5 things to keep in mind when looking for your *online* singing teacher ...
Boris Johnson told the nation yesterday evening to stay at home, essentially placing the whole of the country on a lockdown. This has resulted in a number of self-employed musicians to be out of work, concerts have been cancelled and teaching/coaching has had to go online. Unfortunately, because they government have yet to provide any financial support to the self-employed it leaves many people desperate to find an alternative form of income and I have noticed a few singers who are now offering lessons online despite never having taught themselves. Although, I am sure many of these singers have plenty of experience and knowledge to share, it is important to remember that teaching is a skill in itself and difficult enough to do in person never mind online. So, in order to protect customers desperately looking for something to occupy their time during lockdown, I have put together these 5 things to keep in mind when searching for an online singing teacher.
1) Singing Teacher or Vocal Coach?
There is a difference between these two things and it is important you know which one you would like lessons from:
A singing teacher is someone who will work on vocal technique with you, they will have excellent scientific knowledge of how the voice works and will be able to give you exercises and challenges that help improve range, strength, tone production and breath control. If you are looking to improve your vocal ability, then this is the person you will want to book in with.
A vocal coach is someone who will work on the performing aspects of a song with you. They won’t have the same level of technical knowledge that a singing teacher does and will focus on interpretation of a song, dynamics, phrasing and text. If you are pretty happy with your vocal technique but want someone to help you bring a song to life, then a vocal coach is who you will want to book in with.
2) Has this person taught before?
As someone who has been teaching face-to-face singing lessons for over 12 years, it was a difficult transition to online teaching. There are limitations that you have to adapt to and it challenges you as a teacher in a whole new way. That being said, having successfully taught my first day of online teaching yesterday, I found that my experience as a teacher helped me adjust to this new format very quickly and all of my students were pleased with what I was offering them. I would argue that someone trying teaching for the first time online will have too many challenges to work through themselves to really be able to offer anything constructive to the student they are teaching.
3) Qualifications, Training, Experience
These three things should be listed on the website or social media page of the person you are considering taking up lessons with. Unfortunately, singing teaching isn’t regulated which means that anyone can set up as a teacher (and in these desperate times, many people are). Make sure you take time to read through the information they are offering you about themselves. Although, some very good teachers don’t have much to offer in the way of qualifications, there should be some evidence that they themselves have been through extensive voice training. This can include, a music degree, a vocal pedagogy degree, lots of little CPD workshops or simply stating who they have studied with and for how long. If they show no evidence of having actually had a singing lesson themselves then they are in no position to be able to teach you about your voice.
4) Book a consultation
A consultation lesson is very important when looking for a singing teacher. Don’t sign up to 10 lessons before you have trialled your first one. Firstly, you want to make sure that you have a good rapport with that person, finding a singing teacher you feel comfortable with is extremely important and sometimes they can be the best teacher in the world but you may not click. Secondly, you want to make sure they can practise what they preach. Use the lesson to see what they can offer you in terms of their knowledge base and their way of communicating. If you learn something and you are able to take something away from the lesson to work on that week, then that is a great sign. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in the lesson and push for detailed explanations of why they are asking you to do certain things. If they can’t give a good answer, it is probably because they aren’t working off the back of solid vocal knowledge.
You may be looking for lessons at the lowest cost, particularly during this time of uncertainty but I highly recommend you consider splashing out a bit more for good quality lessons. You get what you pay for in the singing teaching world and if someone is offering cheap lessons there is usually a reason behind it. Singing Lessons usually range between the £25-£40ph price margin. Anything below this is probably not going to be worth your time or money. Some teachers may be offering a small discount for online lessons, particularly at the moment but anyone worth their salt will still be charging within this margin. Look for the best value rather than the best rate. Good Luck and make sure you take your time when looking for a teacher, don’t be afraid to try a few out before making a final decision.
If you are interested in online lessons with Rebecca then you can get in touch by emailing RHVocalTuition@gmail.com