The Value of a Great Vocal Coach

When I was a child, I had already been singing since I could speak. My mother had been a professional singer and dad a drummer. They decided not to get me a coach, they didn’t feel I needed it.

“Now, being a coach, I realize, I would have been a better singer than I am if I had a good coach.”

~ Jessica Marciel

It is better to have no coach than a bad one. I have had many students come to me after four or five vocal coaches, and I hear the same thing. “They never taught me how to breathe.”

We all know how to breathe, we do it all day long. The difference in singing is the need for more air than you need, just to speak, and understanding when to breathe, within the context of the lyrics. I have students who will struggle with a high note. I say, bend down over and make an L-shape and sing to the floor. The note comes out easily. When you do breathing exercises it helps you hold and control notes.

Again, when my students go in the studio, my producer Tom Marolda insists I be there, because he is unable to work the engineer board, and explain what he needs from the singer. A phrase like “How Does it Feel” becomes fell, as we soften the ‘E’. The emotion has to come through. A singer isn’t seen on a CD so one must make the listener feel what the vocalist is feeling.

The texture and colors of a song are important. You cannot sing a song the same way all through it, or it becomes monotone. My student, Marine Goujon, is recording an album project, and we are concentrating on her dynamics, because this is an important project. I wanted her to almost whisper a part and then bam, when the band comes back in, it explodes and really is quite effective.

Tom wanted her voice to sound a little raspy. This is not the way she sings , so I took an hour with her and wore her out. I put her through the hardest exercises I could think of, and trashed her voice. Tom came back in and we proceeded with the song and it was more funky and a little more sexy, with a few words that had a rasp.
This isn’t something I suggest be done often, because it is hard on the vocal chords. Afterwards, we gave her warm water and honey and I had her hum gently, which soothes the throat.

Another student, Dayna, just recorded a fantastic song for an up coming film. We had to make sure she had the right timber in her voice, the right tone. Tom believes a lot of people make mistakes not including coaches during recording sessions. Vocal coaches can explain things that producers and writers can’t.

A good coach is hard to find. I will be the first to say, I was not that good, I was just learning to be able to explain how to get the voice moving and the right way to warm up. I know that Brett Manning helped me a lot. He has a great method that works for pop, R&B and country, blues, rock, metal, you name it. I have my own methods that adds some emotional connection to the music. I can help by telling a singer, where to take a breath, where to sing softly, where to punch it, etc.

Our throats are our instruments, we have no piano case, no guitar case, nothing!, we need to be, well, Diva’s! Only because to protect our throats, we need rest, water, warm up’, and special attention to our health.

I believe if you find a coach you can connect to, one that will really help you find your voice, you are lucky. It is nearly impossible to get signed now by a label. With so many independent labels and producers making you pay for your own albums before they will shop you.

There is no point in spending a lot of money unless you have the right material, producer, and connections to shop the product. It is a different time than when I recorded. They paid for everything. Now, you make your own album and then if you are lucky, you can get someone to shop you to labels. They wont listen to anything unsolicited. So, don’t waste your money unless you think YouTube will help you get discovered. It does happen, but not very often.

When and if you decide on a coach, make sure every moment of your money is well spent. I mean, they really work you, like a personal trainer would. I also believe in homework. Get a CD to take home and practice with, everyday. You don’t use your voice, you lose it.

Good luck, and hopefully this information helped

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training


Maintaining Your Vocal Health

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