Guide to finding a singing teacher

If you have a passion for music and have decided to learn to sing, or want to take your singing to the next level, you may be wondering what options are available to you and what considerations to make when making these important decisions.

At Encore Musicians, we have the largest selection of musicians and teachers across the UK (as well as all being musicians ourselves) and we’re here to help answer some of these important questions and help find the perfect singing tuition for you!

Read on to find out when and where you or your children could have singing lessons, which level of teacher would be a good fit, how to understand what style of teacher would be best for you and the credentials to look out for.

We all know from our own childhoods how transformational the right teacher can be, so let us help you find the perfect match.

Teacher credentials

Qualifications

Most teachers have studied music from a young age, but there are various training levels for music teachers in the UK. You can expect that the majority of music teachers will have a degree, but not all of them will.

Music educators should also have a good understanding of music theory, as this forms a part of all accredited qualifications in music from the very beginning.

Formal qualifications in the UK begin with the graded exams you can take as a student from boards such as ABRSM or Trinity College London which generally go up from grade 1 to grade 8.

After grade 8, a musician may take further qualifications called ‘performance diplomas’. For example with Trinity College London you can take the following exams:

ATCL (associate): equivalent to one year of an undergraduate degree
LTCL (licentiate): equivalent to the final year of an undergraduate degree
FTCL (fellowship): equivalent to a postgraduate course or conservatoire degree

  • Music college / conservatoire
  • University (BMus or similar)

The main difference is that the university course is likely to place a much higher weighting on academic learning around music compared with the performance focus you’ll see at a conservatoire or music college.

If you are very interested in learning about the musical history of the baroque arias you’d like to learn, then you may find the university educated teacher a better fit.

There are also specific university courses for teaching and education, so somebody with this type of degree is likely to have a greater sensitivity to the art of teaching their instrument, as well as the same proficiency in playing the instrument that you’ll find across all of the other degrees and qualifications.

These qualifications are typical for classical singers, but if you’re interested in styles of singing such as pop or musical theatre, then you may put a heavier weighting on the professional experience of that person (have they performed with artists you like? Or have they taken part in professional productions, for example).

There is no one perfect level of credentials for the teacher best suited to you, but you may want to factor in these various training paths to ensure you have somebody sufficiently experienced in singing, but also a great sensitivity to teaching which is best gained through years of experience.

Testimonials

There is no better way of judging a teacher’s effectiveness than hearing about them from another pupil or getting a recommendation. So on Encore you have access to as many reviews and testimonials as possible from former and current students of each teacher so you can get a flavour for what they do well, how their personality may match with yours and understand what makes them a great teacher.

Security

Aside from reading testimonials from other students, learning of their credentials and chatting to the Encore team about the teacher who we have vetted and approved, you may also want to ensure the teacher has a DBS check. This is especially important if the teacher will be working with any children in particular.

A DBS check is a combination of the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) and the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) which came together to become the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). It essentially ensures that unsuitable people aren’t working with any vulnerable groups, including children and will give you peace of mind for you or your children.

All DBS certificates are verified by the Encore team so you can see clearly on our teacher profiles which teachers have been DBS checked.

Choosing the right teacher

As we touched upon earlier, each teacher will have their own unique style, so there are a few things you may want to check before embarking on your first lesson.

Age

When we surveyed students, we often found that they preferred learning with somebody of a similar age to them, particularly in adults. There will also be teachers who specialise in either teaching children or teaching adults, so this is worth bearing in mind when deciding who you’d like to select.

A student who is beginning from scratch as an adult has very different needs to a younger student starting out, or indeed an adult who has already trained professionally and is looking to further improve.

Level

Some teachers may specify their teaching level (for example up to grade 5, or up to grade 8). You may like to assess which stage you are at and what level you would like your teacher to be able to accommodate. Similarly, for a student who has already had significant training, you will need to look for a teacher regularly working with professional singers and musicians to ensure they can advance your technique sufficiently.

Voice type and style

While it may be true that any teacher (male or female) can teach you to sing well, there may come a point in your vocal career where you find it helpful to work with a teacher who thoroughly understands your voice type.

  • Soprano
  • Alto
  • Tenor
  • Bass

These can be further broken down into the style of singing that you do (i.e., lyrical soprano, operatic soprano, etc.).

Aside from classical music, there are a huge range of musical styles that you may be looking to learn through singing. In these other styles of singing, you may be best differentiated by your range (the lowest and highest notes you can reach) and in musical theatre, how high your ‘belting range’ is.

These are worth pointing out to future teachers, and looking out for in the information about what they specialise in. If you’re hoping to learn how to sing your favourite pop hits really well, a classical singing teacher is unlikely to be a good fit, and vice versa.

  • Classical singing teachers
  • Operatic singing teachers
  • Pop singing teachers
  • Vocal coaches
  • Musical theatre teachers
  • Jazz singing teachers

Your goals

Do you hope to do graded exams? Aim towards a performance opportunity? Learn simply for fun and your own enjoyment?

These are all questions to ask yourself and to check with your prospective teacher. Some teachers will prefer a more formal process of learning and working towards an exam, however, they can tailor their approach depending on what your personal goals are to make sure they are aligned and that the experience has the right balance of progress and enjoyment for you.

Arranging your first lesson

The simplest way to find a fantastic singing teacher suited to your needs is to enquire with us at Encore Musicians. We have the biggest supply of music teachers across the country and are musicians ourselves, so we’re best placed to find a well suited teacher close by and in your budget.