I had to write about this subject, because I am flat out tired of students coming to me who’ve been studying with another coach for years, yet they still lack the basic universal vocal techniques. With that said, I am NOT referring to any teacher in particular. This is simply based on the comments I’ve received from countless of students. So here goes:
Over the years I’ve worked with many students who’ve attended colleges, or taken private lessons, spending THOUSANDS of dollars on vocal lessons, yet still lacking an understanding of what it takes to keep the voice in shape. I truly don’t believe you need to spend countless hours with the same vocal coach, or a series of coaches, spending a wad of cash that could buy you a new car. But I have this opinion because I don’t really consider myself a vocal coach. I am more of a voice-strengthening specialist. Lots of touring/recording artists will come to me when their voice is lacking stamina, range, or power, which is usually caused by a rigorous road schedule or when the singer allows laziness to creep in and make their technique a bit sloppy. With voice strengthening, a couple lessons may do wonders, helping the student to re-establish their technique an begin working with a vocal workout routine that will build their voices to meet their needs.
In all honesty, I am impatient, so I really hate to do more than a small handful of lessons with a singer. I personally prefer when a student does one or two lessons, works hard for a month or two, then returns if needed. I do understand that many coaches are not only working on technique but repertoire as well, helping their students master a series of songs, and I am okay with that. I’ve actually had students work with me every week for months as the pounded through the writing process. In the case of vocal style, it is understood that a singer may want more lessons so that the coach can help them correct flaws they may not, by their own hearing, realize they possess.
But the bottom line is, if you’ve had a half dozen or more lessons and you haven’t noticed any improvement, yet your coach tells you it may take years, best save your money and just buy a karaoke machine instead. Any passionate coach will help a student progress from lesson to lesson, until they’ve reached a point where they need to spread their wings and begin flying Vocal Airlines on their own. How many lessons? I do not know, but I couldn’t imagine it would take dozens. As far as I am concerned, I push my students to master the technique, work with the exercises and sing, sing, sing. Once you’re on your own, just remember, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. In other words, quit wasting money on lessons. Yeah sure, a student may come back for a tune up, just like a car, but all in all, if you begin understanding your technique and applying it, you should get better.
Now, if you don’t practice like you’re told, you have no one to blame but yourself. A coach is there to guide you and give you a program to make you progress to the next level. If you’re lazy, don’t expect your voice to magically change. But, if you practice like a maniac and you’ve hit some sort of plateau and you just cannot break the barrier, yet your coach keeps saying, “so, when do you want another lesson?” yet you haven’t moved on vocally, ditch yer coach and search for another;)
In ending, this is just me rambling, so take it with a grain of salt. If you are making quantum leaps vocally with your vocal coach and want to do more than a dozen lessons, I say go for it. But start paying attention to your coach. Listen close enough and you’ll know whether your coach is in it for the passion or for the money. Hey, vocal coaching IS a real job so we need to eat as well, but that shouldn’t stop your coach from giving you the best they can give:)