With all the YouTube videos and online resources available with regards to singing and learning how to sing, some of us may say that we do not really need to find a singing instructor to teach us in person.
Yes, we do agree that we can learn a lot of stuff from the internet, from how to make gnocchi to how to mend a hole in a table with ramen noodles. (Yes, you didn’t read it wrongly. Ramen noodles).
However, for singing, it is always better to have an actual singing instructor who can coach you in person, rather than just learn from YouTube videos and online resources.
1) You can’t listen to yourself that accurately
In our previous article, Top 5 Questions that our Vocal Students Always Ask Us !, we explained why we sound different when we hear our own voice when we are singing, as compared to when we hear a recording of our singing.
Just a short recap, basically what you are hearing in your own head and what the audience actually hears are 2 different things. The sounds you hear in your own head include bone conduction sounds, and you always sound much better, compared to when you hear your recorded voice.
As such, it is always tough for vocal students to listen to themselves accurately. Even if you record your own singing, and then use the knowledge learnt online to resolve any vocal issues that you may detect, there is a high change that you might be doing it wrongly without proper guidance from someone who is professionally trained in voice.
A good singing teacher and voice trainer would be able to provide you with immediate feedback regarding your vocal issues. He or she would also be able to customize solutions based on your voice type and vocal habits, and come up with targeted ways in which to help you to achieve what you want in your voice, without hurting your singing and speaking voice.
2) Something that works for others, might not work for you!
Being in the singing education business for many years, our instructors have certainly watched numerous online tutorial videos and also Youtube instructional videos, to gauge for ourselves whether they are effective or not.
Certainly, there are many different ways in which we can reach or attain our desired vocal goal(s). Some of these ways that are being taught online might even be a little unorthodox, but sometimes these might even be effective!
However, the main qualm we have about just learning from the internet is that this way of learning is a one-way street. The ‘Youtube singing teacher’ is only able to teach you via his or her instructional video, and you watch to learn from the knowledge that is in that video.
There are many different types of singers in the world, and certainly numerous voice types and vocal issues. How do we know that a solution mentioned in the Youtube video is the right one for us? And also, how would we even know that we are doing it correctly?
This is similar to what happens when we search for a simple remedy on WebMD for back ache. There are so many possible causes of back ache, and so many solutions! Back ache can also be one of the symptoms of cancer! However, if we consult a real live doctor about our back issue, we often find out that it is just muscle strain.
In many ways, having a vocal consultation in person is just like seeing a doctor at the clinic. The singing instructor will consider the many variables that concern your vocal issues, including your voice type, habitual singing and speaking habits, vocal range, body posture and so on. With this knowledge, the advice that the singing instructor gives is uniquely customized for you, and not just some generic advice given via a Youtube video or online resource.
3) A good singing instructor is experienced in spotting the warning signs for potential vocal injuries
As a beginner singer, whenever we work on our vocal technique, we often base our knowledge on what we already know. Depending on our pre-existing vocal habits, that could be good or bad for our self-practice, because we could actually be doing things that are potentially damaging to our voice in the long run.
Also, a lot of vocal learning is done via imitation, for example, learning to sing a song by listening to other singers do it, and also referencing Youtube videos of singers online, and then trying to make the same sound that they make. This could potentially cause you to use techniques that might damage your voice, but produce the tone that you want.
Some beginner singers even manage to practise so hard with damaging vocal habits, that they start to form nodules on their vocal folds. Their singing and speaking begins to feel harder to do, and their voice begins to feel hoarse, and in some cases, they even feel pain when they sing and speak.
At Intune Music, most of our instructors have at least 7 years of teaching experience or more, with some instructors even having up to 18 years of experience! As such, we are very familiar with the warning signs of such hurtful and damaging vocal problems.
We do have a case of a student who was spotted by an instructor to have a potential voice injury, and when referred to an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) doctor, was put on complete vocal rest to recover before resuming singing lessons with us.
Without an experienced singing instructor, such situations could potentially be damaging to the young singer’s voice in the long run!
4) Lack of the most updated information and vocal methodology
The art of teaching singing is essentially also a very precise science! There are always new articles and new research being released, and a good singing instructor will most certainly be able to keep track of such new knowledge, and impart them to our students accordingly.
Many Youtube videos online might have been recorded 5 years or even 10 years ago, and the knowledge that was imparted might have been new then, but totally outdated when you view them in the current day and age.
Here at Intune Music, we have a team of instructors who teach a variety of singing courses, including Pop Vocals, Classical Opera, Broadway Singing, Speech Level Singing and Estill Voice Training. Our instructors share their information with each other in order to be able to provide comprehensive and up-to-date singing teaching to our students!
And so, at the beginning of this article, we mentioned ‘Why’ we need to find a good singing instructor.
Now, let’s talk about ‘How’ we can find a good singing instructor!
There are certainly many singing instructors around, and here are just some tips for you to be able to choose a good singing instructor :
A good singing instructor always seeks to improve on their singing teaching knowledge, and one way in which we do this is through obtaining various credentials in singing and singing teaching.
Some credentials include certificates awarded by examination boards, and also professional voice teaching qualifications from international voice organisations. Such credentials will certainly allow students to be able to place more confidence in their teaching, since the instructor has taken the time and the effort to learn new skills in teaching and also to upgrade their singing knowledge and skill set.
With a good set of credentials, singing instructors will also be more equipped with the proper terminology and teaching methods that will allow them to guide students with more efficacy. A good instructor will be able to pinpoint the student’s vocal issues with laser-sharp accuracy, whereas a mediocre instructor will only be able to identify the problems after several rounds of trial and error.
2) Male or Female Singing Instructor
Many beginner singers who start looking for an instructor almost always start off thinking that they would like to have an instructor of the same gender.
Yes, there are certainly advantages when a female student is coached by a female singing instructor. Firstly, when the female instructor demonstrates certain singing techniques or notes, the student is able to hear it in the same range and relate to their own singing voice.
If a male instructor demonstrates the same technique or notes to a female student, the student might not be able to hear it in the same way and with the same ease.
That being said, a good singing instructor should not only be able to demonstrate the desired outcome with their own voice. He or she should also be able to guide the student to be able to produce the sound that is desired, with detailed guidance and language, as well as targeted and effective exercises.
As such, the gender of the instructor may not be all that important, if the instructor is able to get the student to produce the desired vocal outcomes.
At Intune Music, we do have male instructors teaching female students, and female instructor teaching male students for singing. Their progress during lessons is similar, if not better, than students who have instructors of the same gender.
Of course, this is certainly also a matter of student’s preference, and if our students request to have instructors of the same gender, we here at Intune Music will definitely arrange it in order to provide a productive lesson environment for the student.
3) Be clear about how and what you want to learn
Every individual’s learning curve and learning pace is different.
There are students who prefer flexible learning methods, and some who prefer a more structured learning environment. This is why the student needs to be clear about the desired vocal outcomes, and communicate this to the instructor.
The instructor should also be skilled in understanding more from the student about what they wish to achieve, if the student is unable to verbalize what they hear in their own heads.