Because it’s tough to know what you’re looking for when trying out new singing teachers, I shared a post giving you 5 things to look for in a voice teacher. I had more to say about the topic than I imagined when I first started writing, so today I’m going to give you 5 more things to look for in a voice teacher!
1. They Should Be Able To Answer Questions About What They’re Having You Do
Sure, your singing teacher may not want to spend the whole voice lesson explaining what she’s having you do, but she should be able to if necessary. If she’s throwing vocal exercises and modifications at you and can’t answer questions about what she’s doing, it’s possible that she’s just drawing from generic exercises she’s heard in the past and doesn’t know how to apply them. It’s also possible that she’s a great teacher who’s just nervous being put on the spot though, so don’t make her feel like she’s in front of a firing squad when you have questions about the lesson.
2. Make Sure They Don’t Continually Ask You To Do Something That Hurts Your Voice
To be clear, it’s completely normal for your voice to be tired at the end of a lesson, particularly when you’re new to lessons. But if your teacher is having you do things that hurt your throat after you’ve made it clear that it’s hurting, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere. Make sure you let your voice teacher know if your voice is feeling strained though. Only you’re in your body, and only you can confidently say what you’re feeling.
3. If You Need Consistency to Stay Motivated (and Who Doesn’t?) Make Sure Your Teacher Doesn’t Need To Cancel For Gigs Too Often
When I first began teaching, I thought that having a music teacher who’s also a working musician was a huge asset. After all, he could give valuable industry experience and relate to his students as performers. And to some degree, this is true. But you want to watch out for someone whose top priority is his own career and who’ll cancel on you every time something comes up. No matter how amazing a teacher he is, the lack of consistency in lessons will make it much more difficult for you to improve and stay motivated. I once had an amazing guitar teacher. He was fantastic at teaching and was an even better musician. But he’d leave for months at a time to go on tour with his band, and by the time he’d come back, I’d have forgotten everything I learned at the previous lesson.
4. Unless You’re Hiring Someone To Specifically Help You With Vocal Exercises, Watch Out For Voice Teachers Who Spend the Entire Lesson Giving You Vocal Exercises
Vocal exercises are incredibly important for singers. They help strengthen your voice, help warm you up to sing better, and help create muscle memory that reinforces healthy singing. But this should not be the extent of your singing lessons. So many times, I’ve worked with singers who’ve told me their past voice teacher did nothing but give them vocal exercises for the first 6 months. While vocal exercises should play a role in voice lessons, they should not play the only role. There is immense value (not to mention fun) in working on actual songs. Even complete beginners with pitch problems can benefit from trying to match pitch on a song. It often helps them learn to match pitch considerably faster, since a melody they love can be more natural to remember and imitate than an exercise.
5. Unless You’ve Specifically Hired Someone to Help You With Your Breathing Issues, Voice Lessons Shouldn’t Be Mainly Breathing Exercises
Breathing is an important aspect of singing. Good breathing techniques help singers increase power, sustain notes longer, and diminish tension in their voices, along with a host of other benefits. But breathing is just one aspect of singing, among many, many others. Too often, voice teachers will spend the bulk of a lesson giving you breathing exercises instead of having you sing. Breathing techniques can be incorporated into vocal exercises and do not need to be isolated from singing practice the entire time. If you’re spending 90% of your voice lessons lying on the floor watching your breath, it might be time to move on.