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Voice Lessons: What to look for in YOUR teacher

With the popularity of Broadway, pop music, and parishioner-led worship leading at an all-time high, vocal training has become more popular than ever before. Although Covid has hampered our performance opportunities, singing and performing WILL be back, and you’ll be looking for that perfect teacher for you or your loved one. What should you be looking for in a vocal Instructor? Let’s break it down below!

In choosing instruction in any discipline, it’s vital to examine your why (for more

On WHY, click here). Have you had previous training and want to brush up in preparation for that wedding/audition/graduation you’ve been asked to sing at? Find a vocal COACH: someone trained to take what you already know and help you polish it. A great vocal coach will be well-versed in many vocal styles and should be flexible enough on their approach to highlight YOUR best vocal qualities, rather than attempting to mold you into an entirely different kind of vocalist. A GREAT coach will be able to credibly accompany you during lessons, offer performance suggestions, and have one foot in the performance community as well. When was the last time your coach did a gig? They may hate contemporary music but can they enthusiastically bring out your best Arianna Grande? A fabulous coach should give you concrete instruction, specific techniques to work on, and provide constant feedback throughout your lessons. A great coach will always inspire you to be your best!

Looking to learn how to match pitch, become a better vocalist in general, or are you interested in making music with others? If that’s the case, you’ll want to look for a vocal instructor. The ideal vocal instructor will have a degree in music, with a performance or pedagogy emphasis. No, a degree does not an artist make...but what a degree DOES do is (hopefully) guarantee that your instructor has learned and can teach healthy and proper vocal techniques. Handy tip: if they know what you mean by “pharyngeal space”, they are on the right track.

A terrific instructor can help you learn to read music, understand note values and names, learn intervallic relationships and how to sight-read them, and can build your foundation from non-singer to competent musician in a healthy manner.

Most voice instructors will have a specialty, whether it be classical voice, musical theatre, or even pop- and they may have retired from “gigging”, but they should be keeping abreast of what’s happening in the music world at large.

Be warned: your voice is a delicate instrument. It can be damaged and even destroyed. Yes unhealthy belting technique, singing from an unnaturally High larynx, experiencing high levels of tight jaw, or neck tension can all lead to hoarseness, inflammation, and even calluses on the vocal folds called vocal

Nodules, or "nodes" for short.

What’s the takeaway from all this? Simply put: do your homework when seeking out a long-term instructor or even a short-term vocal coach. Your future vocal health depends on it!!

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