Vocal coach

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Vocal coach Seth Riggs at a 2013 vocal workshop Seth Riggs at the "Margareta Svensson and Seth Riggs Summer Vocal Workshop" in Varberg, Sweden July 26, 2013.jpg
Vocal coach Seth Riggs at a 2013 vocal workshop

A vocal coach, also known as a voice coach (though this term often applies to those working with speech and communication rather than singing) is a music teacher, usually a piano accompanist, who helps singers prepare for a performance, often also helping them to improve their singing technique and take care of and develop their voice, but is not the same as a singing teacher (also called a "voice teacher"). Vocal coaches may give private music lessons or group workshops or masterclasses to singers. They may also coach singers who are rehearsing on stage, or who are singing during a recording session. Vocal coaches are used in both Classical music and in popular music styles such as rock and gospel. While some vocal coaches provide a range of instruction on singing techniques, others specialize in areas such as breathing techniques or diction and pronunciation.

Singing act of producing musical sounds with the voice

Singing is the act of producing musical sounds with the voice and augments regular speech by the use of sustained tonality, rhythm, and a variety of vocal techniques. A person who sings is called a singer or vocalist. Singers perform music that can be sung with or without accompaniment by musical instruments. Singing is often done in an ensemble of musicians, such as a choir of singers or a band of instrumentalists. Singers may perform as soloists or accompanied by anything from a single instrument up to a symphony orchestra or big band. Different singing styles include art music such as opera and Chinese opera, Indian music and religious music styles such as gospel, traditional music styles, world music, jazz, blues, gazal and popular music styles such as pop, rock, electronic dance music and filmi.

A voice teacher or singing teacher is a musical instructor who assists adults and children in the development of their abilities in singing.

Classical music broad tradition of Western art music

Classical music is art music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western culture, including both liturgical (religious) and secular music. While a more precise term is also used to refer to the period from 1750 to 1820, this article is about the broad span of time from before the 6th century AD to the present day, which includes the Classical period and various other periods. The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common-practice period. The major time divisions of Western art music are as follows:

Contents

Roles

Other roles

A vocal coach is sometimes responsible for writing and producing vocal arrangements for four-part harmony for backup vocalists or helping to develop counter melodies for a secondary vocalist. Some vocal coaches may also advise singers or bands on lyric-writing for a music production. Some critics allege that in some cases where popular music recordings credit a singer for work as a vocal coach during a recording, this may be a subtle way of acknowledging a ghostwriting role, in which the coach writes lyrics for a singer-songwriter or rapper.

The term "four-part harmony" refers to music written for four voices or for some other musical medium—four musical instruments or a single keyboard instrument, for example—where the various musical parts can give a different note for each chord of the music.

In the 2000s, the increasing use of recording software which contains vocal processing algorithms and digital pitch correction devices is replacing some of the roles of the vocal coach. In the 1970s, if a producer wanted to record a single with a popular sports star with few vocal skills, the celebrity would need weeks of vocal coaching to learn their song and improve their tone and diction. In the 2000s, the vocals are often processed through pitch correction software instead, and rhythm can be corrected with Pro Tools. This enables 2000s-era producers and audio engineers to in order to make an untrained performer's singing sound closer to that of a trained vocalist.

Training and experience

The training and education of vocal coaches vary widely. Many vocal coaches are former or current professional singers. Some vocal coaches have extensive formal training, such as a Bachelor of Music, a Master of Music, a Conservatory diploma, or degrees in related areas such as foreign languages or diplomas in human kinetics, posture techniques, or breathing methods. On the other hand, some vocal coaches may have little formal training, and so they rely on their extensive experience as a performer. For example, a native German language speaker who moves to the US may begin providing German diction coaching to amateur vocal students, and over several decades, this vocal coach may develop a broad range of on-the-job experience in coaching German-language singing styles such as lieder and Wagnerian opera.

Vocal coaches may also come to their profession through other routes, such as related musical professions or from other fields. Some vocal coaches, for example, are rehearsal pianists with decades of experience accompanying singers, or former or current choral, music theater, or symphony conductors. More rarely, vocal coaches may come to the profession from a non-musical route. For example, a specialist in Alexander Technique, yoga, or medical aspects of the throat and vocal cords may begin to specialize in coaching and training singers.

The Alexander Technique, named after its creator Frederick Matthias Alexander, is an educational process that was created to retrain habitual patterns of movement and posture. Alexander believed that poor habits in posture and movement damaged spatial self-awareness as well as health, and that movement efficiency could support overall physical well-being. He saw the technique as a mental training technique as well.

Yoga physical and meditative spiritual practices from ancient India typically practiced on a yoga mat

Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India. Yoga is one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophical traditions. There is a broad variety of yoga schools, practices, and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The term "yoga" in the Western world often denotes a modern form of Hatha yoga, consisting largely of the postures called asanas.

The vocal coaching field is competitive, especially at the highest professional levels. Salaries vary greatly, as do the conditions of work. While a small number of top vocal coaches can command very high hourly or daily rates, most vocal coaches, like most other music and arts professionals, tend to have salaries which are below the average for other professions which require a similar amount of education and experience, such as economists or bank managers. The work conditions vary widely, from part-time or occasional freelance work for individual singers, opera companies, or record companies, to full-time contracts or multi-year jobs for universities (coaching vocal performance students and students in opera courses) or music theater companies.

Methods of instruction

While vocal coaches use many different techniques to teach singing, they will usually instruct students in one or more of the following methods:

Barbershop quartet A cappella close harmony singing group

A barbershop quartet is a group of four singers who sing music in the barbershop genre of singing, which uses four-part harmony without accompaniment by any instruments such as piano, a style called a cappella. It consists of a lead, the vocal part which generally carries the tune/melody; a bass, the part which provides the bass line to the melody; a tenor, the part which harmonizes above the lead; and a baritone, the part that completes the chord with the note not being sung by the lead, bass, or tenor singers. The baritone can sing either above or below the lead singer.

Recording studio facility for sound recording

A recording studio is a specialized facility for sound recording, mixing, and audio production of instrumental or vocal musical performances, spoken words, and other sounds. They range in size from a small in-home project studio large enough to record a single singer-guitarist, to a large building with space for a full orchestra of 100 or more musicians. Ideally both the recording and monitoring spaces are specially designed by an acoustician or audio engineer to achieve optimum acoustic properties.

Microphone a device that converts sound into an electrical signal

A microphone, colloquially nicknamed mic or mike, is a transducer that converts sound into an electrical signal.

Nomenclature: vocal coach vs. voice teacher

Within the community of voice teachers, there has been some debate about the terms "vocal coach" and "voice teacher".

While many believe the terms are synonymous, some professionals in the music community hold that the terms have slightly different meanings.

The terms "voice teacher" and "singing teacher" are most often used to refer to a teacher that has been educated and instructs vocal pedagogy, while a vocal coach may not possess the same education level.

In universities, for example, it would be rare to have a professor of voice refer to themselves as a vocal coach, even though they may teach private lessons.

Additionally, the term "voice teacher" or "singing teacher" normally refers to an instructor whose main role is developing the singing voice. The term "vocal coach", on the other hand, may be appropriated by someone who works on stage performance, vocal style or a host of other subjects that are related to voice, but not necessarily teach singing. [1]

See also

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Music lesson type of formal instruction in music

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Multitrack recording

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Accompaniment musical parts which provide the rhythmic and/or harmonic support for the melody or main themes of a song or instrumental piece

Accompaniment is the musical part which provides the rhythmic and/or harmonic support for the melody or main themes of a song or instrumental piece. There are many different styles and types of accompaniment in different genres and styles of music. In homophonic music, the main accompaniment approach used in popular music, a clear vocal melody is supported by subordinate chords. In popular music and traditional music, the accompaniment parts typically provide the "beat" for the music and outline the chord progression of the song or instrumental piece.

Vocal range is the measure of the breadth of pitches that a human voice can phonate. Its most common application is within the context of singing, where it is used as a defining characteristic for classifying singing voices into groups known as voice types. It is also a topic of study within linguistics, phonetics, and speech and language pathology, particularly in relation to the study of tonal languages and certain types of vocal disorders, although it has little practical application in terms of speech.

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A vocal warm-up is a series of exercises meant to prepare the voice for singing, acting, or other use.

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John Douglas (conductor) American conductor, voice teacher, vocal coach, and accompanist

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Spill (audio) sound picked up from a source other than intended

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Complete Vocal Institute is an educational institution, located at Kultorvet in Copenhagen. The Institute was opened in 2005 and uses a teaching method called Complete Vocal Technique, which was developed by singer and voice researcher Cathrine Sadolin. CVI educates professionals and semi-professional singers and teachers and there are ongoing about 250 singers (2012) associated with the longer courses.

Beverley Peck Johnson was an American voice teacher, soprano, and pianist who taught on the faculties of several institutions, including the Juilliard School. Her pupils included several prominent opera singers, actors, and entertainers, including sopranos Renée Fleming, Renata Tebaldi, Anna Moffo, tenor Anthony Dean Griffey, and actors Madeline Kahn, Kevin Kline, and Constance Towers among others. Music critic Anthony Tommasini wrote that "Johnson was particularly valued by students for a keen ability to find individual solutions to their problems."

References

  1. "Singing Coach vs Voice Teacher: What's the Difference?". Octave Higher East. 2017-07-30. Retrieved 2017-07-31.