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What to look for in a singing teacher

Here at Bristol Voice Care we have a commitment to person-centred teaching, that draws on holistic strategies to unite mind, body and voice. But not all singing teachers approach their craft in the same way and it can be important to consider your personal goals and needs when choosing the right teacher for your vocal journey.

In this post we will guide you through some key questions to consider and ask when searching for your teacher.

Instructor or Facilitator?

Traditionally singing teaching has used a master-apprentice model of teaching where students are told what to do by their teachers and encouraged to follow and imitate their teacher’s style and technique. Whilst imitation and modelling are valuable educational tools, at Bristol Voice Care we prefer to see ourselves as facilitators. In our role we act as guides that help you explore your natural voice, through play and experimentation. Whilst we have a range of strategies and a wealth of stylistic and technical knowledge at our disposal, we like to offer these as menu selections, allowing students to choose the strategies that suit them and allow them to reach their goals efficiently and enjoyably.

Classical, Contemporary or A Mix?

Just approaches to singing are not a one-size fits all approach for students, the same applies for genres and styles. Technical and stylistic approaches will differ depending on the kind of music that you are preparing to sing. At Bristol Voice Care we have experience working with singers across all genres, from classical opera to rock and pop. In particular we like to experiment with cross-training for singers, which means playing with techniques from a different genre to that which the singer normally performs and finding out what we can learn about their voice and performance qualities. Whilst this is an exciting way of working, we are also clear about our background in classical and musical theatre singing and have a wide-ranging network of other expert professionals to refer you to, should the need for more specialist tuition arise.

Coaching or Teaching?

Whether vocal instructors should be called singing teachers or vocal coaches is hotly debated in some circles (yes, really!). Although oftentimes these terms are used interchangeably, there can be some key differences in approach. Singing teachers tend to work on more technical aspects of singing, such as breath management, vowel formation, acoustic strategies and stylistic elements of repertoire. Vocal coaches on the other hand tend to work on selected repertoire and give detailed feedback on how to improve performance of that repertoire, without necessarily going into as much technical detail as a singing teacher. The reason for the debate about these terms is that there is a lot of cross over between those roles and some teachers will also work on repertoire as a coach would and some coaches will dive into more technical aspects of performance. It is worth noting that some vocal coaches are accompanists or choral directors and may have less detailed knowledge of vocal pedagogy. They do a great job, but they are not the people to see if you want technical help setting up and developing your vocal instrument. At Bristol Voice Care we specialise in singing teaching, choral vocal coaching and classical vocal coaching, particularly Early and Baroque Music Styles and English Song.

Vocal Health Knowledge

It is really important that your singing teacher has up to date understanding of best practice for vocal health. This applies even if you are a novice singer. No matter how often you sing and to what level, good vocal health is vitally important. The right teacher can set you up on a lifelong journey of fulfilment from singing and performing and it is important to check that the teacher has basic knowledge and a network of specialists they can signpost you to, should you need help with your vocal health.

Qualifications and Experience

The skills and experience you look for in a teacher will depend on your vocal aspirations. Not every teacher needs to have performed on the west end stage. In fact, some of the best teachers are career teachers and their performance careers have come second to this priority. This does not make them a bad singer. In fact, it can be a huge benefit. Similarly, some of the best lessons can be learned from seasoned performers who have come to teaching later in life or who teach via workshops and masterclasses alongside their main careers as performers. What is important for both these kinds of teachers is that they have an accurate understanding of how voices work and what good teaching looks like. Whether this is done through formal teaching qualifications, or other forms of professional development depends on the context of the work. At Bristol Voice Care we pride ourselves on our vocal and teaching qualifications and experience and are committed to being lifelong learners, believing that there is always more to learn no matter how long you have been teaching and singing! Look for teachers who show commitment to their own development either through their training, education or the professional networks they are part of. A personal recommendation and a good reputation is a great place to start when looking for a teacher.


Assuming your chosen teacher has the skills and qualifications needed to help you reach your goals, whether you like them is vitally important. Learning theory shows that positive relationships between teachers and students equals positive results. It can be good to go for a one off consultation lesson with a teacher to see whether or not their approach suits you and whether you have fun working with them. Many teachers offer ad hoc lessons at a slightly increased price, but investing time and money in a trial session is well worth it. Find the right person to guide you and you will be more relaxed and your natural voice will be free and easy to produce!

Whatever your goals are, developing your voice with a vocal expert will be rewarding and enjoyable. To start exploring your vocal potential with Bristol Voice Care why not book a free discovery call to see how our services can support your vocal journey.