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Tips for Finding a Vocal Coach




Tips for finding your next vocal coach from Micah Barnes

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A singer's relationship with a vocal coach is potentially life-changing. It’s not just about getting better at “hitting your high notes”. A good voice coach is working with a singer on our most intimate fears and deepest challenges, digging down into the places we are scared to go to on our own, so it’s very important to find someone we can feel comfortable with. We want to be able to put our absolute trust in our coach!


 

Micah Barnes and his Performance Intensive students

Tip #1: When Should I Be Working with a Coach?

The answer is…. long before you think you need to!


Why? Let me fill you in on that. The most challenging thing about being a voice coach is that we usually meet a new singer when they are stressed out about an upcoming performance or

recording session, most times vocally exhausted from singing without proper technique or

under a lot of pressure from their manager, agent, label, or financial backers to make a big change in their vocal approach to serve the project better.


That's terrible pressure and puts a gun to a singer's head right when we need to be open relaxed and receptive….


Any experienced coach should be able to make a noticeable difference in a short period of time, however the best coaching (and learning) happens slowly and over a stretch of time, so this kind of “emergency work” is not the ideal circumstance to make a lasting change to a

singers technique. In my experience, it’s the singers who come to work with a coach many months in advance of a new tour, recording, or showcase opportunity that are able to “go the deepest” and benefit the most. Most of us learn best when there is a little bit of breathing room in the schedule!


 


Micah working with students

Tip #2: What Should I Be Working On With A Coach?


If you are experiencing vocal exhaustion or unable to hit the notes in your music on a consistent basis then more than likely your technique is not supporting you properly.

If that's the case then working with a coach to bring your technique into sharper focus is usually the first order of business.


Proper breathing, voice production, vocal placement, physical tension, and proper warm-up, there is no end to what we can be working on when it comes to deepening our

singing technique.


Sometimes we need support on our live performance skills or want to work on our material selection, finding the right keys and the songs that suit our voice best, etc. Some coaches have more experience dealing with the issues of the “working professional singer” than others.


The key is to be sure that your coach has a good grasp of the area of music that you are

looking to specialize in. Many singing students end up trying to please the coach by working on material that is outside of our area of interest.


Always keep your own instincts and choices alive as you work towards a clearer understanding of what suits you and your style best!


 

Singers Playground students

Tip # 3: How Will I Know If A Coach Is Right For Me?

……..Ask them a ton of questions!


There are just as many different kinds of coaches as there are singers! I highly recommend “shopping” for the coach that is best suited for your needs.


There are some coaches who teach a specific vocal technique, or who are more knowledgeable about a certain style of music. Although most reputable coaches can handle the variety of issues that singers need support on, every coach has a specialty or two.


Find out what they are by asking! If they are trained and teaching a classical-based technique chances are they won’t have the right tools to help support you in “nonclassical” singing.

However finding a top-notch coach who is not teaching classical technique can be really challenging, especially in smaller towns and cities.


Most top industry coaches are coaching online sessions these days though so that makes access easier!


However, I would strongly warn against learning techniques from videos or online

“courses” that don’t offer one-on-one vocal coaching. There is no “one size fits

all” when it comes to working with individual voices and I've seen a lot of bad

habits and harm from singers who were trying to “save a buck” and work along

with online coaching courses.


You’ll want to know if you have a good fit before booking a batch of sessions in

advance! It’s always best that you start by having a conversation, either on the

phone or in person so you can get a feel for their personality and get a sense of

what their focus is, then I would recommend booking a single session and seeing how it goes from there.


 

Micah and Cameron

Tip #4: Where Do I Find A Vocal Coach?

…..Ask other singers!!


Sometimes the most established or well-known coach isn’t necessarily the perfect coach for your needs. I would stay away from coaches with online Ads that promise immediate results. Start by reaching out to the coaches whose reputations are rock solid within the area of the industry that you are interested in working in.


The best approach is to ask other singers who they have benefitted from working with, keeping in mind that not all singers are looking for the same thing from a coach.


 



Tip # 5: What Should I Do If It’s Not Working Out?


Sometimes a singer and a coach don’t click personality-wise, sometimes we don’t feel comfortable with a coach's teaching methods, and sometimes we simply aren’t seeing

the results that we were hoping for.


Before blaming the coach I would suggest that every singer have a good long look in the mirror and make sure they have been actually following the suggestions and doing the daily work that it takes to change one's vocal technique. Sometimes we just don’t have the time to properly focus on the work we are being asked to do, but usually, we end up procrastinating out of fear.


In my experience, many singers who find they aren’t able to focus on daily exercises end up blaming the coach's methods when they don’t see enough results.


I recommend an honest conversation with your coach about “how it’s going” whenever possible. If you honestly don’t feel that things are working find a way to gracefully move on and try working with someone new.


Keep in mind that coaches are used to singers moving on for a variety of reasons, it happens all the time and you don’t have to feel guilty or bad about it.


Just make sure you don’t repeat the same work habits with the next one! :)


See you in the Playground! #Coachingismyjam



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Hope these Tips have proved helpful! Happy to chat about Vocal Coaching sessions and any other questions you may have!


Feel free to e-mail me at Singers Playground Studios at micah@singersplayground.com


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