singing coach

Singing Coach vs. Voice Teacher: What’s the Difference?

Singing Coach vs. Voice Teacher: What’s the Difference?

For a long time there has been a debate within the music community about the difference between the terms “singing coach” and “voice teacher“. The debate is centered around the use of the word “coach”, versus “teacher”.

People use both these terms to refer to professionals who help singers, but the question remains the same. What’s the difference between a “vocal coach” and a “singing teacher” when it comes to singing?

“Coach” vs “Teach”

To the general public, the terms “singing coach” and “singing teacher” are often thought to be synonymous. However, the difference lies within the use of the verb “coach” rather than “teach“. Generally speaking, a singing coach is someone who “coaches” singing while a voice teacher “teaches” singing.

singing coach

If this difference seems small and confusing, you’re not alone. There are also lots of teachers who use the term “vocal coach” and “voice teacher” interchangeably. This adds to the confusion. While there are some who do both, there are a few basic differences between a coach and a teacher we should discuss.

Voice Teacher

The term “voice teacher” is most often used to refer to a teacher that has been educated in and instructs vocal pedagogy. They teach the technique of singing.

The singing teacher is one who is able to guide a student, from a beginner to a seasoned pro, toward better singing. It doesn’t matter what level the student is at, good vocal technique and a healthy singing voice is the goal.

singing coach

There are many different vocal techniques dedicated to creating beautiful voices. And teachers may be educated at a university, or posses a voice teacher certification.

However, it is the voice teacher’s ability to develop the singing voice that distinguishes them from the “vocal coach”.

Vocal Coach

Like the name suggests, a “singing coach” is a professional whose job is to “coach” a singer’s voice. Often, the term “vocal coach” is a blanket term used by anyone who improves the performance of their student. While a vocal coach may also use the title “voice teacher”, they may not possess the same level of education.

It would be odd, as an example, for a music professor at a university to call themselves a “vocal coach”, even if they teach private lessons.

singing coach

A vocal coach’s job rests on the assumption that a student is already able to sing well and just needs coaching in order to achieve a goal. Some students who seek a vocal coach may be preparing for an audition or are studying a character for a performance.

So while a voice teacher is able to instruct a student of any level, the singing coach must meet the student where they’re at and work primarily on improving the performance of a singer.

In addition to coaching a performance, a vocal coach may also focus on stage movement, “acting” a song, honing vocal style or many other subjects related to the voice. But they may not teach singing.


In the music industry, singing coaches and voice teachers perform many of the same functions and may even be performed by the same person. After all, both professionals’ jobs are designed to improve the singer to achieve a goal.

At the Octave Higher East Voice Studio, I rely on my education as a voice teacher to develop the singing voices of my students. However, there are times I will also “coach” my students when they are preparing for a performance.

Voice Lessons in Austin

Of course, perfect vocal technique never survives impact with performance, so it’s incredibly important to be able to switch to the role of a vocal coach when needed. Many voice teachers are versatile enough to do both jobs.

A “singing coach”, on the other hand, may lack the foundation of singing technique necessary to help their students become better singers. But once the student’s voice has developed enough, a singing coach is absolutely essential for a serious performer.

Singing Coaches vs Voice Teachers: Side by Side

Voice Teachers:

  • Can develop a voice at any level
  • Are often certified
  • Are educated in vocal technique
  • Focus on building the voice first

Singing Coaches:

  • Develop the performance of an already functional singer
  • May or may not be certified
  • May or may not be educated in vocal technique
  • Focus on the end product of a performance

A Few Things to Note

While the terms may be used interchangeably, the difference between a singing coach and a voice teacher is that a voice teacher can “teach” singing. Whereas a singing coach can only “coach” someone who already sings.

If you’re a serious performer, it’s important that you find a professional who is able to wear both hats. Both vocal technique and coaching are essential for a singer. However good vocal technique should be the foundation.

Even if you already have a good voice, a qualified voice teacher will help you further develop your voice. And a vocal coach will ensure you’re ready to perform.

To begin vocal training or prepare for an upcoming performance, consider booking a trial free voice lesson.


Communication for Voice Teachers

Communication for Voice Teachers

Communication is the act of transferring information from one place to another.

With a subject like singing in which the instrument is one that you can’t easily see or touch, vocal coaches need to be excellent communicators. Especially when teaching beginning singers, a singing teacher needs to be especially careful to communicate the goal of the current training and the plan they will use to achieve it with the student.

And while it may seem silly to think of communication being a requirement for a good voice teacher, remember that singing is the art of communicating lyrics beautifully. And a voice teacher should exemplify that, even in their words.

The Vocal Coach Tool Belt

Voice teachers use many different tools to teach singing lessons.


Vowels, consonants, and scale patterns are just a few of the tools that a singing teacher will use to instruct a student. But one of the most powerful tools in the teacher’s disposal is their own voice to communicate.

While vowels and consonants are used as tools to transfer experiences (such as an “ooh” vowel, which will drive more head voice), the singing teacher’s voice is used to transfer knowledge and demonstrate a desired sound.

Perhaps most important is the ability of the teacher to give feedback regarding what the student is singing.


This feedback loop between student and teacher allows them to ascribe a judgement to what the student has done. It’s very important for a student to know whether they performed the exercise well or not. Positive reinforcement is especially powerful in this feedback loop because what a student feels when they sing and what they actually sound like is often different.

3 Mediums of Communication

Voice teachers use 3 main mediums to instruct their singing students.

They are:

  1. Words – What the teacher says. It could be a direction such as “Sing that note on ‘Gee'” or a description of what they heard like “Yes, I noticed that was more on pitch”.
  2. Demonstration – The teacher uses their own voice to demonstrate the desired sound.
  3. Tools – The teacher prescribes an exercise designed to cause the singer to experience an intended result, such as a scale and vowel/consonant combination.

Singing Lessons Austin

We can break down these mediums of communication even more by listing the 3 ways a voice teacher can communicate.

They are:

  1. Direct – Asking the student to do something.
  2. Describe – Elaborating on a concept.
  3. Demonstrate – Using their own voice to teach by example.

A Few Things to Note

The forms of communication voice teachers use are only effective as long as what they are asking is directly under the student’s control. If they are not, the teacher should find another way to create the desired experience in the singer.

It would be confusing to ask a student to “sing into the mask” or “place the tone in their head” unless they already knew how to do it.

Instead, good voice teachers rely on cause and effect communication. While we often think of cause and effect as a negative, it can be a very positive tool in teaching someone to sing.

Cause and Effect Communication

Cause and effect is a style of communication in which a teacher will direct the student to sing in a way that causes the desired effect. That way the student experiences the result with minimal confusion. Cause and effect also allows them to describe the feeling on their own terms.


For example, if we have a soprano that is having a difficult time singing a G5 with a full head voice, the teacher can ask her to sing the note on a “Mum” exercise.

From the teacher’s perspective, the “m” is a bilabial consonant that provides resistance to the air while the “uh” vowel drives more chest voice. This could conceivably help the student hit the G5 with a fuller head voice than before.

But all the singer knows is that they are able to hit the G5 more fully that they were before. They can then describe it in terms that make sense to them.

If the teacher instructed the student to sing the G5 “into the mask” however, it would be up to the student to interpret what that direction means. Whereas asking the student to sing the note on “Mum” is much more straightforward.


If descriptive language is used too much as a method of directing the student, confusion can result.

The Goal of All Vocal Training

By it’s very nature communication is an incredibly important aspect of how a vocal coach teaches their students. It can be painful to remember, but the goal of all vocal training is allowing the student to develop the independence they need so they no longer need us.

One of the most important aspects of developing independence as a singer is understanding how their voice works in their own terms. Good communication between the teacher and student is the key to developing this understanding.

voice lessons cost

How Much Do Voice Lessons Cost in Austin, TX?

How Much Do Voice Lessons Cost?

Knowing how much voice lessons cost is an important aspect of your research into vocal training. But in Austin, there are so many voice teachers that it’s difficult to get an idea of how much singing lessons cost.

The problem is not all teachers are listed in a single database like So you’re often looking at a teacher’s website wondering whether you’re going to get a good value for your money.

There are even some teachers that don’t list a cost for singing lessons or provide a singing lessons price list.

To simplify things, I’d like to share some research I’ve done into how much singing lessons cost in Austin, TX. Then we can discuss if it’s worth it to you to begin training.

How much are singing lessons?

Normally, the cost of voice lessons is based on a flat fee for an increment of time with the teacher. The flat fee is then built into the cost of singing lessons.

voice lessons cost

Voice lessons are normally priced in 30-minute, 45-minute and 60-minute increments. Occasionally, lessons are shorter or longer but the vast majority fall within the 30-60 minute range.

Singing Lessons Cost Per Hour

If we compare an hourly rate across the board, I have seen music lessons prices in Austin as low as $60/hr and as high as $125/hr depending on the teacher.

This range accounts for private music lesson prices only. Group classes, which are often cheaper, are not included.

That means that if we average this range, voice teachers in Austin charge an average of $92.50/hr. That’s more than $1.50 a minute!

Are Voice Lessons Worth the Cost?

Now, before you pass out from sticker shock, it’s important to remember that these prices range depending on the teacher. In my experience, a teacher’s price for a voice lesson correlates to the amount of experience and education they have.

voice lessons cost

Like with anything else, sometimes the more expensive the teacher, the higher quality the voice lesson.

I personally have had some voice lessons cost $200/hr and I felt that they were totally worth it!

The truth is some teachers really know how to get you singing your best and make an hour lesson fly. I’ve taken other lessons where I’m just watching the clock waiting to leave.

It’s all about value!

The Most Important Factor in What Voice Lessons Cost

It can be very easy to get caught up in the dollar signs and trying to find the cheapest teacher that you miss out on the most important factor in the price of singing lessons: value.

Singing Lessons Austin

You should always feel the singing teacher has your best interest at heart and is delivering a good value. We all have our days, but even when a teacher isn’t at their best, you shouldn’t feel you’re wasting your time.

Factor Time into Your Budget for Singing Lessons

The other reason it’s important to find singing lesson prices that fit your budget is that you want to make sure you can commit a certain amount of time to developing your voice.

For a beginning singer, private voice lessons are the best way to learn to sing. But first and foremost, the most important aspect of your vocal training is that it’s consistent and practiced regularly. But if you’re taking out a second mortgage on your house or selling your car to afford voice lessons (it’s happened!), it’s only a matter of time before you have to call it quits.

voice lessons cost

The same is also true for the pro or seasoned singer. While they have already spent a lot of time developing their voice, a more experienced singing teacher will be able to consistently challenge and prepare them for the demands of the road or recording.

The bottom line is: no matter how big your dreams are, you should never put your financial future or plans at risk to take voice lessons you can’t afford. Most of the time, it’s better to get started by listening to great singers and learning some of the basic concepts of singing than take 2 lessons then quit.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Remember, the voice is an instrument that always takes time to develop, so it’s important that you feel that the cost of singing lessons is something you can afford for a while. At the end of the day, you want to make sure there‚Äôs enough in your budget that you can relax and enjoy the process.

That’s what voice lessons are for. Enjoying singing! The less you’re able to worry about the financial aspect the better.

voice lessons cost

I’ve also done some research on the best voice teachers in Austin. I hope you find it helpful. If you’d like to get started with singing lessons at Octave Higher East, you can book a trial free voice lesson so we can start setting goals together for your future.


singing lessons work

Do Singing Lessons Work? | Octave Higher TV E54

Do Singing Lessons Work?

A very common question new students ask is: do singing lessons work?

Of course, as a voice teacher, I think that voice lessons are worth it for anyone who is looking to improve their voice. But while many voice teachers will tell you that singing lessons work (especially lessons with them), I can only speak from my own experience.

The truth is it’s very difficult to illustrate how singing lessons work in a concrete way. There are very few before and after shots of the teachers that tell you that singing lessons are necessary. So I wanted to share my own journey of how singing lessons helped my voice.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve also included some recordings from before I took lessons so that I can share a bit about how singing lessons have helped me. I hope you can learn from them and we can have some fun critiquing my voice before and after singing lessons.

Are Singing Lessons Necessary?

I’d like to start by saying that singing lessons are not necessary for everyone that sings. There are many folks out there that sing perfectly well on their own, provided that they’re not singing 350 days a year like many professionals.

For many of us, singing lessons are a fun way to improve a skill that we love: singing. In voice lessons, we’re getting in touch with our bodies, our own sounds and singing with our favorite music.

But for others with more ambitious goals such as touring, recording, getting paid gigs, voice lessons may be a lifesaver.

singing lessons work

That’s because the voice is a complex instrument. It’s flesh and blood. It’s also one of the few instruments that you can’t see or touch yourself to diagnose what’s wrong. For those that are making their living using their voice, singing lessons are just as much about maintaining their instrument as learning how to use it.

There are tons of singers that badly need some voice lessons in order to prevent themselves from the harm of overuse and misuse. And even though I wasn’t on a world tour, or making tons of money from my music, I was one of those singers.

Do Voice Lessons Help?

It was nearly 10 years ago that I was living in San Francisco, CA. I would wake up early each morning to run to the train station and grab a spot on the floor by the escalators. Setting my guitar case down, I looked around nervously hoping that nobody would yell at me that day.

Then I would pick up my guitar, take a quick look at my set list of 20 songs, and begin to sing and play to the rush hour commuters as they headed onto trains downtown.

singing lessons work

During the morning rush, I would look into the crowd and see people smiling. Some recognized the songs I was playing and tip me.

The Problem

Most of the time, I would sing in the train station until my voice gave out. Typically this was about 2 hours of non-stop singing or until I had run through every song that I knew twice. Or sometimes until there was nobody left.

And while there were many people who loved what I did, the truth was that I wasn’t a very good singer. I was absolutely in love with Radiohead, Jeff Buckley and Elliott Smith, all of whom sang very high.

So in general, I would sing at the top of my range until it broke. If that failed I would try to belt out the notes as best I could.

But at the end of the morning, I was sick of playing songs that everyone loved only to ruin the money notes.

singing lessons workAnd no matter how hard I tried to hide it, I had to admit to myself that I needed help.

Around this same time, I was also writing and recording my own songs each day. My hope was that I would be able to “break through” the vocal wall that I had hit and join the great singers of my generation.

But the hard part of recording is having to listen to yourself.

And I wasn’t sounding that great.

Getting Singing Lessons Help

After months of this, I started doing tons of research on whether voice lessons really help singers. I was amazed at how many people were satisfied with their progress. Some people wrote great reviews for their teachers and claimed they had never sung better.

But was that really possible? Do singing lessons really work?

singing lessons work

I had to find out. So I booked a free trial voice lesson with a local voice teacher and we got to work. Within 10 minutes, he had immediately diagnosed my vocal issues and was helping me fix them.

Then we started working on some songs that I wrote and I couldn’t believe how much the exercises he gave me helped.

What Do Voice Lessons Teach You?

I look back at those first few lessons and think about how far I’ve come.

It’s almost unimaginable to me that I had such a hard time with those high notes. While hitting them perfectly can vary day by day, I never worry about whether I have those notes in my range. They’re always there thanks to my amazing voice teachers.

For me, voice lessons are absolutely worth it. And now as a teacher I can tell you that singing lessons really helped me improve my pitch and tone, find a mixed voice and expand my range.

Can Singing Lessons Work for You?


While everyone starts at a different level of skill and talent, some of the skills you get in voice lessons are applicable to everyone.

Learning to coordinate the muscles that make singing work has a lasting effect on your voice.

What to Expect from Singing Lessons

Here’s a short list of some of the things you should expect from taking voice lessons.

  • Improved pitch and tone
  • Knowledge of your range
  • A stronger mix (that is, the blend of chest and head voice)
  • A real understanding of what your voice is and can do

In my experience, when a singer is first starting to take voice lessons, the first thing they notice that improves is their pitch, tone and volume. Many of my students remark at how easy singing feels after a few lessons.

Soon after they begin, we start to discuss range and how we can start to expand and grow a singer’s ability to hit higher notes as well as lower notes.

While expanding the range is very important, one of the most important things for my voice has been learning to sing in a mix. A mix is the ability to sing from the bottom to the top of your voice without straining or breaking. This was possibly one of the biggest benefits to taking singing lessons.

singing lessons work

It meant I was no longer butchering the money notes in people’s favorite songs. And I was grateful. No longer was I asking “do singing lessons work?”. I knew they did.

One of the things that I’m still developing in my voice lessons is an awareness of what my voice does naturally. This may sound vague but I’m still learning to sing in my own voice. This is totally natural and takes a lifetime to practice. But it is still one of the most evergreen skills that I have grown in singing lessons.

A Few Notes About Singing Lessons

While singing lessons work for everyone, sometimes a person needs to take a break from lessons in order to fully understand the benefit they receive from them. But more often, an untrained singer needs to hit their vocal wall in order to admit that they need help (like I did).

If you feel that you’ve hit your vocal wall, consider booking a trial free voice lesson at the studio and we’ll see what’s missing. I’m so grateful to be able to share my experience and teach singing lessons to others.

Online singing lessons

Online Singing Lessons vs Private Voice Lessons: Which is Best?

Online Singing Lessons vs Private Singing Lessons

One of the most amazing things about the technology revolution is the ability for anyone anywhere to take online singing lessons. In terms of private voice lessons, Skype has made it so you don’t have to take private voice lessons near you. Actually, anyone with an internet connection can take a private singing lessons with the teacher of their choice.

online voice lessons

In addition to private voice lessons, another group of online singing lessons has appeared in the form of online singing classes or online singing courses.

But what’s the difference between one-on-one singing lessons and a free online singing course? And what are the pros and cons of each? Let’s examine the difference between them.

Online Singing Lessons

When I was first getting started with singing lessons, I did a lot of research on the best ways to sing. Around this time I felt my voice had hit a “wall”. There were certain notes I always sang in falsetto which was very disappointing because I was writing my own songs. I wanted to find the best way of learning to sing better and put what I learned into my own songs.

online singing lessons

The first thing that I did (maybe like yourself) was search for online voice lessons, preferably free. That’s when I found that there were a TON of free online voice lessons on Youtube and other blogs.

So I would watch the video, analyze the singer and the exercise he was asking me to do and I would try to sing the same way. This is how I first learned some of the most popular exercises to increase my vocal range.

But I knew that I was missing something. I would perform the exercises ritually, but I still felt that I had no direction. I would click through tons of videos but I didn’t feel there was ONE clear goal or a plan to get there.

Around this time, I started searching for a local voice teacher that could tell me exactly what I was missing. Soon, after moving to Austin, TX, I found the best voice teacher for my learning style. He even advocated that I perform MORE.

During our first 30-minute lesson together, my teacher was able to find ALL my vocal weaknesses and give me exercises that immediately improved them. It was nothing short of a revelation.

Private Voice Lessons

One of the greatest things that I got from my first lessons with a private voice teacher was a clear sense of direction to work towards. I can’t overstate how important this simple concept is. When I was following online singing tips, I would be able to do the exercise, but there was no context or end goal that I was aware of. However in my one-on-one voice lessons, I could see the goal and we set a plan to achieve it together.


The other huge advantage to taking one-on-one singing lessons was that the teacher was able to give me feedback immediately upon doing something incorrect. With online lessons, there is no ability for the teacher to respond directly to your execution of the exercise. The importance of feedback cannot be overestimated.

Even today, when there are tons of singing apps which can measure your pitch and tell you if you’re singing out of tune, that same app won’t be able to tell you WHY you’re singing flat, and certainly not HOW to avoid doing this in the future.

online singing lessons

Looking back on my experiences with online singing lessons, I can say they certainly helped me get started. I believe that ANY vocal exercise is probably superior to NO exercise for a beginner. However, once you have a little bit of singing knowledge and are trying to accomplish clear goals (even if they change in time), there is no substitute for in-person singing lessons.

Summary of Online Singing Lessons and Private Voice Lessons

Let’s recap some of the pros and cons to online singing lessons versus in-person voice lessons.

Online Singing Lessons


  • Easy to find lots of info on demand
  • Affordable (or free)
  • Convenient


  • One size fits all approach
  • No individual feedback
  • Inconsistent information from different teachers

Private Voice Lessons


  • Lesson goals and plans tailored to your voice
  • Relationship with a mentor/teacher
  • Quickest way to train your unique voice


  • More expensive
  • Need to travel (even if they’re local)
  • Need to work with the teacher’s schedule

A Few Things to Note

I think it’s important to start your vocal instruction by studying online singing lessons. The fact that you’re interested in developing your singing voice is marvelous in and of itself. When looking at online singing lessons, try to find a course or class that is instructed by a teacher who is certified. It’s also important they have an attractive vocal style. You may be able to go a long way just by imitating the instructor.

Once you’ve spent some time developing your voice with online instruction, consider taking a private voice lesson. This way, you can see if a live singing teacher is able to help you overcome the issues you’ve been struggling with.

In the end, online singing classes are a great tool to get you to the next level. Just be aware that at a certain point, you should expect to outgrow online voice lessons and you may need personalized feedback in order to continue advancing.

Consider taking a trial free voice lesson to get started with private voice lessons.