Why do I need vocal coaching if I’m already talented? The answer to this is similar to why olympic athletes need coaches. Talent, while certainly important, is overemphasized, and that can get you into serious trouble. Every year commercial music icons cancel shows or cut tours short because their voices are failing. That usually isn’t because of a lack of talent. Often it’s because they don’t understand the most efficient and sustainable way to use their voices when performing on a 7 day a week schedule. The truth is there isn’t much sensation directly around the vocal folds. This means that damaging habits, oftentimes, don’t physically hurt, and performers often blow their voices out before they even realize anything is wrong.
Should I take lessons from the best singer I can find? A lot of performers turn to teaching when the money is tight. But teaching isn’t like performing. A performer has to know their own voice, but no one else’s. They usually don’t have a background in education techniques and the science of singing. Oftentimes they haven’t faced the specific obstacle their students might be dealing with, and have no concept on how to actually help them. I’m not saying incredible performers can’t be incredible teachers - they can and sometimes are! My point is that the two are very different skill sets, and each have to be developed in their own right. A skilled teacher, on the other hand, has hopefully coached thousands of voices and come up with a structured approach that can be applied and modified to fit any individual. They will teach you the technique that you need, specifically, and know how to best explain it so you make the most amount of progress in each session.
How do I know if a voice teacher is good? This is a difficult question to answer. How do you know if any professional you hire is good at their job? In todays world, we often look at training and credentials to determine how skilled a person is. This is a good start! Unfortunately, training and knowledge, while important, don’t automatically make someone a good teacher. I think it’s helpful to use a dual approach when appraising the quality of a voice teacher. First of all, do their students get better, no matter how talented they are? The real test of a teacher is how consistently people that work with them improve, rather than how high profile their clients are to begin with. Secondly, once you start working with a teacher, evaluate if singing feels easier with every lesson. Of course their will be tough days, and times when physically your voice isn’t in it’s best shape due to things outside of your control. Generally speaking, though, your trajectory should be towards singing which feels easier and easier with each session. If that’s not the case, go find a new teacher.
What sets your work apart from someone else’s? First of all, every coach brings something unique to the table. I encourage all my clients to go work with other coaches, provided the experience isn’t confusing or detrimental to their progress. No single vocal coach is perfect, or right for everyone. That said, I have over the years developed an approach that I think can be described with one word: “synthesis.” I do not believe in dealing with any obstacle in isolation - meaning that there are several causes and several approaches to overcoming whatever difficulty you’re facing. I believe this approach to problem solving increases progress exponentially, meaning with every added element, you rate of improvement is multiplied. Because I have a background in acting, music directing, singing, bodywork, and non traditional (and traditional) education I am able to combine these viewpoints into concrete exercises to ensure you make the fastest possible progress. Every exercise I give you is simultaneously addressing several aspects of learning at once. The beauty is, though, you don’t have to worry about that. I’m a big believer in simplicity. I make everything as succinct and easy to understand as possible. Lastly, as an expert accompanist, I am able to help you directly apply anything you learn to your music, and prepare you appropriately for auditions and performances.