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.
Starting your search
When forming a new habit or trying out a new hobby, you are more likely to stick with it and succeed if the lessons are close to you and fit in easily with your routine. We would always advise that music lessons take place at a location near both the student and the teacher.
Most music teachers will either have a radius they are happy to travel within to teach, or will be able to offer their own home or studio for the lessons. At Encore, we would always aim to match you with an appropriate vocal teacher who is within close proximity to where you live or work.
Teachers who offer children’s singing lessons may also have the option of coming to your school, or offer after school slots at their home or yours.
Depending on your level of singing, you may require more of a specialist teacher who isn't available nearby. For example, if you’ve studied at a conservatoire or music college and have a particular voice type, you may need a more specialised teacher. In this instance, there may be a little travel involved. Alternatively, some teachers do offer Skype consultations which can work well where meeting in person isn’t possible.
In-person lessons are always preferable where possible, because you build a real rapport with your teacher and most importantly, they’ll be able to see very clearly your singing technique, breathing, and posture, which are all important factors when teaching somebody to sing well.
You may also be considering a group class, as opposed to private singing lessons. But, while a group class can be a fantastic way of building a network, gaining confidence and learning some great harmonies, if you would like to ensure you are singing well and with good vocal technique, we would highly recommend private singing lessons.
There may be hundreds of singing tutors near you, but if you aren’t available on the same evenings, then that isn’t of much use to either of you.
Most teachers do the majority of their lessons in the early evening, after work and school, so if you did have availability in the day time, this could be a real bonus as they are more likely to be available. Some peripatetic teachers will have certain school visits during the days when they teach students during school hours to teach or run singing classes, so there may be slots around this that could work well for you.
The most helpful tip we can advise is to be upfront about your availability at the beginning of the process, to avoid disappointment later on if you and your dream teacher’s diaries don’t align.
You may like to consider the facilities available for your lessons. Unlike piano lessons, there isn’t a physical instrument that you will need in order to sing, however it can be very helpful to have a piano or keyboard available in order for the teacher to accompany you, or play your starting notes for the songs.
If teaching from home, music teachers are likely to have their own piano or keyboard, so you may prefer to be taught from their home or studio in order to take advantage of this if you don’t have one. Some teachers may also have the use of a school or other facility nearby where they base themselves to take advantage of the music rooms and equipment which would be useful.
In general, for vocal lessons, the only equipment required is a piano or keyboard and microphone with small amp (if learning a particular style such as pop singing).
We’ve done a comprehensive survey of hundreds of musicians and the average price for music teachers across the UK comes in just above £30 per hour, although there are particular instruments which tend to be more expensive, such as the harp.
You can also find the prices will vary depending on location; for example, in London prices may be a little higher than average.
The experience and credentials of the teacher is also likely to increase the cost of the lessons over time. A young teacher who may have recently graduated from a music college and has just begun teaching full time is likely to cost under £30, whereas a teacher who has been working professionally for over 10 years is likely to cost a little over £30.
We have seen a trend in our research that the teachers who usually work the longest with their pupils (indicating that the lessons are going very well!) tend to charge over £30.
It can, therefore, be sensible to choose an experienced teacher, even if they may cost slightly more for the lessons, as you know you’ll have a fantastic experience and be with them for the long haul! To be sure you have chosen a sufficiently experienced and qualified teacher, read on to learn more about their credentials.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.