• Joe Keegan

Learn to Sing: The Process

The challenge of tackling misconceptions around all things singing continues! The world is full of talented singers. The pathway to becoming part of that club is incredibly diverse. Yes there are those among us that have a natural affinity for singing. However, there are also hundreds and thousands of professional singers who's journey to success required years of dedication and training to become incredible vocalists.

My professional opinion, as a vocal coach, is clearly slightly biased but the reason I advocate for vocal coaching and training your voice is so that long term you use your voice with healthy and sustainable technique.

You might have the most beautiful sound to your voice but if you're creating that sound with poor technique, over an extended period of time, you risk running into issues later in your career. Often these are problems that, with a little more training and understanding of the mechanisms of the voice, could have been avoided.

So it's clear that high quality vocal coaching is an important factor of building sustainability into your singing voice.

"But Joe" I hear you say, "what does that vocal coaching actually look like and why/how does it work?!"

Well... I have talked about the mechanisms of the voice and how the voice works in previous articles. Fundamentally, training the voice breaks down into three sections.

  1. Breathing

  2. Phonation - The creation of the sound.

  3. Resonation - The shaping of the sound.

Any decent vocal coaching should cover all of those elements in some capacity. Some vocal coaches may focus on very specific elements of the process. But if you're paying out for vocal coaching make sure all of these elements are present in the tuition you receive.

In my studio I work with singers to identify areas for improvement and isolate individual issues as much as possible. Isolating vocal sounds often requires the vocalist to create some real weird and wonderful noises.

These 'noises' could be helping to get the sound resonating better in a specific part of the vocal tract. They could be helping the vocal folds come together, reduce tension or alternatively reduce the amount of air and the breathy quality in the sound.

Let yourself make these sounds and experience the change in sensation. The voice is an instrument we can't see. It's an instrument we don't have direct control over. For those reasons we need to be able to recognise, remember and repeat sensations in order to improve. It's all about muscle memory.

A vocal coach should have a multitude of exercises to help you feel your voice sitting in the right place. When it's right it feels right! Singing and singing impressively (whatever impressive looks like for you as an artist) should feel comfortable and controlled. A vocal coach is there to get you to that point. Hopefully, with the right coach you should feel results quickly and develop steadily as you build stamina and control into your vocal technique.

When you look for a vocal coach you're not necessarily looking for someone with the best voice. Rather, you're looking for someone with the best ears. A vocal coach needs to be able to hear where adjustments need to be made within your voice. An important aspect of contemporary vocal coaching is factoring individuality and artistry into that equation. Allowing you (the student) to develop a pallet of vocal sounds throughout your range so you can make well informed, healthy and controlled artistic decisions.

In the world of musical theatre, building dexterity in your voice is crucial in order to create sounds that are stylistically appropriate in the context of the show you're performing, from legit music to contemporary MT.

Vocal coaching in the context should guide you towards sounds that are correct in those different settings. You need to be able to listen, understand and replicate the sounds that are idiomatically correct with the style of song you are singing.

Similarly in classical voice the confines within which you must operate vocally are much tighter. My final piece of advice for you is this. If you're looking for a vocal coach, find someone who has expertise in the style of singing you want to develop.

I hope you this article useful feel free to drop me any questions wither in the comments section of this post or by email

If you're interested in keeping up to date with all things singing you can join my community of singers here on the Singing Gym Facebook group:

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