Online Vocal Training (What you need to know first!)
Online Vocal Training has become the gold standard of learning how to sing – with a plethora of online singing courses and an oversaturation of YouTube singing gurus marketing their expensive wares with “How to sing like…” clickbait videos, it’s important that you know what you’re getting into first before stepping into the world of Online Vocal Training.
When I first started learning how to sing, the internet was really in its formative stages, and being in high school in the pre-smartphone days, the only resource for singing was classical training with a local coach, what you learned from your favourite records and a few very basic singing courses online (Remember AOL?). We live in a brave new world now where the world’s best vocal training program is available at a click, and almost anyone can go online spouting their expertise as a voice coach, even when they have no discernable skill or understanding about the voice.
Singing is the easy part, but learning how to sing can be a minefield of confusing information, archaic terms, expensive courses and resources loaded with marketing materials designed to sell courses and lessons instead of helping you learn how to sing. Well, I’m here to tell you exactly what you need to know first before delving into the world of online vocal training.
The BEST vocal training program (doesn’t exist)
Your voice is unique, and hence the approach that works for you might not work for the next person and vice versa. I can think of at least 5 or so vocal approaches out there that boldly claim that they are “The Best” or they will help you “Sing Better Than Anyone Else” – when in fact this is a loaded statement full of falsity. Being that we all have unique voices and a unique build to our vocal mechanism and resonators, how can a one-size-fits-all vocal program REALLY be the best vocal training program available? Of course it can’t, but claims like these, accompanied by impressive recording studio videos and shiny marketing tricks generate sales. There is no such thing as the BEST vocal training program, on the best vocal training program for YOUR unique voice.
Where there ARE a number of great resources out there designed to actually help you sing, most vocal approaches out there are ingeniously designed to give you JUST enough information to keep you coming back to buy the next level, or buy expensive lessons with a singing guru just for clarification or to ask even the most basic question. It’s important that you ask these five questions before signing up to online vocal training or buying an online singing course.
#1 – Do their videos/resources ACTUALLY help you sing better?
This is surprisingly huge. If you’re leaning towards a specific vocal approach or particular vocal coach, that’s great – but you first need to ask yourself, are their videos and resources actually showing you anything, or are they simply making you feel like they hold a secret that you yourself don’t possess? This is the essence of internet marketing and is a powerful sales tool.
A great way to learn if an online voice coach is legit is if their videos and tutorials actually show you something practical and useful, and you walk away from the experience knowing something you weren’t previously aware of, or able to sing in a manner you couldn’t before you applied their tips and advice.
#2 – Can they actually sing themselves?
A great singer doesn’t necessarily make a great voice coach, but a good singing teacher should ALWAYS be a great singer. Do you like their singing tone? Do you like the way they articulate their vowels and ascend through their range? Or are they pushing a style or method that really doesn’t apply to the manner in which you wish to sing? Bingo. The best way forward is to find a voice coach who has developed an approach that you identify with, along with possessing a singing voice that you yourself would like to build – there’s no point going to Toyota to have them build a Ferrari, but there’s also no point buying a shiny Dodge Ram if you want to do inner city driving and park in small spaces. There’s two sides to every coin – a great singing voice is one that is dynamic and versatile, not permanently colored by stylistic choices such as vocal weight and intensity. If a voice coach or a singer is unable to sing in a pleasant way and appears to push and shout, then this is the voice you will build with their approach. Finding an approach you gel with, and a coach that has designed a practical and useful approach to singing is paramount to your progress as a singer.
#3 – Do they explain complex concepts in a practical manner?
Obviously, if someone claims to know “the secret” to great singing and they will show you in their course, then you’re barking up the wrong tree for professional vocal training. A voice coach should be open, honest and practical in the manner in which they explain even the most complex of singing concepts and techniques, from Appoggio to Open Throat and everything in between.
One important lesson I wish I had learned early on in my progression as a singer is that classical singing terms are often figurative in their intention, and terms like Open Throat are never a literal instruction. As an example, Open Throat Singing actually requires closure in many facets of the voice – a great voice coach will make short work of explaining these techniques and terms to you in a real world and practical way without adding mystery and magic to what is really a natural function of your body – vocalising.
#4 – Do they push an opinion or style?
Sure, a vocal coach needs to be assertive and confident in the way that they coach, but that doesn’t mean that opinions and personal style play any part of being a great teacher. I often see vocal courses and singing coaches teaching stylistic choices or opinions as fact, such as the many generic courses out there that teach students to sing as high as possible in chest voice instead of bridging a balanced connection, in essence building an inadvertent belt into the students voice and creating a bellowed, yelling tone that is a very hard habit to break – all through the opinion and due to the personal style of the singing guru rather than what is required or desired by the student.
If I was a painting coach, and I just LOVED the colour blue – would I take away every other colour from your palate and say that blue is the ONLY color that will make you a great painter? Of course note – but this is exactly what these sorts of courses and gurus are doing. As a beginner singer, you should build a balanced and neutral singing voice first, and as time goes by learning to impart your own stylistic choices into your dynamics and delivery without bypassing the goal posts of vocal health.
If a voice coach seems overly opinionated in a stylistic sense, such as pushing an overly heavy sound under the guise of rock singing lessons or rock belting on every student – then this coach isn’t considering your unique voice, and they’re ultimately putting your vocal health and personal happiness at risk of their ego-driven approach.
I’m personally a ‘rock guy’, but I absolutely can’t stand strained, pushed singing – and thoroughly enjoy coaching students how to sing soul and RnB like Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin. Great singing technique has no opinions, great vocal coaching has no ego, while great SINGING has personal style developed by the individual singer.
#5 – If something seems too good to be true…
Even though I have been singing for close to 20 years and have been building Bohemian Vocal Studio since 2010 myself, I never make wild claims to be “The Best” or be “Perfect” – nobody is infallible, and if a singing guru or vocal course is being put forward in that manner as though they are god’s gift to singing, then it’s too good to be true.
After this many years of singing and developing my own professional approach to singing, I still have to warm up my voice properly, take care of my vocal and personal health and most importantly give my voice a break when I’m having a bad day. Do you see videos from these YouTube gurus first thing in the morning before they’ve warmed up? Do you see the multiple takes they’ve done or the editing that has been performed on their “How to sing like…” videos? Of course not, but it’s important that you understand the voice is a physical and ever-changing instrument. Even the world’s greatest singers get tired, or a have a bad day. If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
By asking these 5 simple questions before delving into Online Vocal Training, you are going to save yourself time, money and most importantly protect your vocal health. Remember, singing is a natural and simple process, if something seems difficult or hard to do, then you’re not doing it correctly. A gerat place to start is the free foundations short courses here at Bohemian Vocal Studio, and then when you’re ready to take your voice to the next level with online vocal training you can book a Skype Session and we’ll get started building your range today!
If you have any questions about online vocal training, feel free to leave any questions or feedback 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.