• Ryan Jenkins: The Online Vocal Coach

Do I Really Need a Vocal Coach?

You wouldn't run a marathon without the correct training, right? Think of singing as the vocal equivalent of running a marathon. As singers, we expect so much from our voice but often forget to give it the care, training, and attention it needs to succeed.

Singing is demanding on the vocal instrument. Singers work over a wide range of pitches, sustain long notes, rapidly traverse over melody lines, add emotional expression, alter dynamic, add complex rhythms with pitch changes, project into a large space, sing against instrumentation and sing through a microphone… That is an awful lot to ask of your body.

Many professional singers have learned their skill on the job, and arguably with varying degrees of success. Take that from someone who knows, as I would consider myself one of those singers.

Throughout my early career as a working vocalist, I was thrown onto the stage five, sometimes six nights a week, with the expectation of belting out song after song with almost no training or guidance at all. This was incredibly risky and dangerous to my vocal health. In fact, I would go as far to say as it was neglect on the part of the companies I worked for, for not providing me with adequate vocal support and coaching. Fortunately, I saw the light and soon realised that if I were to continue working within the music business, I would need the correct training.

I hear it all the time as a vocal coach. Many of my older singers will say to me, “I used to sing all the time with no difficulties at all and now I can barely sing for a few minutes without feeling hoarse or sore.” My first response is always - Did you have any form of vocal training or coaching? – and the answer is almost always, NO!

It may surprise you to hear that the singers you admire on the radio, TV, YouTube etc. all had vocal training and will continue to do so for the rest of their careers. Just like a car needs an MOT, your voice needs regular maintenance to prolong its use and to keep it in tip-top condition. Some examples of top-level singers who have vocal training and had vocal training before gaining fame include Beyoncé, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Chris Martin, Adele, Ariana Grande, and Ed Sheeran, just to name a few. Vocal injury will almost certainly have an impact on your ability to sing and in severe cases will be career-ending, often before its begun.

What will I develop that I can't do on my own?

You cannot just rely on talent alone – it takes more than talent to stay at the top of your game.

Vocal coaching will enable you to develop yourself in a way that allows you to become a more reliable and consistent singer by working on the areas that need addressing. This could be vocal strength, dexterity, range, control, dynamic range, intonation development, breath control, vocal style adaption, connecting and blending registers, and increasing flexibility and stamina. If you get control of your voice, you will sing more profoundly and authentically.

In addition to this, a qualified vocal coach will help you to find and develop your own sound and style rather than imitating the singers you listen to – which should be avoided at all cost, unless you’re a tribute artist!

With the right training, care, and determination your instrument will flourish, as well as enabling you to gain vocal consistency and health during your singing life. Adopt the mindset of a professional athlete and take a dedicated methodology to vocal training and coaching, and you will absolutely reap the rewards.

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