Five Tips for Hiring or Firing a Vocal Coach

vocal coach

Recently, I’ve been hired by many new students. However, they are not new to having a coach. Many have told me: ‘The teacher never taught me to breathe”. I found it hard to understand why any singer, or competent coach would say such a thing.

Do NOT be taken in by ‘coaches’ who have you sing in public long before you are ready.  You visit a vocal coach to learn, not to sing Karaoke! That is fine when you are ready, but not prematurely.

TIP #1:  Location, Location, Location: How far you have to travel for a lesson should be of little importance. Do not settle for a teacher because they live close by!  I have traveled  far for good coaching. In the long run, you will have saved by learning what you need to, from a better coach.

TIP #2:  Breathing: It is the most important thing in singing. You will never hurt your throat if  you breathe correctly, and avoid using your ‘throat’.    You will learn to use your mask ,  and your inner costal, or stomach muscles. Everyone has their own lung capacity. You must find your limits and then go beyond them. Set your goals high, and do the work, it will pay off. If you visit a vocal coach that doesn’t teach you how to breathe, properly, run… don’t walk to a coach that knows better.

TIP#3:  Singing isn’t just speaking in pitch. You need to admire your coaches voice, so they can help you be creative How she or he relates to you to reach your trouble spots. If you have a hard time getting power, in your chest voice, the tongue proper placement is essential. If your coach isn’t helping  you improve in this area, every week, move on. It takes time, everyone is different, so, no promises should me made.

TIP#4:   Your voice coach should explain why you are doing everything you do. Including: holding breath, crunches, and why they help stamina. Blowing candles  and a lot of stomach work,,, How and why these  work. What exactly is happening in your mouth, throat, stomach,  your nasality.

TIP#5:  You and your coach should like each other. Have a pleasant time in the session. You don’t want it to be an unpleasant ‘oh no, I don’t want to go’ experience.  He or she should be likable, a sense of humor and you should trust them. 

The saying  ‘they who cannot do, teach’ is not true.  In most cases, we are semi retired, and we mentor new talent. It is a passion that does not go away.

So, when looking for someone, search hard, and study them.

  • How long have they been in the business?
  • Have you heard them sing?

An Olympic Ice skater would never take a coach that wasn’t a former skater. Good Luck, and remember, it is your investment, time and money. Spend it wisely.

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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10 Success Tips For Singing Competition Auditions

Singing Competition Judges

Singing Competition Judges

I have watched countless singing competition auditions on TV shows. Now, having judged a talent show, I can tell you, how to get winning results.

Song Selection and Execution: Choose your song carefully. It should climb to a crescendo, quickly, and make sure it shows your range. Get to the bridge, fast, leave out a verse if the verses are too long.  We want to hear you really in control of every note.Do not bore them, with a ballad that doesn’t go anywhere.

You need to relate to the people, even if there are just three people there. You need to perform. To feel the song. Choose a song you love . A song close to your age (age appropriate) and will showcase your emotional range as well as your vocal range.

Breathing and Phrasing: Proper breathing and phrasing are  a must. If you are not trained, you can still learn a song correctly, by breathing where you would, if you were speaking the song. Take the lyrics, and speak them, pay attention to where you are breathing. That is where you should breathe when you sing it.

Then you need drama, and emotion. That’s why the song is important. You want the judges to have goose bumps. Move them. Make them feel something. You can go another way, and do a comedic number, but they won’t take you as seriously.

Song Choice Examples: ‘Nothing ‘ From ‘A Chorus Line’ is a great song for a Broadway show audition. Also ‘Blue Hair’  for theatre., ‘Life Of the Party’ from ‘The Wild Party’ Broadway show.  ‘Listen’ is great for pop.

If you are a belter, any song by Janis Joplin, Jesse J, Aretha Franklin, or Etta James are excellent picks… or the English singer Sam Brown, ‘Stay Baby Stay’.   But stay away from the overdone ‘Adele’ songs.  A nice ballad, ‘Wish me a Rainbow’ of the film, ‘This Property is Condemned’. Judges are tired of listening to Adele songs.

Some of these song choices are on the Las Vegas Vocal Training YouTube channel.

Top 10 Tips for Singing Competition Auditions

  1. Singing Competition AuditionsKnow the genre of the show, and what they are looking for. Look at video from past seasons, and study the people who got through.
  2. Choose a song that starts out strong, and if it doesn’t, start at the bridge.
  3. Wear something comfortable and flattering. Wear heels if you are a woman. Dress nicely, but not over done.
  4. Be comfortable onstage. Feel as though you belong there. Introduce yourself, and warm them to you. Breathe deeply before you go in, and exhale all the negative feelings.
  5. Look judges in the eyes. Then as you sing, concentrate on what you need to do to, and reel them in. Make them feel your song.
  6. Song selection will make or break you. Prepare three songs. I have had observed X-Factor auditions for my students. They were told to prepare 90 seconds. The audition person with the mic, asked for two entire complete songs from each of my students. That made three entire songs from start to finish. They even gave one student time to go out and think of another song. Be prepared and have more in mind, just in case.
  7. If they ask you questions, answer, clearly, loud, and with energy. These shows are largely about personality. If you hem and haw and yes or no, short answers, they will pass on you. You are not good television.
  8. Thank them after you are finished, and smile as if they are British royalty.
  9. When you sing, move about, as if you own the stage. Do not let them know you are frightened or insecure at all.
  10. Be as prepared as you can, and bring bio, picture, and an mp3 or a DVD. They will video record your audition, but having the tools makes you professional and makes you stand out!

The art of the audition is just that, an art. It takes time, thought, preparation, and practice. Really do your homework and get professional help if you can.  If you need sheet music for 16-bars or 32-bars or a  CD track, go to www.auditiontrax.com. Tom Grieps, in Los Angeles, provides this service for a reasonable fee. It’s a one-day service. He will send a pdf of your song, in your key;  CD or Sheet music and your music is ready.

Be prepared, be yourself, have fun. This is what you want to do, so act naturally.

Good Luck!

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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