Techniques for singing can be improved substantially by scheduling a vocal lesson with a reputable voice coach.
How do you know if you need help and when? It’s a good idea to start out your performing career by laying a foundation of good techniques for singing. Starting with an empty slate is a whole lot easier than finding out later in your career that you have to correct long-standing bad habits.
Watch for these symptoms of a voice in trouble:
Sore throat during or after singing
Pitch problems, sharp or flat
Feeling that you need to sing louder to maintain the tone
Feeling that you need to whisper to get the words out
Finding it difficult to pronounce the words
Lack of emotional communication with audience
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you might want to start asking around for that vocal coach we talked about and begin to develop some valid singing techniques for yourself.
I once asked country singer (first singer to record “Wind Beneath My Wings”) and Broadway star (Les Miserables) Gary Morris why he thought he needed to take a vocal lesson. He replied by saying, “You might be a big, tough guy, but you wouldn’t get in the ring with Mike Tyson without an expert trainer in your corner.” Good analogy, Gary!
How can you know what to expect from the singing coaches you may interview? Look first at their resume, client list, and fees — as is true in many fields, you tend to get what you pay for. Are any of the students known to you? Ask the coach to supply you with a way to contact present and/or former students. Encourage the coach to explain their personal philosophy of techniques for singing. What is most important to them? Vocal safety? Emotional impact? Perfect singing techniques? A five octave range? (And you need five octaves for what?)
At some point you have to quit looking and start trusting. Once you have the information you need to make a carefully considered decision, it’s time to hand yourself over to the strange things this individual will ask you to do in a vocal lesson. I, for one, admit my warm-up exercises sound a little dorky, but they work! And that’s what counts.
If you would like to work with me contact my office at MyVoiceCoach@comcast.net or by calling 615.244.3280.
You have to trust your singing teacher, but keep an open mind. Regularly check your progress by taping yourself and listening to the results. Ask for progress evaluations from trusted friends and family. If your progress seems to be stalled or you are plagued by the serious voice problems listed above — well, it might be time to move on to a better fit. I always give my students a %100 guarantee that if my techniques for singing better don’t work for them, they can always go back to what wasn’t working for them before.
With the right vocal coach you can learn how to sharpen your techniques for singing freely and how to craft a song to move an audience from tears to joy and back again. But when it comes to making career moves you need to be a self-starter.
You can ask for feedback from your singing teacher when opportunities come your way. They should be able to help you make informed decisions, but don’t expect your vocal coach to manage your career, or get you a record deal — that is, unless they offer that service and have a track record of success.