At a certain point in my vocal coaching career I started getting some answers. I wasn’t shooting in the dark anymore with analogies, metaphors and demos “sing like this please..”. These seemed to get results but the problem was I wasn’t quite sure why. I knew I had a good ear and I could spot when a singer was being more effortful than necessary but ask me to explain concisely why – I couldn’t.
So I started doing some poking around online. At the time, around 2012, YouTube seemed to only offer some good and bad surface-level information for singers (things are different now) but I couldn’t find what I was looking for as a coach. It wasn’t until I started working with people such as Kim Chandler, until I found The Naked Vocalist podcast, until we had the lovely Ian Davidson over to teach Line Hilton’s Be A Singing Teacher course at my school Voiceworks Studio every June, until I joined Vocology in Practice and travelled to San Francisco to attend my first voice conference that I realised there were answers and they could be found in the voice science and research community. I started to understand there was sooo much for me to understand.
Over the past 8 years (oh my god where did the years go?!) I’ve been trying to get my head around acoustic science, physiology, the pros and cons of the different teaching models, the psychology of learning and coaching… I could go on, but I’m noticing as I grow in confidence with my knowledge and ability to help a student I can say things in fewer words and words with fewer syllables too! I can resist saying the names of muscles and mentioning acoustic phenomenons and actually come right back to terms people are comfortable with like head voice or even avoid terms altogether.
And I’m right back to the metaphors and analogies again but this time they’re mine, they’re rooted in legitimate knowledge on how the voice works and are in response to how I think the student learns best.
Times are different now. There was no such thing as a contemporary music degree in my day, there weren’t high-quality coaches on YouTube to learn from like John Henny or Facebook groups where all the heavy hitters in the voice science community interact like Voice Geeks, or there were no FREE amazing articles and videos on websites such as www.voicescienceworks.org. Not to mention all the online and in-person training courses offered by Debbie Winters or Chris Johnson. Ye’r all spoilt!
For aspiring coaches my advice is, soak it all up, have fun learning, stay curious and humble and know there’s always so much more to know but jump in, start helping beginners and let the knowledge filter into your emerging style of teaching. Please be discerning! One person or one methodology does not have all the answers you need and be willing to change your standpoint when you learn something new that replaces a previously held belief. Don’t you know we’re talking ’bout an evolution!