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Won’t a Voice Teacher or Coach Mess Up My Sound?

Hey Jaime,

To be honest, the main reason I’ve stayed away from voice teachers is that I’m pleased with my sound and I just don’t want to conform to someone else’s “mold” for my voice!


Hi Al, let’s start with some vocabulary:

Voice Teacher: Someone with whom you learn how to sing, breathe and who teaches techniques, warm-ups, etc.

Vocal Coach: Someone who concentrates on repertoire and stylization, get you ready for auditions, recording projects, etc. (Note: the terms can be interchangeable.)

My first voice teacher, a classically-trained professor assigned during freshman year of college, said I was destroying my voice and would never amount to anything if I didn’t stop singing rock and roll.

I was 17, gigging 4-5 nights a week and didn’t know how to handle this. Actually, I did handle it: I quit college (but went back later!) and…wait for it: found a series of voice teachers who were perfect for ME.

Some singers I’ve coached (or didn’t, since they chose not to study) said they didn’t want anyone to take anything away from their own distinctive sound.

I completely agree with this concept, but a voice teacher who’s right for you will never do anything but help you enhance your native talent…and help you strengthen all those lovely muscles that help you sing.

Please trust your intuition: in the same way that I knew an opera teacher wasn’t going to tame my rock-and-roll soul, if you’re unhappy with a teacher/coach, re-evaluate your choice and find someone more compatible!

As for not studying at all: sorry, I can’t give you that, not if you’re serious about a singing career.

I’m scanning my brain now for any professional singer friends who haven’t studied and I can’t even think of one. Yes, there are amazing singers that haven’t studied: James Taylor, Bruno Mars (according to his mom)…. but I’ll bet you they practiced. And sang. A WHOLE LOT!

In my opinion, you need a warm-up, some guidance…and someone to whom you can be accountable, as in showing up with your work done! Here are some tips for you:

  • Go teacher/coach shopping!
  • Don’t pick a teacher because your friend loves them—you’re not your friend!
  • Great teachers aren’t always great singers!
  • The most expensive teacher isn’t necessarily the best!
  • Try finding someone in your area before choosing someone long-distance!
  • Make sure you have the cash to get started—and schedule weekly lessons!

Work hard. Invest the time. This is your life we’re talking about here!


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.

  • Diane

    I disagree with your distinction in titles – other than maybe a “teacher” being a music or chorus teacher in a school or at a church – but all these people are training your voice for a specific style to begin with, which you knew when you joined chorus/church choir. Those are their specialties and their focus, they are going to change you to fit that “sound”- why would you expect anything else? But on a professional level I think any good vocal “Coach” (since this is what they label themselves as overall training professionals – NOT just to get ready for an event) will work to help you find yourself, your voice and strengthen that whether it be style or technique (breathing, muscle building, etc). If you’re paying someone and they aren’t doing that, then they aren’t just not good “for you” they aren’t good period.
    I’ve done the courses from Brett Manning, Seth Riggs, Per Bristow, Melissa Cross.. and a few other random ones – I hope to be starting the Jaime Vendera one soon. What I find make the best coach “for me” is the way they deliver the information – did I grasp it in a way that I can apply it? This is why I go through so many courses, granted I may be relearning the same stuff 90% of the time, but I like to hear different theories and explanations as to why and how things are done. It gives me a bigger picture and the more I understand the better and more confidence I get.