Voice Teachers verses Vocal Coaches- the difference

What is the difference you may have been asking yourself?  You hear these two terms, but it can be confusing to know whether they are just different ways to describe the same thing or really different things.  Well, the mystery shall now be solved:

Voice teachers and Voice coaches are two different things.

There is a lot of spilling over from one to the other though and some people do a both.  But in general this is the deal.

The Voice Teacher

Your Voice Teacher is your vocal technician.  Their job is to teach you the mechanics of the voice and how to use it properly by using the correct technique to get it out of your mouth in the most beautiful, freest way possible.  This will be done through vocal exercises,  (Vocalize!- my book filled to the brim with Vocalizes).  They will discuss and work with you on proper jaw and tongue release, body support, connection, posture, breathing etc…Their job is to teach you how to sing your best technically.  How to get the sound out of you in the best and freest way.  If you are looking on improving your voice and or learning how to sing your best, you want to start with a Voice teacher. (like me :))

The Vocal Coach

A vocal coach’s job is to teach you how to approach, interpret, and perform a song.  This has nothing to do with your vocal technique, that is separate. They are usually great pianists, that can play through any of your music.  Their job is to discuss with you your “styling” of a piece.  Kind of like an acting coach for singing.  But this is not about stage direction, more about your approach to a piece of music.  So for example a classical vocal coach would know the difference between different composers and the styles in which you sing them, they would be able to help you develop your cadenzas, help you with your pacing of a piece, your translations, your interpretations.  They would be familiar with the many ways to sing a piece, the history behind the music.

A coach can bring you to that next level of performance.  I had the most amazing coach for years.  I would study with a voice teacher separately and then go to him to learn how to really sing my songs.  He would always give me ideas on the interpretations and styling of my pieces.  He was also great at helping me to add new repertoire.  The man could play the piano just AMAaaazingly.  He gave me the professional level of experience that I was looking for as a singer who was a performer.

Now that you hopefully understand the difference between coach and teacher there is more to be said. Many voice teachers do coach during their lessons.  I know I do,  I discuss interpretation of music, work on performance skills with my students etc…  And many Vocal coaches dabble in technique.  I know my coach did a bit because he had such a fabulous ear for music.  So these two teachers are not a black and white divide.

Some teachers and coaches can do both better than others.  But, the big issue with having both a voice teacher and vocal coach is that you have to PAY FOR BOTH OF THEM.  This is very expensive.  These people (should be) very well trained and worth their fees, but for a singer who has not hit the golden gig yet, it is a tough expense to fork out week after week.

So you need to figure out what is right for you.  If money is not an issue, then go for both.  But if it is, (which it usually is), you probably do not need both unless you are really training at a high level.  Get your voice down first.  Learn from other great singers and allow them to be “your coaches”.  You can also coach once or twice a month while keeping up regular weekly voice lessons, or save your coaching sessions for big performances.  I think coaches come in as you become more professional. They are a fabulous thing to be able to do as a singer, but you need to start by getting your vocal technique together first.

Hope that helped clear it up. :)

Ariella Vaccarino

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written by Ariella Vaccarino creator of  Voice Lessons To Go(singing lessons on CD) and author of Vocalize!

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