Before I even get to the list I’m going to present to you today I want to preface it by saying that I believe all trained vocal coaches can significantly improve the average singer’s voice. There are many methods and techniques out there, and quite often you’ll see vocal coaches touting theirs as superior to all others. Even worse is when they go on to point out other methods or techniques as bad or useless. That’s something I think really lacks professionalism and something I avoid doing. I don’t know a single professionally trained vocal coach that doesn’t have a long list of happy, glowing testimonials. Most methods based on solid technique have more similarities than differences.
The truth is, good technique is good technique, period. And there is something to be gained from just about all disciplines of professional vocal technique. I’m going out of my way to point that out because I believe any style of singer can benefit from vocal lessons with any vocal coach that has had some kind of professional training with benchmarks, certifications of some kind and levels of proficiency that must be met. When you get into people who have started teaching lessons based on nothing more than the fact that they’re a naturally good singer, that’s when you run the risk of possibly doing some harm to your voice.
All that said, I do believe there some very distinct benefits you get from studying with a vocal coach who specializes in your particular style or genre of music. A genre-specific vocal coach;
1. Knows The Music
A vocal coach who specializes in your style of music will know most of the artists and popular songs of that genre. That’s a big help when you’re working on specific songs because the coach may have the song, know how to play it, or simply be familiar enough with the song that he understands better what your challenges are or what you’re trying to accomplish
2. Knows The Lingo
Every genre of music kinda comes with it’s own language. This goes beyond common terms like the verse, the chorus, etc. It’s the kind of language that centers around the very culture of a genre of music. Once I was taking a vocal lesson with a vocal coach who specialized in theater, for example. I was working on Hezekiah Walker’s “Grateful”. Of course, the tough part was the last modulation (moda-what?) that happens in the vamp (the what now?)…you know, the press (hunh?).
But when it really dawned on me how different it can be working with someone not familiar with the kind of music you sing is when he got frustrated with the fact that the song was so high for a tenor. “Good God, why don’t you just change the key?” Again, a logical and fair question, but one you don’t have to ask if you know the culture of Gospel music.
3. Knows The Lifestyle
Every genre of music has a lifestyle. The people who dedicate their lives to it grew up listening to it. It shaped everything from the way they talk to their style of dress. Again, that’s something that has little to do with good technique. Bot often it’s the intangibles like those that make one vocal coach a better fit simply because he understands it better and can thereby relate better. Another example of that comes to mind with the same vocal coach I mentioned earlier. I had the privilege of watching him work with a few students that day. They were all little girls or young teen-age girls coming in with their moms. He specialized in theater so they were all doing these show tunes and talking about all the various venues and audition processes, other professionals in the industry, etc. Then she pulled out her sheet music for the song she wanted to sing. He took a quick glance over it and started to play it on-site. Again, we teach the same vocal technique! But she would have gotten so much less from me than she did him, simply because I just couldn’t relate to the culture, nor did I know the music or the artists.
Funny story, I sang a song for my vocal coach the first time I met him. I think it was Amazing Grace. Now, I thought I was singing it pretty straight-forward and rather non-descript. But when I finished he said “wow, you should really think about doing style coaching!” We went on to say how sooo many of his students who sing pop have great voices but lack any “soul”. And he couldn’t teach it to them. Just like I couldn’t teach them the in’s and outs of theater that must accompany the technique.
That’s really the whole premise behind my new vocal training course Vocal Ministry Breakthrough. As I said to one student just the other day, I really didn’t just want to do a typical vocal training course and slap a Christian title on it. I wanted it to be something that speaks to the whole person. That’s really what the name is all about, as is the name of my company. I’m not just trying to take your voice to another level. I’m trying to take your MINISTRY to another level. And that’s the special difference you’ll find in this home study course that you won’t find in any other one. The same is true when you study live with me, as many of my former students will attest.
So in summary, you can likely get good results studying with most any trained professional. But studying with someone who specializes in your genre or style of music gives you those little extras you can’t get anywhere else. So study with someone who “gets you”, and you’ll be rewarded with much more than just some good technique.
Image courtesy of “Danilo Rizzuti FreeDigitalPhotos.net