What Is The One Thing To Look For When Choosing A Singing Teacher? 


Choosing a singing teacher is one of your most important decisions.  The wrong choice can lead to wasted time and money, frustration and even vocal damage.

Finding the right singing teacher can bring you fast results, vocal joy and even a successful career.

There are many criteria people look at when choosing a singing teacher.  I will cover some of the main ones and give you my opinion of their relative worth in making your decision.


Singing Teacher – What Not To Base Your Decision On

The following criteria, while they can all be a plus, are not what should influence your final decision.

A Degree in Voice

As much as I respect higher education, there is something wrong with a number of our universities.  They are churning out singers underprepared for a career in music, especially popular music.

When these singers have trouble getting work they turn to teaching – something they have not been properly trained to do.

Many of these singing teachers have studied opera, which is a completely different vocal discipline from contemporary music. This leaves them especially ill-equipped to help modern singers.

A degree in voice has many positive aspects to it, including the fact that your singing teacher should have good musical skills, including the ability to play piano.  It is not however a compelling enough reason alone to choose someone.


They Sing Great

My first instrument was the drums, which I studied very seriously as a teenager.  I began lessons with someone who is considered one of the best drummers in the world and he was incredible.

I sat in awe watching him play with amazing skill and grace.  The problem was – he really didn’t know how to pass this information to me in a systematic way that made sense.

Cut to a year later when I found an older teacher who a friend recommended. His own career had been  long ago sidelined by stage fright and drug addiction (though he was now long sober). When he played he was rusty and couldn’t come close to what my previous teacher could play.

But when he taught – he was a genius.  After he had became sober he had poured his energy into developing a unique system for teaching drumming.  His own playing was of little consequence.

There are teachers out there who sing very well and they claim this is the only quality you should look for in a singing teacher.  I find this self-serving and frankly wrong.

I have taught many  teachers around the world and some of the best teachers are not necessarily great singers themselves.

A singing teacher needs to be able to analyze and prescribe for your voice, not theirs.  Although the ability to demonstrate with their voice is important, singing well is not the ultimate criteria for a singing teacher.


They Have Had A Music Career Themselves

This is a companion to the previous point.  Having had some professional success is helpful in that they can give you career advice, however it is still not the main thing to look for in a singing teacher.

Success in the music business to be admired in anyone – it is never easy, but it does not prepare someone for helping others to sing.


They Teach Celebrities

This is a tough one for me as working with celebrities is part of my studio’s reputation.  At the risk of shooting myself in the foot, this is not something you should make your main criteria.

In my experience, celebrity singing teachers are all good, but they are not all great.  Sometimes the ego boost of working with celebrity can cause the singing teacher to stop questioning and learning.

The power of celebrity can allow the singing teacher to ride on their own reputations.  They can charge huge fees and yet have holes in their skill sets and education.

Celebrities also study with a number of different teachers, so it’s hard to know who really had an impact on them.

There are those like my friend singing teacher Dave Stroud , who keep pushing themselves and their knowledge, while working with some of the biggest stars in the world – but I am afraid not everyone has this drive or self-awareness.

You might think a celebrity singing teacher can help you land a management or record deal – some teachers even entice students with these possibilities.  The fact is celebrity voice teachers are not considered to be high-level in the music industry, the way producers and label execs are.  Even if they do have those connections they are not ones they can use very often.  A celebrity voice teacher is not likely to get you a record deal.

Don’t let the power of celebrity cause you to overpay for less than you deserve.


What You Should Look For – Results!

This is the point that trumps all others.

There is a suburb of Sacramento California called Roseville.  If you don’t live there you probably haven’t heard of it.  It’s not exactly the center of the music business, yet something remarkable is happening there.

Singers from this relatively small town are finalists on The Voice and American Idol, they are the opening acts for national tours, they travel singing backup for superstar artists and they are invited to perform at the prestigious Disneyland parks.

When I recently attended a week long symposium of singers and voice teachers from all over the world, it was a singer from Roseville that literally brought the house down.

How is there so much success in one small area?

There is one thing these singers have in common: they all come out of the same vocal studio.

Sing Inc. Vocal Studio is the brainchild of Daniel Hayes (www.singinconline.com) – a gifted voice teacher I have had the honor of working with.

Daniel and his team of hand-picked teachers are achieving a level of success that defies what one would expect from a place outside of the typical show business centers.

Why do I point this out?  Because THIS IS the single most important criteria in choosing a voice teacher: their results with long term students. Daniel and Sing Inc’s are extraordinary!

There is no better qualification for a singing teacher.  Your  job is to find the best singers in your area. These should be singers with no vocal strain or cracks, with complete ease throughout their range.

Ask them who they study with.  If most of them are with a certain singing teacher you have probably found who you should be your next teacher.

If there is no singing teacher in your area getting these results, then find a studio like Sing Inc and get Skype lessons. Your voice deserves it.