What is the difference between a voice teacher and a vocal coach?
Vocal Coaches Verses Voice Teachers…. Verses Vocal Producers… Verses Producers that think they’re vocal coaches… verses Banjo/Kazoo Players that also teach voice lessons…..verses …..
Most teachers of the various singing instruction available in the myriad of vestibules strewn throughout the land, are indeed at best vocal coaches. After seeing the misdirection given to countless singers over the years, the only thing I would seek advice from a typical vocal coach is performance, repertoire and career counseling. And that would only be from a highly reputable coach of good professional standing. In the instances where coaching is needed in a performance or recording situation, that coaching should be in broad strokes and stay in the realm of energy and emotion. The very bad advice often given on “breathing, and projection, and reaching, and just do this with your mouth to hit that note” etc., should be avoided at all costs.
Just because Someone majors in voice, doesn’t mean they have any true voice teaching skills. In fact the two have very little to do with each other. Most voice majors already possess a lot of vocal competence to be accepted to a decent music school. And most professors in voice departments are far more versed in repertoire and music education than vocal production. They serve as vocal coaches in this capacity, not vocal teachers. In fact, most truly high level vocal programs send students that need special attention to voice specialists outside of their own program. Teaching voice is a specialty skill that requires a very specific set of talents and education. I have taught several voice majors during my career that were actively attending NYU, Berklee, Columbia, CU, UT Austin etc. These students either sought me out for my specific vocal mechanics expertise, or were referred to me by professors at these institutions. In fact while I was studying at The New England Conservatory as a voice major, I was directed to Voice Master Peter Elvins, who taught outside of NEC.
Find a great teacher. OK just isn’t a good idea when it comes to voice instruction.
Quotes from various highly renowned voice teachers regarding compromised vocal instruction
P. MARIO MARAFIOTI, M.D, ‘CARUSOS METHOD OF VOICE PRODUCTION 1922
Bernard Shaw has said: “He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches.” This may be aptly applied to a condition of affairs now existing in the vocal world.
Teaching is an art requiring great attainments, and not every one can teach. The teacher must have a fundamental basic knowledge of the physiology of the voice, not from mere hearsay, but from actual study and work. He must know physical
principles of acoustics, and must have an elementary anatomical and physiological knowledge of the vocal organs. Then, too, he must be a musician, endowed with an exceptionally fine ear, and keen powers of communication in order to reach the average intelligence of pupils.
Considering all these things, I contend that the teaching of singing is a difficult profession, which few are competent to follow. To those few I submit my thesis, and request their constructive criticism. There is a large class of singing teachers, however, made up of unscrupulous intruders, whose pernicious influence is of inestimable harm both to the competent teachers and to the inexperienced students. The field of teaching is kept in a degraded and unwholesome condition by the malpractices of these individuals who, disregarding, without investigation, any ideas which might throw light on the difficult problems of voice culture, retard its progress and evolution. Their origin is usually traced to studios where as accompanists they have laid the only foundation for their careers.
Some of them do not even belong to the musical field. Daring outsiders of any social strata secure admittance to the musical world through connections with singers or teachers, and with no other title or support than their boldness and audacity, gain a foothold in the free land of voice teaching unmolested, taking advantage of the public ignorance and indifference. In this way they succeed in making themselves conspicuous in the domain of voice culture. The unfortunate result is that they find the road to their misdeeds wide open, while it remains closed to the really earnest and competent professionals, who disdain to lower themselves to undignified competition. From this class of unscrupulous intruders the author expects no recognition.
From D. Appleton And Company New York City 1922
I sincerely believe that it (voice training) belongs to those men of science who have devoted themselves to the study of the natural functions of the vocal organs trained for an artistic purpose, to solve the so called mysterious vocal problem, obscured by the ignorance and charlatanism of incompetent teachers. D. Appleton 1922
Marchesi Vocal Method 1910
Competent voice teachers are all shooting for the same goal, but may think about it in different ways. Incompetent voice teachers come in all stripes and the only similarity is that they either don’t know what good singing sounds like or don’t know how to elicit it from their students.
Ken Tamplin of KTVA (Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy) 2014
“I’ve known people who started with very strong singing voices that took vocal instruction from vocal coaches they had not investigated prior to taking instruction. Many of them ended up ruining their voices. It’s absolutely tragic!”
University Study of Private Voice teachers in Ireland 2013
(Worrying has increased over the last 10 years, as singing has increased in popularity as the instrument of choice, which has seen many music teachers sideline their own specialist instruments in favor of teaching voice WITHOUT good vocal knowledge.
The Bar is High…….Reach For It
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