The profession of teaching singing is a profession that anyone can step into, without certification or licensing. Unfortunately, that allows many unqualified ‘teachers’ to hang the proverbial sign on their door and proclaim themselves ‘experts’. Therefore, the titles vocal coach or voice teacher can sometimes be misleading or confusing, since the bearer of these titles appointed them onto themselves!
I am guilty of calling myself a ‘vocal coach’, even titling my website domain as a vocal coach, but in reality, I am primarily, a voice teacher who focuses on technique and the instrument of the voice. However, once a student betters their technique and becomes a stronger singer, I put the ‘vocal coach’ hat on and help them with their song repertoire and interpretation, while still always keeping their focus on technique. It is always a great joy to see the expressions on my student’s faces when they are able to sing a song with an ease they never had before!
I was a singer who started working professionally at a very young age without any training. I was getting hired on talent only, which was great for a while until my voice completely gave up and I developed nodules. I then had to go back and get the training I should have had in the first place. My wonderful singing teacher, the late Roland Wyatt, was not a vocal coach. He never asked me what songs I wanted to sing. We worked on exercises and technique only. It was Roland who suggested to me that I would make a good teacher, which brings me to where I am today.
Let’s take a look at the different designations of this profession:
Singing Teacher: Primarily a teacher who concentrates on technique and application, understands the anatomy and physiology of the voice, and troubleshoots vocal issues.
Vocal Coach: Primarily a coach who assists a student choosing repertoire and helps the student to interpret material and optimize their performance, both musically and physically.
Repertoire Coach: Same as above, typically an accompanist who works with vocalists on songs while not necessarily focusing on technique.
I consider myself to be a little bit of all these categories, with the emphasis on technique. I believe in substance first, style second.
Now that I am teaching exclusively online, I can concentrate more and more on my students’ technique. I can see them up close, hear them well through my headphones, and by concentrating more on the ‘technique’ part of my role, and less on the ‘performance’ part, I can truly say that I am a ‘singing teacher’ who can coach as well.