Over the past ten years or so, I’ve quietly watched a trend developing in the vocal coaching community, which has caused me to shy away from many of my peers. I say this not out of disrespect to any other coach, nor to start some argument. I say it simply because I am not an aggressive person and the trends I’ve seen are just not my style. For some reason, vocal coaching has become a competitive sport with new vocal coaches born every day, popping up everywhere, bashing every other coach in an attempt to rise to the top of this competition. Luckily, I don’t worry about competition as I am only in competition with myself. Considering there are MILLIONS of singers and only THOUSANDS of vocal coaches, well, if you do the math, you’ll see there are enough students. Regardless, I’ve seen and heard of vocal coaches disrespecting other coaches on various sites on the Internet, coaches taking old terminology and rehashing it as “new and improved,” coaches claiming their methods are better than others or claiming that only their method works, coaches becoming master vocal coaches. Hey, I understand some of it and I am even guilty of some of this myself. But, I became self-aware of my actions and corrected my own negative trends early on in my career. Still, some of this is marketing, plain and simple, and if done in a positive manner, there is no harm. In any online business marketing is a must, therefore coaches must find their unique position that separates them from the others in order to stand alone. I understand this and I’ve seen some vocal coaches do this with great success without belittling others. That, I admire and respect.
Bottom line; there is no need to argue. It’s not as is we are heart surgeons there to save lives. We are simply music teachers trying to help others who have an appreciation for music. Therefore, since we are not saving lives, why in the world are we bashing each other? I just don’t get it. In fact, there are tons of great vocal coaches, many I support and promote through my books, just as they have supported me with contributing articles. So, let’s take a look at these various “attacks” if you will so that you can understand why I am NOT a Master Vocal Coach and why I am not part of this competitive trend.
Disrespect of other Vocal Coaches
Why, why, why disrespect another vocal coach? I just don’t get it. If you are a full-time vocal coach who is working with a lot of students and seeing lots of success, then why spend time belittling another coach? I refuse to disrespect another vocal coach, nor do I have the time and energy to waste on such negative uselessness. Eve after teaching nearly 20 years and studying with a variety of vocal coaches, it does not give me the right to disrespect another vocal coach. I have yet to learn it all, nor will I ever learn it all, therefore I am NOT a Master Vocal Coach. In fact, I learn something new every day. Recently, I flew to Krakow, Poland to teach classes on how to scream and add grit. During the three long days consisting of three vocal workshops, a private teacher workshop, and thirty private lessons, I learned sooooo much about how to teach the art of screaming. Although I’ve been screaming myself since 1986 and teaching it since 1996, I learned soooo much more about screaming in those three days. I am always learning from my students, even my fellow vocal coaches with whom I communicate, such as John Henny, James Lugo, Jim Gillette, Ray West, and more. I LOVE to learn, which is why I publish books by coaches that I greatly admire, including Ray, James, Valerie Bastien, Dr. Timothy Jameson, and Elizabeth Sabine. They all have released books such as Vocal Insanity, Voice Yourself in the Classroom, Melody to Madness, Reach for the Top, and Strengthening Your Singing Voice. I LOVE to learn and I’ve learned so much from these teachers. I pay them homage and respect from what I’ve learned, because, in the end, all that I know about the voice I’ve learned from others. I have not created anything revolutionary or new, I’ve only adapted what I’ve learned from others to help me teach my students. Although I AM guilty of the marketing bug, and have used words like NEW and REVOLUTIONARY, in the end, there is nothing new under the sun. With that thought in mind, to disrespect another vocal coach is to disrespect the roots of my own learning.
Bottom line, unless a vocal coach is literally destroying voice after voice, with students ending up with nodules, loss of range, etc. and there is 100% proof of this, there is absolutely no reason to attack a peer. I respect my peers. I’ve sent students to Thomas Appell, I’ve promoted Eli Prinsen’s and Brett Manning’s vocal programs, and I’ve involved Valerie Bastien in video shoots for my Vocal Bootcamp series from iguitar.com. Why? Because I care about passing along great vocal information to students, period! Which is why I refuse to add negative comments to posts, message boards, or videos of other vocal coaches social networking outlets. There is no need for attack. If they are doing well in the vocal coaching business, I wish them ten times the success. Still, this won’t prevent attacks from coming, even if you refuse to play the game. If you decide to become a vocal coach, then you best have thick skin because there WILL be others, not just vocal coaches, that will slander your name. I’ve seen it on my own videos and even in reviews on my books on Amazon. I don’t feel the need to defend myself or respond to Internet trolls, because you cannot battle stupidity. Let your work speak for itself, be passionate about teaching, uphold your peers, and I guarantee you’ll be successful! I’ve worked with some prominent names and I assure you, they didn’t flock to me out of a trend of “having the same vocal coach as so and so.” They came to me because they have heard of my passion, which is why there are many successful vocal coaches who work with celebrities. If a vocal coach has worked with a well known singer, it is because that vocal coach has earned respect and knows what they are doing when it comes to voice! Again, the work speaks for itself and there should be admiration for that coach instead of jealousy. Instead of attack, it is better to strive to improve one’s own methods to reach a higher level of success.
Changing Vocal Terminology
I am guilty of this one myself! I call the Messa di Voce exercise (which is an old Italian exercise) the Transcending Tone exercise. The name stuck, ha-ha, so I continue to use it, but point out the true name. Still, I’ve read some articles where coaches have turned singing into a science where I felt like I needed a degree just to repeat their words. Here’s how I feel about it. If a dictionary of terms is helping your students, more power to you. Who am I to challenge another coach on their approach to vocal training. If they are getting result, that is what counts. After all, I am not a Master Vocal Coach, nor would knowing 414 vocal terms make me a Master Vocal Coach. Still, I am sure I can learn something useful from all of it. But, personally, I’m a very visual coach and I prefer to keep it simple, to focus on exercises and the physical sensations that accompany them, using visual guides when necessary. I don’t personally feel that explaining the internal workings of the muscles surrounding the vocal cords is of benefit in my particular approach to voice strengthening. BUT, many students are very analytical, not so visual, and can benefit from these terms. So, I can see swapping new terms for old terms, even explaining physical vocal mechanics can be interesting an useful to many students. Considering I am probably the dumbest vocal coach you’ll ever meet, I’d just confuse myself if I tried to turn a voice lesson into a science lesson, ha-ha. Regardless, as long as a coach is using terminology to better a student, and it truly helps, and not using terminology to appear smarter, then use what works for the student.
Claims of a Superior Vocal Method
Rubbish. I don’t have a superior vocal method, he doesn’t have a superior vocal method, she doesn’t have a superior vocal method, using certain exercises doesn’t make it a superior vocal method, changing the frequency of your piano doesn’t make it a superior vocal method, period! We are physical instruments and just as there are a zillions of ways to build up the chest or to get six-pack abs, there are different ways to train the voice. I’ve chosen the way that works for me and has worked for countless students. There are many vocal coaches who have even more students than I do, who are getting great results with their approach. So, if the student is reaping the benefits, why attack another teaching style if it IS working for a particular singer? There is no reason save maybe jealousy. Let’s do the math again: millions of singers divided by thousands of vocal coaches equals more than enough students to go around equals absolutely no need for jealousy.
If I were a Master Vocal coach, which I will never be, then shouldn’t I know ANY and ALL vocal methods? In my mind, to become a true master, you must know all infinite possibilities in order to obtain vocal nirvana and share it with all singers equally. Now, I do believe one could master there approach to coaching, to thoroughly understand their approach to training. But, for me, that just isn’t happening for me in this lifetime, ha-ha. My method is NOT superior to others and I’ve yet to learn all there is in my own ay of teaching. Although I’ve written over a dozen books on voice, released videos and audio training programs, finally release my TUNED XD vocal training app, and even started my online vocal school, the Vendera Vocal Academy, it is still just one vocal method that I am understanding more and more every day. Yet, it is still not superior to others; many may call it unique, but I would never claim it to be superior.
FYI- all my efforts, my school, my books, etc., they are simply products of my continual learning in an attempt to become a Master Vocal Coach. But, in the end, I think the term “Master Vocal Coach” was just something someone made up years and years ago as a title to separate one from the norm. Master Guitar Instructor, Master Drum Technician, master Vocal Coach…I’ve yet to hear Master Auto Mechanic, Master Customer Service Rep, Master Insurance Salesman. Wait, I have heard of a Master Chef, hahaha. Now, I know many people went to college to get their Masters, I even went to college to study voice. So, one could have a Masters in voice, but for me, “Master Vocal Coach” is a title I just do not want pinned to my name, and if you find it out there anywhere on the Internet, even on my site, PLEASE let me know, so I can have it removed, or fire one of my team for tacking it onto my name, ha-ha…Don’t worry, I won’t fire them, I’m just not that mean.
In the end, I am not attacking any vocal coach or any chef for that matter, that goes by Master Vocal Coach or Master Chef, as it is an accepted term that has been around for a long, long time. But, I am still hungry for knowledge, I’m still on my vocal journey, and I feel I have not earned that title, nor do I want to earn that title, because I like this journey and I plan to continue striving to reach beyond what I have learned thus far on my own vocal journey for the rest of my life.