Vocal Coaching vs “Teachering”
Telling the Difference Between Studios 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 voice coach and a voice teacher?
Since I opened my voice teaching/coaching studio in NYC, 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 NYC voice coaches and studios throw around?
Voice Coaching is where you work on interpretation of the song. So like a vocal 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 voice teachers advertising themselves as vocal coaches. Especially in a competitive market like NYC, vocal coaching is a term you hear a lot. But most of the people advertising themselves as a coach or teacher are a little of both – 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 NYC and other large cities 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 getting the feeling into a song. Or for like jazz. People come to NYC 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 jazz vocal coaching from a non-jazz person, even in NYC. But a voice teacher, in contrast to a 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 voice teachering 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 voice teacher, and not a voice coach.
So am I a coach or a 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 – and as someone who appreciates an emotional but not contrived delivery – I can do vocal coaching in a variety of styles but my focus with beginners 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 NYC because that is a very specialized study. But for jazz and the popular genres (blues, pop, rock, cabaret, country, etc), I do a lot of voice coaching along 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 singing 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 because a lot of beginners don’t really understand the distinction between them, even in NYC. After you go deep into singing, people start to understand the difference, though. And most people advertising themselves as a voice coach or a voice teacher in NYC do understand the coach/teacher difference. But they have to say that as a way to communicate with entry level singers.
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