Choose a Singing Teacher | How to Pick the Right Singing Teacher
How do you choose the best singer teacher for you and is it worth the cost? There are lots of people advertising themselves as singing teachers and vocal coaches. It can be tricky to work out how to approach for lessons.
How to pick the right singing teacher: Choose a singing teacher who has plenty of experience, gets your style and has a proven track record. A good vocal coach will offer expert training in singing techniques that’ll make all the difference to your sound.
But as finding the right singing teacher is such an important decision, how do you go about it and where should you look for one?
Why do you need singing lessons and can you learn to sing?
Making the wrong choice in the singing teacher you choose can lead, at best, to wasted time and money, frustration and a loss of confidence, but at worst, vocal damage.
The right singing teacher can deliver fast results in a safe way and increase your confidence in your abilities.
You need singing lessons in order to learn good vocal techniques. This will help you to protect your voice, gain power, range and longevity as a vocalist. The reason a live singing teacher, as opposed to a DIY or virtual method, is better, is because they can correct you.
Feedback is an important part of the development and someone with the right experience and knowledge will be able to show you where and how you are going wrong.
Even if you think you’re a bad singer or a hopeless case, be assured you can learn to sing. It’s been proven time and again. Check out Felicia Ricci’s guide on how to go from a bad singer, to a good singer:
Choosing your singing style and choosing the right singing teacher
Before you start seeking a singing teacher, it’s helpful to know what kind of singing style you have – or would like to have. Is your sound pop, rock, musical theatre, folksy, operatic, jazz, blues, or something else? There are a lot of crossovers in genres when it comes to the basics of vocal technique, but when it comes to working on tones and specific numbers, it’ll help if your teacher has experience with your style of singing. As you become more advanced, or if you’re already gigging as a singer, it will be an essential part of your choice.
The right singing teacher should make you feel comfortable and at ease, be supportive and motivational and work with you at your own pace to bring out the best in your voice, so you not only feel and hear improvement in your voice but you also really enjoy the experience. Some singing teachers take a tougher approach, some are gentle. Have a think about which you prefer, which you find more motivating and which best suits your learning style.
Below are some pointers to think about when choosing the right singing teacher.
How to find a good singing teacher and singing lessons near me
If you already know or know of singers with good voices check in with them to find out who they take lessons with. Do some research on your local teachers; good references and recommendations are always a good place to start. How far are you prepared to travel? Be aware that singing lessons are ongoing, or at the very least taken in a block if working toward something specific. It needs to be a sustainable journey.
Look for websites with helpful singing tips and advice. If the singing teacher has a professional and up to date website, you will be able to learn a lot more about their style and where they see their clients. The below points should help you to be able to determine if they’re a good fit:
- Pictures of the studio or room where the lessons are held
- Information on the technique they teach
- Relevant training and experience
- Styles of singing they teach
- Quality of equipment provided
- Access to backing tracks and music
- Their availability
The best singing instructor for you: find a singing teacher who’s a good match
One size does not fit all. Although recommendations are a great starting point for you to find a teacher, what is great for one person is not always going to be the case for you. Make sure you are given the opportunity and time to ask any further questions you may have.
A good teacher will be more than happy to be “interviewed” prior to you making a booking. If they are prepared to offer a “taster” or special introductory lesson that is the perfect opportunity for you to make your choice.
Good teachers with a hot reputation may be pretty busy. So be prepared to join a waiting list if they are currently full. Current students’ travel commitments, long term gigs or contracts in other locations and uni, will mean that places do become available from time to time. Or they may be able to recommend another good teacher to ty instead.
What is the lesson format? It is crucial that the teacher you chose is prepared and able to devote a good proportion of the lesson time teaching you vocal technique. This should be done through the use of exercises that are tailored specifically to YOUR voice type.
Unless you are an extremely advanced singer, a quick warm–up or none at all will not be sufficient to develop the technique you will need to enable you to sing a song competently from start to finish and omitting this important stage could ultimately cause vocal damage.
60/40 in favour of technique is an ideal split for a lesson although this may vary depending on individual circumstances. If you have a specific gig or audition coming up this may switch around to ensure your song is perfect before the big day.
Should I get a vocal coach: do you need singing lessons to be good?
The decision to get a vocal coach will depend on what you want to achieve. Ultimately if you want to be a professional, or semi-professional singer and reach your full potential vocally, the answer is yes to both. You should get a vocal coach and you do need singing lessons to be good – really good that is.
Regular honest feedback will do wonders for developing your performance. Friends and family don’t have the ability to be as objective about your work and they might not be great at giving constructive criticism either.
Should I take voice lessons quiz
Perhaps you’re not sure how good your voice is, and whether it’s worth the investment to follow this path. If so, you can take this quiz to get a better idea of where you’re at.
Alternatively, if you’d like to get a better idea of whether singing is for you and likely to be something you’ll enjoy, answer these questions.
While these are by no means definitive guides, they can help shed light on where you are with singing and music.
Can singing lessons make you good?
Even if you (and others) think you’re not a great singer at the moment, know that you can certainly improve. How much so will depend on your genetic make-up and the effort you put in. A singing teacher will be able to identify how much room for improvement there actually is, and what potential you have as a singer. Singing lessons will give you better tone, breath control and tuning.
Are they qualified? Qualifications to teach singing
One of the main benefits in hiring a vocal coach is that they’re trained for the job. You should get a vocal coach if you want someone to work with, who has relevant qualifications. Although this does come with a caveat…
Qualifications can come in many different guises so don’t be too quick to base your decision just on whether they have a degree or a multitude of letters after their name or whether they have had a dazzling and successful singing career themselves.
Having the discipline to study and pass exams does not automatically equate to being an effective and inspirational voice teacher, and being a great singer often doesn’t translate into being a great teacher or coach!
It is, however, an essential requirement that a singing teacher can actually sing as they will need to use their voice to demonstrate a multitude of examples of singing to you.
The best vocal coaches
If you want the very best vocal coach and price is less of an issue, then you’ll need to focus on the evidence of their results. Do their students sing well? The best gauge of a good teacher is to be able to hear the results their students have achieved as a result of having lessons with them.
Their voices should sound individual and stand out for the right reasons so avoid working with a singing teacher whose students all have similar issues with their voices e.g nasal, strained or shouty, breathy or overly stylised to name a few.
A lot of vocal coaches will describe themselves as among the best, as will their stable of singers. But this is a subjective field to some degree, so you must do your research and decide who you think is best. Also, take a look at what their students are doing. Are they landing recording contracts, performing in good venues and attracting attention? The right vocal coach may also have some contacts that will help you to be seen and get on in the music industry.
Top vocal coaches might have the likes of The X-Factor on their CV. Here Eddie and Annabel talk about what it’s like to work with the stars on one of TVs biggest shows.
Singing teacher directory
There are a number of websites containing singing teacher directories. Here are some of the main ones you can use to search for a singing teacher in your area:
- Music Teachers
- The Association of Teachers of Singing
- Singing Teachers
- Local Music Teacher
How to become a singing teacher
If you’re an established, trained singer with excellent knowledge of voice technique, music and plenty of experience in the industry, you might want to become a singing teacher.
That doesn’t mean you no longer receive lessons yourself. Many singers who teach, are also still taught themselves. Ideally, you should have some form of teaching or performance qualification – you’ll need to have an extra large amount of experience and a strong musical presence to be credible if not.
You may want to begin by offering your services to a music school or recording studio. This way you won’t have to find your own clients or organise premises. If you’d rather go it alone, you can advertise on music forums, advertising websites and tutoring listings. You should also start your own website and/or social media sites as well. Either find a suitable location and hire a space or offer services in the students’ homes.
It may be worth talking to existing singing teachers about their path to becoming a vocal coach.
Tips for singing teachers
Here are some tips if you’re starting out by yourself as a singing teacher:
- Get public liability insurance. If you’re working alone with students, you could be held responsible in the unlikely event they hurt themselves or have an accident.
- Register with HMRC. you’ll be classed as self-employed, so will be required by law to fill out a tax return annually. This isn’t difficult if your finances are straightforward, you keep records and are fairly organised. But if not you can hire an accountant.
- Use active listening skills. It’s important your students feel heard and understood when it comes to their aims, goals and concerns.
- Get a peer support group. Working alone can be lonely, so have others who share similar challenges, with whom you can chat regularly.
- Keep up to date with new techniques styles and approaches. This will ensure you stay relevant and can offer the best training. It will also help you gain and retain students.
- Stay open-minded. Just because you originally trained in a specific genre of music, does not make that one the be all and end all. Guide your students to the best songs for them, not the ones you think are the best songs generally.
- Know your value. Set a fair price, but don’t undercharge or let clients take advantage of you. Ultimately this is your business.
The importance of voice lessons and singing classes
Taking voice lessons and singing classes will have lots of benefits. Singing releases chemicals that make you feel good, so the more you do it, the better you’ll feel. It also contributes to overall health and well being, thanks to the way it strengthens the core and lungs.
But if you want to be a professional singer, it’s about more than just that. If you don’t use your voice in the correct ways, or if you pick up bad habits, it can be easy to damage it when singing frequently. Singing lessons will keep it in tip-top shape. They will also ensure you’re continually progressing and developing. Your voice changes with age too, so it’s well worth maintaining the lessons as time goes on.
If you don’t fancy one to one singing lessons, you could take group classes instead. Perhaps join a choir or singing group. These incorporate some vocal technique and training into the practice time. It’s also a much cheaper way to maintain singing just as a hobby.
Choose a singing teacher who’s right for you and it’ll make all the difference to your voice. It can take time to find a singing teacher, but it’s well worth it. I
If you do your research and follow our advice, you’ll be able to work with someone who’s on your wavelength and superb at what they do. You’ll also have fun and achieve a lot more in a short space of time than you would practising by yourself.
- How much do private voice lessons cost?
This depends on where you are in the UK and how in demand your vocal coach is. London is generally the priciest area but has some of the top coaches in the country. Expect to pay anything from £25 to £100 per hour. £35 is around the average though for this kind of tuition.
- Can adults learn to sing?
Singing doesn’t discriminate and unlike playing certain sports, dance or instruments, you don’t need to have been doing it from childhood to excel and have a successful career in it later in life. Most singing teachers will offer classes for adults as well as children – some may only teach adults.
- What to expect when taking singing lessons?
You may be surprised to discover how physically demanding and tiring singing (properly) is. You’ll also find you need to hydrate frequently so take water with you. Your singing teacher will work through a combination of exercises – made up of breathing, diction and scales – followed by songs.
Do you have a wonderful voice coach? How did you choose a singing teacher? Tell us about your hints and tips for how to pick the right singing teacher or vocal coach, in the comments below.