5 Questions You Need to Ask Before Hiring a Vocal Coach
Nowadays, it seems you can find a voice coach everywhere you go. You can apply for an online singing course, Skype lessons and much more. It’s great that we have so many voice coaches available to us, but this makes it very hard to decide on a voice coach. Is there a way to make sure we have hired the right one? Can we ensure the approach they are teaching will really suit our learning style, and most importantly, our voice? The answer is yes. If you are struggling between hiring several voice coaches, the following 5 questions will help you make a decision you won’t regret.
Keep in mind that every voice is unique and that there isn’t a thing such as having a unique approach that fits all voice types. If a voice coach tells you that, he is just trying to sell you a probably useless and expensive singing course. When hiring a vocal coach, you need to find someone who will approach your voice the right way and help you achieve your singing goals in the most efficient manner.
Let’s take a closer look at the five questions you need to ask before hiring a vocal coach.
#1 – Can they actually sing?
Your voice coach may have awesome looking videos that sound great, but can they actually sing? If they are straining while singing or going red in the face while shouting their words, there is obviously something very wrong with their technique. A person who is not able to sing with ease will not be able to coach you effectively. Also, misapplying a signing technique may put your vocal health in danger.
Singing is always a pain-free, strain free, comfortable, easy and joyous activity. If a voice coach wants you to do something that is confusing, physically difficult, painful or similar, you are drinking from the wrong fountain. I recommend finding a coach whose singing you really enjoy, and someone who’s coaching method you get, and who can really understand your singing goals. A coach who makes you fight your true voice is not a good coach.
Singing is an act of coordination, and it has nothing to do with physical force. Make sure you find a coach who doesn’t yell while singing. Instead, he or she should sing a relaxed and clear manner without pushing or straining. On the flip side, if a voice coach correctly demonstrates scales and certain singing exercises, but simply doesn’t know to sing an actual song, you will also run into many problems in your singing process. A great singer doesn’t necessarily have to be a great coach. But a great coach must be a great singer!
#2 – Do they tailor their approach according to your voice?
As I mentioned before, every voice is unique, and your singing approach must be developed in such a way to specifically tailor your voice type needs. Using the same singing approach on different voice types is impossible. There is no such thing as a secret technique or a one-size-fits-all solution. If you come across a coach who is trying to sell you this, know that his one-size-fits-all approach will not help your voice.
#3 – Can they explain singing terms and techniques in a simple way?
A vocal coach who flippantly repeats classical terms until you somehow understand it on your own is not a good voice coach. If a coach wants to teach you Appoggio, or the Open Throat technique but they cannot actually explain how to approach these techniques in a physical way and how they are intended to help you singing voice, you are going to have a lot of problems. In most cases, classical singing terms are just a figure of speech, and you should never take them as literal instructions. For example, Open Throat singing has nothing to do with literally opening or widening your throat. It actually refers to singing without the use of your throat. In order to apply the Open Throat Technique properly in your singing, your soft palate and vocal folds are actually closed, and your vocal tract is narrowed towards closure. In essence, singing with open throat actually means singing without your throat or with a closed throat. A good voice coach must be able to explain to you the true meaning behind some confusing terms and singing techniques. Merely repeating and expecting you to understand somehow a term that is most likely translated incorrectly or outdated will not help you sing better.
#4 – Do they teach the principles of foundation?
In order to sing better, it is vital to set a proper foundation. In order to build a solid foundation, you need to learn diaphragmatic breathing, how to ensure your voice has adequate support, frequency placement, and resonance production. Foundation is the first thing a good vocal coach should show you. If their singing method doesn’t involve diaphragmatic breathing, register release, vowel shaping, and other singing principles that are vital for setting up a solid foundation, you should look for someone else.
#5 – Do they provide ongoing feedback?
Most of the progress that you make as a singer comes after, or in between your singing lessons. However, your voice coach should always provide you with ongoing feedback. If they don’t want to answer simple questions and provide feedback, you will most likely be shooting in the dark when you practice on your own. An excellent vocal coach must answer your emails and calls and provide ongoing feedback on to your progress between your singing lessons.
By asking yourself, and your voice coach these five questions before you take a singing lesson with them, you’re not only going to save yourself a lot of time, effort, and money, but you will also save your voice from unnecessary and unhealthy vocal strain. You will best work with someone whose voice you enjoy when they sing and with whose singing method you can click with.
A great place to start is with the free foundations short courses available here at Bohemian Vocal Studio, and then when you’re ready to take your voice to the next level you can book a Skype Session and we’ll get started!
If you have any questions about finding a voice coach, feel free to leave any feedback or questions below!
Kegan DeBoheme is Bohemian Vocal Studio’s resident vocal coach and voice expert. He teaches professional singing and voice technique to students all around the world and enjoys providing tutorials like this one on how to improve your voice.