You Don’t Need A Therapist If You Have A Voice Coach (Or…. The Top 5 Things You Should Expect From Your Voice Teacher)

“There’s not a lot one can teach me at this point,” said the acclaimed musical theatre singer standing in a group of theatre professionals, when asked with whom he was currently studying.

It would have been very easy to go into all the benefits of a voice coach – even if you are already very learned in the ways of the voice – but right then it was best to leave it alone. That statement wasn’t about his voice as much as it was about his ego. And it was sad.

A stellar voice coach is more than just someone you sing scales with. A voice instructor isn’t necessarily about “teaching” you new tricks, as much as they are about helping you create and maintain a better you. The special person you deem worthy of being your advisor should be someone who you not only trust with your instrument, but also whose advice and wisdom you hold in high esteem.

So that begs the question: What are you getting for your money? Whether you are currently studying with someone or looking around for your Yoda, you should carry the following list in your pocket as you shop. Here are the top 5 things you should expect, or, more appropriately, DEMAND from your voice coach:

5. You should expect their Rolodex.

Your voice coach should have connections to Ears/Nose/Throat specialists, accompanists (even if they play themselves), therapists, websites, etc. They should be trendsetters, mavens, and know others who are also leaders in their field. And their repertoire and vocal health knowledge should be vast. VAST!

4. You should demand their loyalty to your talent.

If you walk into an audition and others are there who share your teacher, you all should not have the same audition piece, or even the same book of pieces.

And here’s another thing – as you use their expertise, they should not be expecting a return on their investment. Though it’s fantastic to dance with the one you came with, and even perhaps thank your voice coach in your bio and Tony speech, know they aren’t hurt if you don’t do it. However, if they are, get out fast. Ego alert!

3. You should expect their intuition and expertise.

Your coach should know your voice better than you do! A well-trained expert can hear in your voice if you are getting sick, stressed out, going back to the gym, or even if you’re pregnant. They should always be surprising you with the tricks up their sleeve and their deep and astute observations they make on your growth and talent. Vocal coaches are the dolphins of the voice ocean. If you are finally deciding to go see an ENT, your voice coach should be mad you haven’t done it by now. And if your teacher didn’t suggest it months before, then start looking elsewhere. If you end up diagnosed with something, you want the doc to ask, “Wow. How did you find this?” so that you can answer, “My voice teacher found it.” If you end up being told “There’s a lot of damage, and you should have seen this coming,” you never want to have to say “yes” when they ask, “Don’t you have a voice coach??”

2. You should expect their secrecy.

Your teacher’s voice studio should be like Vegas. What happens in there, stays in there. You need a place where it’s safe to fail, to celebrate mistakes, to experiment, and to explore. This should be a no-judgment zone. And if, like in #4, you are indeed pregnant, you can trust they will keep it to themselves.

And the most important thing you should demand of your voice coach…

1. You should DEMAND that they DEMAND the best out of YOU!

Your voice coach should challenge you, push you, and yes, sometimes even make you cry. It’s in their studio that you decide to audition for roles others told you you’d never play while at the same time verbalizing just how petrified you are to do it. You should give them permission to say things to you like, “Don’t wear aqua to your audition. It washes you out,” and “Remember what happened last time you dated (that person)? Sure you want to do that again?” They aren’t your mom, or your best friend, but you’ve entrusted them with your voice. And that’s personal.

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