Voice teacher, vocal coach, what’s the difference?

Voice Teacher: A professional who works with singers to help them improve their vocal technique, including healthy bodily function, neural conditioning, and training for flexibility and endurance.

Vocal Coach: A professional who works with singers to help them to prepare repertoire for performance, including repertoire selection, style, interpretation, and diction.

Recently, I encountered this statement: “In my opinion, the ‘technician’ and ‘coach’ distinctions wouldn’t even exist in a perfect world.”

I disagree. I believe that the distinction between voice teacher (vocal technique) and coach (rep, style, musical issues) is useful. The purview of both is vast, and it is not limiting or narrow to emphasize one of these, because one can never learn all there is to be known. I think there is a great need for vocal technique teachers, vocal coaches, and people who are strong in both. I can think of some good voice teachers with weak piano skills, and some terrific pianists and music directors who know very little about vocal technique. Many fine voice teachers teaching privately do well with both.

When specialists come together, the result can be stronger than if everyone is a generalist. For singers assembling their “team”, knowing the skillset of potential teachers or coaches is important so that they can advance their own skills as effectively as possible.

If you enjoy this blog, consider grabbing a copy of Sane Singing: A Guide to Vocal Progress, available in print and ebook!

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