic journey. Armed with the insights from this comprehensive guide, you’re now ready to make a more informed decision and take the next big leap in your singing career.