Qualities Singer-Songwriters Look for in a Vocal Tutor
What you read in this feature is quite probably true for all singers, but this is aimed especially at singer/songwriters as they have several defining concerns. In this musical climate, many singer-songwriters are called on more than ever to be their own everything: booking agent, business manager, chauffer, graphic designer. It’s enough to boggle the mind! Alas, only the strongest survive. And, on top of that, you have to become your own advocate for what makes you feel and sound great. That’s where vocal tutors who specialize in working with YOU come in. And, here’s what they do well:
1. They listen to you without judgement
Show of hands: how many of you have had voice teachers tell you what you could and could not do? (No dairy! No drinking! No smoking!) Well, guess what? We know that once you’re an adult, you get to make decisions for yourself.
We’ve never told an adult student they shouldn’t do anything; We tend to point out what can happen if you eat too much dairy (mucus, blech), or how drinking can dry you out (because science; alcohol is an astringent). Still, We hear you when you talk about your quality of life, the things that bring you joy, the things that relax you. A vocal tutor is there to help you weigh the positives and negatives and bring you to good decisions for yourself…kapish?
2. Tutors won’t equivocate or lie to you
Tutors don’t judge, but if something you’re doing isn’t working or if you’re headed down a path that doesn’t make you shine, they are not going to shine you on, get it? Some vocal tutors let too much stuff go for varying reasons: keeping a full client roster, saying “yes” is easier than figuring out what’s wrong, wanting to spare peoples’ feelings.
Now, we are not saying every teacher does this, but singer/songwriters: are you getting zero push back from your vocal tutor? Is everything always “just great”? We’ve encountered this ourselves and do NOT appreciate it, nor do We buy it. There’s always room for constructive criticism presented lovingly, in the spirit of advancement. Make sure your tutor feels the same. Let’s face it; everyone’s level of talent is different and sometimes, some students aren’t going to be the next Ed Sheeran no matter how they try, which leads us to our final point:
3. Tutors help you be the best ‘you’ you can be
Tutors love your uniqueness, your je ne sais quois. They don’t want you to sound like every other singer. Tutors don’t even know how to make all their clients sound alike. They salute your journey and want you to do it big, do it well and do it with a healthy, happy voice. For some of you, big means touring, hit songs and lots of cash and notoriety. For others, it means feeling comfortable enough* in your own skin to put a pen to paper and express what your heart feels and maybe even perform in a small venue, at a writer’s round, or at an assisted living facility.
*Notice We said “enough”; some artists will never be totally comfortable and that’s okay, too. Your chosen tutor can work with that! We’ve worked with educators, medical personnel, kids, machinists, professional musicians and singers and more, and the common denominator is the desire to connect.
That’s where vocal tutors step up and say, “I see you. I hear you. I understand where you’re going and can help you get there. Will you trust them?” If you say yes and you have found the right tutor, you can make some beautiful music.