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What does a Vocal Coach do?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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A vocal coach is a music professional who provides training to singers who want to improve their singing and care for their voices so they can enjoy a lifetime of performance. Vocal coaching is heavily used by professional musicians, who tend to work with a vocal coach for life, and amateur singers and enthusiasts can also benefit from sessions. Vocal coaches may be singers themselves, and they can also be graduates of schools of music. Some have also attended educational programs for voice training and may be members of professional organizations interested in maintaining high standards for vocal instruction.

When someone initially meets with a vocal coach, the coach usually asks the person a sing to get an idea of the singer's range and musical interests. The coach pays close attention to the singer's form, looking for the singer's potential and identifying areas where the singer needs to improve. This information is used to develop a plan for working with the singer to expand the vocal range, improve the quality of the voice, and develop skills applicable to specific musical styles such as singing opera.

Frequency of meetings with a vocal coach vary, and singers are also expected to exercise at home, using homework provided by the coach. Vocal coaches, in addition to teaching people how to sing better, also provide instruction in caring for the voice. If a student experiences a medical problem involving the voice, like laryngitis, the vocal coach can work with a doctor to advise the singer through treatment and recovery, using gentle exercises to rebuild the voice without risking further injury.

Singers preparing for specific performances commonly work closely with a vocal coach as they are getting ready. The coach can help the singer select a repertoire and work with the singer through rehearsals to keep the voice strong, crisp, and clear. Vocal coaches may also identify singing opportunities for their students and help them get ready, and can assist people with preparation for singing auditions.

Many vocal coaches work independently, although some may be employed by choruses and other musical organizations to train their singers. The work can involve travel, as some coaches travel to the homes or studios of their clients and travel with singers as they perform. Pay varies, depending on level of skill and the types of singers the coach works with; someone providing voice lessons to children, for example, will receive a lower pay rate than a vocal coach who works with world-renowned musicians.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon977342 — On Nov 10, 2014

With all of this autotuning nonsense going on these days, I'm surprised anyone bothers hiring a real vocal coach anymore. I saw a video where a girl with an average voice got turned into a pop princess just by manipulating her vocals in the studio. As long as she could sing a note fairly close to the one she was supposed to sing, the producers could add all sorts of effects and overdubs and background vocals to make her sound like Miley Cyrus or Taylor Swift.

By anon977340 — On Nov 10, 2014

I've heard that a lot of big rock singers have vocal coaches who teach them how to sound intense without actually hurting themselves. Power singers like Roger Daltrey and Axl Rose have learned to use a kind of falsetto that makes them sound like they're screaming at the top of their lungs, but they're really not. If someone had to go out every night and sing a song like "Paradise City" or "Won't Get Fooled Again", they'd probably last two shows without proper vocal training.

By elizabeth23 — On Nov 02, 2011

@aaaCookie- I think that is true. Voice teachers can do a lot, but you can't just learn to sing from them if you don't have much emotion or natural talent. It really is more complex than that.

By aaaCookie — On Nov 02, 2011

I had a few friends in high school who took private singing lessons. What bothered me about this was that one friend really had almost no natural singing ability, but she took lessons and seemed to think that made her a good singer. I just think it's more complicated than that.

By sherlock87 — On Nov 01, 2011

@widget2010- It sounds like you had some good singing lessons. I had vocal lessons with one teacher who seemed more interested in showing me her own talents than in helping me to improve my own. That's the problem with at least some, I think, that many vocal teachers are former performers who are no longer having great success, so they become teachers. I'm glad that isn't always the case, though.

By widget2010 — On Nov 01, 2011

I had a series of vocal coaches for several years in high school and college. The most important thing the coaches I had did was help me to utilize the range I already had to make the most of it. I learned a lot about things like warming up and practicing that choirs just don't have time to spend with each person individually the way a vocal teacher does.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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