Vocal Coaching vs Teaching
Telling the Difference Between Studio You See in NYC
Set the scene…you’re in New York, NY finally and you need help with your voice! The question is what is the difference between a vocal coach and a teacher?
Since I opened my vocal teaching/coaching studio in New York, I’ve been asked this coach/teacher question a lot, so what is the difference between a coach and a teacher and what’s the deal with all the terms New York vocal coaches and studios throw around?
Vocal Coaching is where you work on interpretation of the song. So like a coach would not really tell you about vocal technique. But a vocal teacher (aka: voice teacher) totally would. A lot of times online you see people who are really vocal teachers advertising themselves as vocal coaches. Especially in a competitive market like New York, vocal coaching is a term you hear a lot. But most of the people advertising themselves as a vocal coach or a vocal teacher are a little of both. Most vocal coaches or Teachers are actually a mix between a vocal coach and a vocal teacher and so are most “vocal teachers”. How much of a mix really depends on the teacher/coach, but in NY there is a lot of overlap as far as specific coaching/teaching studios offerings.
For myself, I am mostly a vocal/voice teacher but I also coach style. An example of the type of coaching I do is vocal coaching for like jazz. People come to New York for jazz, and jazz has a very specific “groove” that you have to get if you want it to sound like jazz. And you usually can’t get this vocal coaching from a non-jazz person, even in New York. Another example of a vocal coach is like someone who specializes in helping opera singers interpret certain roles. Especially in New York where there are a million specialists, these operatic vocal coaches really don’t work on technique almost at all. But a vocal teacher, in contrast to a vocal coach, is really interested in keeping your voice safe from injury and getting it to sound the way you want it to sound without damaging it. An example of the type of non-vocal-coach teaching I do, for instance, is showing people how to get that big, fat sound up higher without hurting themselves. Breathing, for instance, would be the territory of a vocal teacher, and not a vocal coach.
So am I a vocal coach or a vocal teacher – that’s another thing I get asked. As someone who listens a lot to pop, rock, jazz (of course), blues, opera, country sometimes, etc. I can do vocal coaching in a variety of styles but my focus is on helping you sound good without hurting yourself. For deep-in opera people, they will want to go to another specific vocal coach here in New York because that is a very specialized study. But for jazz and the popular genres (blues, pop, rock, country, etc), I do a lot of vocal coaching with the singing technique. I consider myself deep into technique, though. Long-term singing for a lotta hours day after day eventually can cause you an injury if your technique isn’t up to snuff. And that is the main focus of non-vocal-coaching teaching – technique.
Well I hope this was helpful to you to learn about the differences and when you might need a vocal coach versus a voice teacher. As I’ve said, most people advertise themselves as both vocal coaches and vocal teachers because a lot of beginners don’t really understand the distinction between a vocal coach and a voice or singing teacher, even in NYC. After you go deep into singing, people start to understand the vocal coach/teacher difference. And most people advertising themselves as a vocal coach or a teacher do understand the coach/teacher difference. But they have to say that as a way to communicate with entry level singers.