Being a Singer

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Working with a teacher

Selecting a Singing Teacher

  • If you want to sing contemporary, go to a contemporary teacher. If you want to do classical, go to a classical teacher. The two techniques are similar but differ in critical aspects. You will not get a great contemporary sound if you go to a classical teacher, and vice-versa.

  • Some (many) classical teachers will consider anything that is not classical singing as negligible, often even as 'harmful'. This is absolutely not true. No doubt there are charlatans in the world and we need to examine what we are getting from any teacher. But under the guidance of a skillful teacher, the skill level of a good contemporary singer is fully equal to that of a classical singer, and the stylistic demands are perhaps even more onerous. And all achievable with a healthy voice that will not only last, but will improve over a lifetime.

  • A good teacher will be able to explain the process of voice production, and will be able to train you to produce the singing voice. This is a powerful and seamless voice that is produced when we create the proper conditions in the vocal tract.  

  • On a more advanced level, the teacher will guide you into different stylisations of the voice, to create the sound that works with your voice and your material.

  • Depending on your singing goals, you may need guidance in performance or recording studio skills, career management or specialist areas like choral singing. You may be able to get these topics from your voice teacher. Alternatively there are many courses on offer dealing with these additional issues.

  • If you are planning to take a Vocal Performance course or similar, you should assess your own vocal needs and first see a private voice teacher, so that you have no vocal issues when it comes to performance.


Over the years, various singing schools - i.e. methods of training & singing - have existed within singing.

Historical Overview:

  • Bel Canto

  • Ventricular Resonance

  • Estil (Voicecraft)

  • SLS

Over the past decade there has been a sharp rise in the standard of singing within the contemporary music industry. Singers at all levels are showing off increasingly schooled voices with great mobility and powerful upper registers. Up to the last decade or so of the 20th Century, singers were trained either by classical teachers, pop coaches, or at drama schools. Classical teachers are very good but their techniques are quite specific to their style, although very close to what we do in contemporary voice.

The Musical Theatre singers learned a lot of theatrical stylings, which were not great for anything outside the shows. Pop coaches are very often under enormous pressure to produce results in the studio, and are highly skilled in style coaching rather than in the mechanics of longer term vocal development work.

However among the pop-coaches there have been several major figures such as Seth Riggs - who trained Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Annie Lennox and countless others - who have done enormously valuable work in defining a methodology and standard for the teaching of contemporary voice.

This section of the book brings together strands from the work of Mr Riggs, Brett Manning and others as well as elements from both Bel Canto and the old school Musical theatre style. What we take from Bel Canto What we learn about styling from the theatre singers: sob, twang, woof and more