A singing tutor, or vocal coach, is a type of instructor who helps individuals develop singing skills. Typically, the tutor has substantial experience as a singer as well as degrees in music, acting, oration, or other related fields. Both professional singers, students, and individuals pursuing singing lessons for personal enrichment can benefit from the guidance of a vocal coach.
A typical lesson with a singing tutor involves vocal exercises, introduction of new repertoire, and feedback on performance. Vocal exercises are used to develop range, pronunciation, proper breathing technique, and better overall sound quality. Common exercises are buzzing with the lips, singing scales and arpeggios, and saying and singing tongue twisters. There are literally thousands of vocal exercises, and a good tutor will use a variety of different types.
Introduction of new repertoire is an important part of the singing lesson. A singing tutor is not only an expert on the technical application of singing, but also on how to use those techniques to create beautiful music. Many times, the tutor chooses song based on the demands of the piece and the skill of the student. It also gives the tutor a chance to show students new or different music than they may have experienced before.
The feedback from a vocal coach on performance gives the student a chance to understand strengths and to identify what could be improved. A good vocal coach will give constructive feedback, not derogatory or humiliating responses. Even a good tutor can ruin a lesson if he or she is deliberately insensitive to the student.
Often, high school and college students are the main clients of a singing tutor. These students may be seeking a degree in vocal performance that requires a specific number of credit hours of private instructor or admission into a music school. There are also other performance degrees in music and acting which also require private voice lessons.
In some cases, an individual takes lessons from a singing tutor simply for their own personal development. A poor singing voice can be a cause for frustration and embarrassment for an individual, and a singing tutor can help. Still others take lessons in order to sing for a special occasion, like to a spouse during an anniversary party.
Most Broadway companies employee a singing tutor to guide the actors and actresses who perform on stage. In many cases, actors and actresses need further development to properly perform certain roles when there are significant singing parts. Likewise, professional singers sometimes use an acting coach when given a part in a play.