There are lots of voice teachers, singing teachers, vocal coaches and voice coaches in NYC - how do you know which one to choose? First, let’s examine what these terms mean and the difference between them.
The term voice teacher is synonymous with the term singing teacher. It is someone who focuses on proper technique and application of it to the repertoire. Voice teachers work with students on specific vocal needs: pitch control, eliminating nasality, extending vocal range, building the voice, using breath support, engaging vocal resonances and applying the technique to styles. Some singing teachers will teach you how to prevent and correct a vocal injury, and more.
The term vocal coach is synonymous with the term voice coach. They often may be a pianist, music producer, conductor, or others in the music field, and have experience with musical performances in their respective genres. A vocal coach might assist with such matters as pronunciation, musical phrasing, performance practice, as well as assisting the singer to “own” the song. They will make cuts and arrangements tailored to each individual student’s strengths. A voice coach wouldn’t interfere with vocal technique. If there are any problem areas, a voice coach will explain to the singer what the issues are and advise the singer to discuss it with the voice teacher.
It’s important to note that while these definitions are very general, there is a blurred line between them. These terms have been confused by the profession at large. Some teachers are voice teachers but call themselves vocal coaches, and some voice coaches may call themselves singing teachers. Some teachers, such as myself, do both - train on technique and work on all aspects of performance. I generally refer to myself as a voice teacher simply because adding titles such as singing teacher, vocal coach and voice coach is confusing to the reader.
So if you want to become a professional singer, who do you choose? My advice is this - first learn the most effective vocal technique and perfect your diction. Then work on your phrasing, performance, voice building, etc. Ideally, you want to find someone who is both a singing teacher and a vocal coach. Someone who knows all there is to know about singing will be able to do both. If you are working with two people, you will wind up going back and forth and losing time. As far as selecting the best instructor, my advice is that if you don’t hear an immediate improvement in every singing lesson then you should move on. As a professional singer myself, I learned all the major and minor vocal techniques. I can assure you that when a mistake in technique is fixed on a specific song there will be an immediate improvement and often, it will be a major one. On the other hand, strengthening of the overall voice with exercises will take some time to take full effect. However, you should hear some positive difference promptly after completing the exercises.
In the first three months of training with a great voice teacher, singing teacher, vocal coach or voice coach, you should hear a very noticeable improvement. In contrast, if you’ve spent three months studying with an instructor and you are not blown away by your own improvement, then it’s definitely time to move on. Don’t believe those instructors who will tell you that it takes many years to hear a significant improvement. It does not. Effective singing lessons work fast. There are a lot of voice teachers and vocal coaches in NYC, don’t waste your time.