May 8, 2024

Ep #17: Vocal Coach vs Voice Teacher vs Performance Coach: Which Do You Need?

Do you need a vocal coach, a voice teacher, or a performance coach? What’s the difference between these three things? And how do you make sure you find the right one for you, especially when you’re just starting out or you’re trying earnestly to reach the next level as a performer?

The coolest thing about our industry is the amount of help that is now accessible that wasn’t an option until just a few years ago. You have access to amazing vocal coaches, voice teachers, and performance coaches, and they can help take your career to the next level. So, is it time you got a little extra help in your creative career?

Tune in this week to discover the differences between the different types of coaches and teachers that specializing in helping performers. You’ll learn how to identify the exact kind of coach you need, finding the coach to help you walk the path you’ve chosen as a performer.

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What You will discover:

  • The unprecedented access we have to top-tier coaches and trainers.
  • Why it’s vital that you select the right coach or trainer for you and your needs.
  • How to choose the right category of coach or trainer.
  • The role of a performance coach in helping you become a better performer.
  • How to decide on the coach that’s going to help advance you along the path you want to take as a performer.

Listen to the full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:


Welcome to The Confident Performer, the only podcast that guides ambitious, driven performers and entrepreneurs to show up authentically and confidently both on and off stage. If you are ready to make an impact in your life and community and start living your most amazing, empowered life, you are in the right place. You already have what it takes to make it, you just need to see it. And I’m here to show you how. You ready? Let’s go.

Well, hello, my confident performers and welcome to episode 17 of The Confident Performer. I am talking today about vocal coach, voice teacher, performance coach. What are you looking for? What’s the difference between all of them? And can you make sure that you find the right one for you, especially when you’re new and you’re just starting out or you are trying to get someone to really help you level up?

The coolest thing about the industry right now in my opinion, is that after 2020 we really actively have learned that so many more things are accessible to us by way of the internet/ And that, to me, is absolutely amazing. With social media so many more people are very present and accessible to us that would not be previously the case if you don’t live near LA, if you don’t live near New York, if you don’t live in London, if you don’t live in Boston. That finding those top tier coaches and mind you, top tier coaches live all over the country.

And with this internet medium that we have now, we have access to training with some of the best, literally in the entire world. And it’s one of those things that specializing in specific things that enhance your training and quality of life, you will be glad you selected the right one. So I’m going to break down some of these. I actually referred to the internet for a few articles to do it really quickly.

And I actually want to go to Backstage, Badiene Magaziner is a teacher at Juilliard. And she, I feel really, really broke down the best foundations of what you can do, who you can seek, who are your best choices. So let’s see. One of the things I want to start with is voice teacher versus vocal coach. In this article she referenced a voice teacher is usually a singer who focuses on proper vocal technique and how to apply that technique to the repertoire.

Now, when you are a singer and you think to yourself, hey, I can just start coaching people. If you have a great understanding of your instrument and you can actively manipulate and you can hear where you resonate, where you phonate, you can coach and guide through and assist people through their vocal instrument. I think that is a really cool, fun way to begin to monetize something that you didn’t even necessarily think about until you realized, well, I really love the aspect of knowing the voice and sharing that information and passing that on to others.

So I’m going to reference what a vocal coach is. A vocal coach is a music teacher, typically a pianist, who assists singers in preparing for performances by helping them improve their singing techniques and choosing songs that are right for their age, type and technical abilities. I run into this often where you will see kiddos singing these big songs and they’re working with a vocal coach that doesn’t necessarily know the foundations of what they should be doing with that sound within the voice and they’ll start singing these songs that are just way too big.

And oftentimes for me, as a voice teacher and a performance coach, what I will do is say, “Okay, I want you to not sing that ginormous song, that song that’s far bigger than you.” And it’s a dead giveaway. So it’s more for me when I’m explaining to them, “I don’t want you to go up there and not even be able to go or grow into the song. And it’s very apparent that that song is way too big for you.” I also don’t ever really encourage six year olds singing, like Rolling in the Deep. We could have had it all Rolling in the Deep, You Had my Heart Inside your Hands. Maybe not, just maybe not. I mean, you can, don’t get me wrong, some people think it’s adorable. I’m not one of those people.

So I do want to go back into what the difference is when you break down now coming into a performance coach. So you can have a performance coach as well. One of the reasons I ended up changing and kind of reformulating how I actually was coaching and how I was teaching and what I began to do in my career versus where I am now. Is that evolution of what mindset is in the game when we are performing at a high level in the industry or aspiring to perform at a high level in the industry.

And when you break that down, mindset is probably, in my opinion, the most important if you are going to do this long term and professionally. One for the athleticism of it that I referenced last week, but two, for the many things that you actively endure in all of the noise that sometimes is far greater than you expect to deal with. Now, when hiring a performance coach, it is imperative that the majority of the time you find someone that is designated for that career path or trajectory.

And a lot of times it’s people who are in the industry. When you have a high performance coach that is a retired pitcher and he has a few world series under his belt and he has 25 years playing ball and then obviously his time from when he started when he was four years old into his active career. When you look at a performance coach, that’s the mindset stuff that I want each one of our artists and each one of our top confident performers to actively pursue. That you look at somebody who is not just talking about the game, but who’s played the game.

And the amount of information that comes by experiential moments is, in my opinion, priceless. My man and I were talking and I said, “Hey, what’s one of our next episodes going to be?” And that was actually kind of one of the things that we wanted to talk about is going in education, experience. What is the value of, not only for the individual but how they choose to show up and how they end up showing up. Sometimes learning how to do a thing makes it easy to talk about the thing. And it makes it much easier to actually do the thing and talk about the thing if you’ve experienced the thing or consistently experienced the thing.

And that’s why actually I started this podcast, because I wanted to talk more about the things that people don’t know what they don’t know. And if you are the best bedroom singer in the whole wide world, if you do a few TikToks a day and you have a really great following and you really want to go into doing what’s next. It is finding that voice teacher, finding that vocal coach, finding that performance coach, finding that life coach sometimes even before you find all those other coaches.

And then obviously there’s that kind of separation, that divides where we go into the mental health component and you have that psychology and that psychiatry and you have that therapy. But those are all very much for a different episode. So we’re going to stay on course here. So when you hire that performance coach, it’s really important that that performance coach knows the lane of performance that you are training in very well. And I say this often to people who come to train with me. I’m not a coach that is a regular vocal coach around town. I’m not anyone’s competition around town.

It’s one of those things that we’re very, very different in our world, our life view and things that we’ve experienced. And I have a lot of people that I would absolutely put my own daughter with here in our community just because I love their style and I love the artists that they are able to really influence, inspire, grow and really kind of train into that next level performer. So when you’re looking for the ideal performance coach, you also want someone who is a really great communicator, someone who can actively communicate information.

And if you know, I’m not in the middle of actually grasping the concept very well, that they’re able to say, “Okay, let’s try this. Imagine this and then change the aspect.” So when we’re in the classroom, it’s the same thing. If we’re not understanding something, sometimes we just need a different explanation. We just need a different association with the information that’s coming our way. And then we begin to grasp the concept in a very different way than potentially somebody else can easily grasp. No problem. That’s no problem.

Every single one of my students is different. That’s why I create a custom curriculum for every single one. I don’t have a set module that I use. I’m not, well, you’re at level one and you’re at level two and congratulations, level four, you are here. It is important that each one of us, when we are trying to find the difference in our life coaching, in our performance coaching, we’re finding that voice teacher, we’re finding that vocal coach, what are we actually looking for.

So in a voice teacher you are looking for someone who is really familiar with vocal health. The voice teacher who teaches a faulty technique can actually ruin a voice. And like I said, this is Badiene’s information, but it is one of those things where I absolutely agree. And I see again, so often when you sing songs that are too big for you and your muscles are growing and shaping and melding and all that now. I will never encourage pushing in a way that is a crazy high belt or that is a consistent, I call it little belt. It’s just not ideal. It’s not ideal for the young performer, the artist and training.

And it’s definitely not ideal for the audience. The sweet little angels like me sitting in the audience and then having to be subjected to the sound. So this aspect of finding that voice teacher that really makes a difference is understanding top to bottom, do you need more chest voice? Does this need more head voice and how to achieve it? Is the voice nasal, how do you correct it? Does the voice need more volume? How do I build it? How do I extend my range? How do I get a legato or smooth line?

How do I make sure my vocal registers are seamlessly blended from chest voice to head voice and back, making the voice even from top to bottom without a break? Now, that is my foundation of a proper voice teacher. And I say that because that one voice sound is the goal. There are so many styles right now that are out there that are very appealing and very interesting. Some people on American Idol right now are really interesting singers. But that longevity in your actual instrument, that focus has to be first and foremost on the vocal health. So that you can maintain that consistency and great capacity or capacity for greatness for the long term.

Now, when we go into this vocal coach mode, the vocal coach, one of my favorites in the industry is Carol Tingle. And she helped me kind of rehab after my injury and just, she was an awesome, awesome gal. I also love now, and he’s doing this more, I think, even commercially kind of marketing a bit more commercially is Michael Orland. And he was on Idol with us, and he is just such a funny person and so dynamic and fun and engaging. And also really just inspiring and encouraging pretty much all the time and that’s always fun to be around.

God rest her soul we just had Deborah Byrd, who was also on Idol with us and she just recently passed away. So she was a wonderful coach as well. She was incredibly talented, always so vibrant. Her bright big, beautiful eyes would always kind of give you that inspired look. And if you were doing it, her eyes would just brighten up, her face would brighten up and it was always really fun training with her as well. So those are in that area of top three that for me for vocal coaches, I look at those as some of my top three that I’ve worked with.

And also a guy I worked with, a few shows, Phil Edwards also amazing, and he was a musical director on Joseph that I worked on and just a really super cool, awesome, warming, amazing presence as well. So going into that where the vocal coach kind of focus is, it’s that diction or the phrasing, oftentimes they help you create these perfect cuts for your audition. So if you have a 16 bar, you have a 32 bar cut, you have, when people are doing pageants and stuff and they have that 92nd cut, the vocal coach, a proper vocal coach will really help you do those cuts.

As a voice teacher and as a performance coach, I have helped students do that. And again, like I said, that information sometimes becomes blurred lines when we’re able to do the thing, but I don’t like doing the thing all the time. So for example, when my studio was larger and I had multiple coaches training with me, I would actually utilize someone to come in and teach a lot of the things that I don’t like teaching and I don’t like to focus on. So I’d have someone come in and teach theory because they taught it better than I did.

And I love acknowledging those moments where, hey, this is not my favorite thing to teach, it’s not even my favorite thing to focus on and research and so I don’t. And so learning the foundations is one thing, but then having somebody that’s truly passionate about it is another thing. And that is who I would have come to my studio and train my artists as well. So they would get the skill set, but from somebody who truly, passionately loved teaching that skill set.

So as she explains in this article as well, there are areas that overlap in terms of the voice teacher, vocal coach. So as I was explaining those, when those lines are blurred you can decide, hey, that vocal coach will serve me greatly for a lot of your formative years in preparing things especially for the auditions that you have going on.

And I really think foundationally my preference and recommendation is to start first and foremost with a voice teacher who knows how to help you create sound, who knows how to focus on proper techniques so that you do not ruin your voice before you even have the opportunity to have a career. And you are able to condition the overall training expectation that you are going to build into something great. That your focus on your career is going to be foundationally based upon a solid technique. And you can always refer back to how to use your instrument properly.

You’re always going to know, oh, man, I should not have eaten that spaghetti right before I sing. I should not have had my wine and my chocolate right before bed. And I’m only completely sharing that as a complete projection because that is something I absolutely did. And I would do that on the road and it was absolutely not ideal and even potentially sometimes detrimental obviously. So I share that information to make sure that each artist is thinking about those things. If I recommend anything first, I’m going to recommend that you have your mind right, first and foremost.

You are going to be far better off with how you feel in life, how you feel, as the aspect of going into this career, so many people get lost in comparison. And I see it in artists all the time. I can see even some incredible artists I have in mind, I won’t say their names but they’re incredible. They are so, so insecure as an artist because they have no idea what a detriment comparing themselves to others in their growth process has actually been for them.

And even as a coach with my young ones, I never advocate for comparison externally. It is that acknowledgement of what is around you, acknowledgement of those that are in your type, in your same age, those same people who will be at your auditions, those same people will be going for the same roles that you want, acknowledge their existence, acknowledge their strengths. Be kind to them, celebrate them but focus on yourself, focus on you building yourself. And that is the most important information I can explain or tell you when you are getting any kind of coach.

If you want a vocal coach, if you want a voice teacher, if you want a performance coach, if you want a life coach, if you need a therapist. I always explain very early on, there are certain people, I cannot train those who are not coachable and those who need therapy before they need coaching. So keep aware of your growth, be aware of your space. There’s no shame to, wherever you are in the game, so just honor yourself, honor your journey and find the coach that’s right for you.

I promise you, if you Google, voice teacher, voice coach, performance coach, you will get some of the best names out there in the industry. I referenced a few today. One of my most favorite ones actually I have worked with very briefly in my career is Kate Geisler. And I feel like she has a great understanding of the overall vocal instrument that I think is truly incredible and translates and is very transferable. So that’s my final, final on that. But take care, my beautiful people, and please be well.

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