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3 Qualities Singer-Songwriters Look for in a Vocal Coach

Man smiling and in conversation with someone off-camera

We salute your journey and want you to do it big, do it well and do it with a healthy, happy voice –says Jaime Babbitt.

What I’m about to write is quite probably true for all singers, but this is aimed especially at singer/songwriters as they have several defining concerns.

In this musical climate, many singer-songwriters are called on more than ever to be their own EVERYTHING: booking agent, business manager, chauffer, graphic designer…it’s enough to boggle the mind!

Alas, only the strongest survive. And, on top of that, you have to become your own advocate for what makes you feel and sound great.

That’s where we vocal coaches who specialize in working with YOU come in. And, here’s what we do well:

 1. We listen to you without judgement

Show of hands: how many of you have had voice teachers tell you what you could and could not do? (No dairy! No drinking! No smoking! Blah blah blah!)

Hey, my hand’s up, too. Well, guess what? I, and my like-minded colleagues, know that once you’re an adult, you get to make decisions for yourself.

I’ve never told an adult student they SHOULDN’T do anything; I tend to point out what can happen in Nashville if you eat too much dairy (mucus, blech), or how drinking can dry you out (because science; alcohol is an astringent).

Still, I hear you when you talk about your quality of life, the things that bring you joy, the things that relax you. I’m here to help you weigh the positives and negatives and bring you to good decisions for yourself…kapish?

2. We won’t equivocate or lie to you

We DON’T judge, but if something you’re doing isn’t working or if you’re headed down a path that doesn’t make you shine, we are not going to shine you on, get it?

Too many vocal coaches let too much stuff go for varying reasons: keeping a full client roster, saying “yes” is easier than figuring out what’s wrong, wanting to spare peoples’ feelings.

Woman looking in a hand mirror

Now, I’m not saying every teacher does this, but singer/songwriters: are you getting zero pushback from your vocal coach? Is everything always “just great”? I’ve encountered this myself and I, for one, do NOT appreciate it….nor do I buy it.

There’s always room for constructive criticism presented lovingly, in the spirit of advancement. Make sure your coach feels the same.

Let’s face it; everyone’s level of talent is different and sometimes, some students aren’t going to be the next Ed Sheeran no matter how they try, which leads me to my final point:

3. We help you be the best ‘you’ you can be

We love your uniqueness, your je ne sais quois. We don’t want you to sound like every other singer. We don’t even know how to make all our clients sound alike.

We salute your journey and want you to do it big, do it well and do it with a healthy, happy voice. For some of you, big means touring, hit songs and lots of cash and notoriety.

For others, it means feeling comfortable enough* in your own skin to put a pen to paper and express what your heart feels…and maybe even perform in a small venue, at a writer’s round, or at an assisted living facility.

*Notice I said “enough”; some artists will never be totally comfortable and that’s okay, too—we can work with that!

I’ve worked with educators, medical personnel, kids, machinists, professional musicians and singers and more, and the common denominator is the desire to connect.

That’s where we vocal coaches step up and say, “I see you. I hear you. I understand where you’re going and can help you get there. Will you trust me?” If you say yes and we fit well, we can make some beautiful music.

Find out more about Jaime Babbitt at www.workingwithyourvoice.com for bookings, see www.greenhillsguitarstudio.com/voice-lessons You can see more of Jaime’s articles here.