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Three Mistakes Some Singing Teachers Make

Three Mistakes Some Singing Teachers Make
Gurus live on mountaintops and meditate all day. Voice teachers and vocal coaches are human -says Jaime Babbitt.

What do humans do besides eat huge amounts of dark chocolate? They MAKE MISTAKES… like eating too much dark chocolate.

But seriously, as voice teachers we have to bring our “A” game to every client. And just like we ask our students to be serious in order to improve, we need to walk the walk.

We all know different teachers’ methods, exercises, warm-ups, etc., can vary… and that’s okay.

We’re all snowflakes and there are plenty of vocalists and teachers / coaches / professors / choir directors to go around. But here are several universal singing teacher no-nos I feel need to be brought to light:

1. Not Being Proficient Enough On A Chordal Instrument

Piano keys

Professional voice coaches / teachers don’t need to be Ph.Ds. or concert-level pianists but they should know major / minor scales, triads and arpeggios well enough to play their students’ warm-up exercises. They need to know how to play piano or guitar well enough to read a chord chart to accompany clients and know how to speak music theory to some degree.

Should students sing A Capella all the time, or simply to a pitch sung by a teacher? No. You may say yes if we’re talking about lessons for toddlers and children, but teachers must still strive to play and sing well. Little humans’ ears are open and if good relationships to pitch and rhythm get instilled in them early on, the next John Coltrane or Mariah Carey might be right under our noses.

2. Not Really Listening To Their Students

An ear to signify listening

Of course one of a teacher’s main jobs is to LISTEN. I’ve heard stories from my own clients about how choir directors or music professors asked them to sing in a range that made their cords swollen. Here’s a problem: students don’t always speak up if they feel discomfort; they want to please, they want to do well by their teachers. So students: if you feel something, say something. Singing should not hurt. But teachers: you’re the adults here. Please don’t take your students’ willingness to sing in a too-high-or-too-low register as the end of the story.

Develop your skills so that you understand the physiology of the vocal tract, hone your intuition and then combine those two elements to hear vocal problems that may arise and zero in on how to solve them. Providing a safe, informative and caring atmosphere for students is quite possibly the most important thing you can ever do.

3. Not Keeping Up With Their Craft

Books to signify study

Not all voice teachers are professional singers – and they don’t have to be. However, teachers who understand their method and how to teach it, experience significant and consistent results with it, and still strive to keep an open and curious mind are ultimately the greatest teachers. So if they’re singers, maybe they’ll keep their chops up and do warm-ups, perform live, sing sessions, etc. They’ll study with a teacher themselves, go in for tune-ups when needed and KEEP IMPROVING.

If they’re not singers, perhaps they’ll ramp up their accompanist skills, look at other singing methods and the results they achieve and add to their own teaching repertoire. Every voice teacher believes their own method is the best, but keeping an open and curious mind could lead to teaching breakthroughs for the teacher and their students. And that’s teaching…like a boss!


Jaime Babbit bio

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.


  • al-andrew

    Great article !!! Totally agree

  • Freya Astrella

    I am totally feeling point 3. I have had many teachers who still teach from the strength of a book they read 20 years ago! Not cool!

  • Point number 3, should be point number one. Lets add to that…

    2. Related to #1, … placing blame on the students inability to execute on the student, when in fact the blame is squarely on the teacher and their lack of understanding of what is going on and any techniques to use to fix the issue. Stop making students feel responsible for their failures and challenges simply because of the coaches incompetence and/or arrogance that prevents them from pursuing #1.

    3. Failing to learn how to actually sing well and demonstrate their own workouts And lead by example, as well as gain more insights by actually doing what they are teaching others to do.

    These days, if you can’t step up and show that you can at least carry a tune and are not willing to publish it for the world to hear, then you are lacking in credibility.

  • Thank you so much!

  • Thanks, Freya! I totally agree!

  • Thanks; I totally hear you!