Singing teacher? That’s money for old rope, right?

People often ask if it’s necessary to train as a singing teacher. The answer, strictly speaking and in the legal sense, is “no it isn’t”. 

Unfortunately this means that anyone can set themselves up as a singing teacher. And “anyone” often does. People seem to have the strange idea that if they’ve done a performing arts course on which they had some singing training, this means that they can effectively teach singing. Or if they’ve got a music degree and majored in saxophone, they can teach singing – it’s all music, right? Or perhaps they have been singing themselves for many years, so this automatically means that they can teach others to do the same. 

We think they’re all quite mistaken.

The sad fact of the matter is, many so-called singing teachers are working with no training or qualification whatsoever, and although most of them do it with the best of intentions, it doesn’t mean that they’re teaching efficiently! Here’s an example of how much impact this can have:

One of our senior tutors had a new student come to her for a consultation the other day. The student was female, in her 40s, and had been singing she she was a small child, and had singing lessons since her mid-teens. She had come to the studio because she was experiencing severe fatigue in the voice. This is itself is not unusual – we all get students with this problem. What was unusual was that this problem had always been there, and not once in over 25 years of training with different teachers had anyone even started to address the issue. 

A well-trained singing teacher does a lot more than just listen to people sing songs and coach them in performance. (Actually, that’s the definition of a vocal coach, not a singing teacher). A good singing teacher can listen to a voice, hear where the problems are, work out why they’re happening and then help the student to fix the issues with a programme of efficient exercises. Sadly, there’s no real way for singing students to know which teachers know their stuff and which don’t, and that’s really why VIDLA exists – we’re trying to provide programmes of training which ensure that teachers not only know how to sing, but how to teach – which is a very different skill – and how to listen to and understand what is happening in a voice. We don’t claim to be perfect, but we do know that even people who come to us with Master’s degrees and years of teaching and performing experience get wide-eyed when they start their training! 

Oh, the student with the stamina problem? She was over-breathing. And that could have and should have been noticed and dealt with 25 years ago…Image

2 thoughts on “Singing teacher? That’s money for old rope, right?

  1. To become a voice teacher you have to have experience singing. You also have to understand laryngeal physiology to an extent, vocal modes, vowels and their application to singing and you must be able to discuss, understand and teach acoustic formant tunings.

    Add to that, charisma, a talent for communicating the abstract and a genuine heart to help others.

    There are far, far too many bad teachers, well in fact, they really are not real teachers of voice technique. As this article points out, there are many under qualified people teaching voice technique. The sad truth is, most voice teachers are under qualified and not really helping their students much at all. Hate to sound cynical, but that is the truth in the industry.

    Great voice technique teachers read books, do research, usually do if full-time, have some kind of formal music education, typically publish articles and books, produce instructional content and can back up their claims with results.

  2. This article is exactly why I took the VIDLA course to begin with! I’ve been a professional singer since I was 11 years old, and everyone told me that my experience alone qualifies me to teach. In my way of thinking? Not so much… If I’m going to “teach” I needed the tools – which only come through study. My first goal in teaching is to do no harm. Great article!

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