Canadian Musician - September/October 2017 - Page 32

VOCALS Micah Barnes is a singer, songwriter, and vocal and performance coach. He travels between Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles on a regular basis to work with clients and also offers private sessions online. His Singers Playground performance workshops, which he developed at The Highways Performing Arts University in Santa Monica, CA, have helped thousands of artists deepen their skill sets as performers on both sides of the border. By Micah Barnes 5 Things to Consider when Seeking a Vocal Coach T he singer’s relationship with a coach is a potentially life changing one. It’s not just about getting better at hitting your high notes. A good voice coach works with a singer on their most inti- mate fears and deepest challenges, digging down into the places we are scared to go on our own, so it’s very important that we be able to put our absolute trust in our coach. Where Do I Find A Vocal Coach? The best approach is to ask other singers whom they have benefitted most from working with, keeping in mind that not all singers are looking for the same thing from a coach. Sometimes the most established or well-known coach isn’t nec- essarily the perfect coach for your needs. I would stay away from coaches who promise immediate results and start by reaching out to the coaches whose reputations are rock solid within the music industry. How Will I Know if a Coach Is Right for Me? Ask them a ton of questions! There are just as many different kinds of coaches as there are singers! I highly recommend “shopping” for the right coach for your needs. There are some coaches who teach a specific vocal technique, or who are more knowl- edgable about a certain style of music. Although reputable coaches can usually handle most issues that singers need support on, every coach has a specialty or two. You’ll want to know if it’s a good fit before booking a batch of sessions in advance. It’s always best that you start by having a real con- versation, either on the phone or in person, so you can get a feel for their personality and get a sense of their focus, and then I would recommend booking a single session and seeing how it goes. 32 • C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N When Should I Actually Be Working with a Coach? The answer is long before you think you need to! The challenging thing about being a voice coach is that we usually meet a new singer when they are crazily stressed about an upcoming perfor- mance or recording session, vocally exhausted from singing with bad technique, or under a lot of pressure from their manager, agent, label, or financial backers to make some kind of change in their vocal approach. Any experienced coach worth the money should be able to make a no- ticeable difference in a short period of time; how- ever, the best coaching (and learning) happens slowly and over time, so this kind of “emergency” is not the ideal circumstance to make a lasting change to a singer’s technique. In my experience, it’s the singers who come to work with a coach many months in advance of a new tour or re- cording or showcase opportunity that are able to go the deepest and benefit the most. Besides, most of us learn best when there is a little bit of breathing room in the schedule. What Should I Be Working on with a Coach? If you are experiencing vocal exhaustion, then more than likely your technique is not support- ing you properly. Working with a coach to bring your technique into sharper focus is usually the first order of business. Proper breathing, voice production, vocal placement, physical tension, proper warm-up – there is no end to what we can be working on when it comes to deepen- ing our singing technique. Sometimes we need support on our live performances and want to work on our material selection, finding the right keys and songs that best suit our voice. Some coaches have more experience dealing with the issues of the “working professional singer” than others. The key is to be sure that your coach has a good grasp of the area of ͥѡЁԁɔ)Ѽ锁5ͥՑ)她Ѽ͔ѡݽɭ)ѕɥѡЁ́ͥѡȁɕѕȴ)и݅́ȁݸѥ́ٔ́)ݽɬѽ݅ɑ́ɕȁչхݡ)ե́ԁȁ屔Є)]Ё$%ӊéЁ]ɭ=)Mѥ́ͥȁeЁȴ)ͽݥ͔ͽѥ́ݔeЁ)хݥѠéѕѡ̰)ͽѥ́ݔͥ䁅ɕeЁ͕ѡɕձ)ѡЁݔݕɔȸ ɔѽѥ)ѡ$ݽձ՝ЁѡЁٕ)ͥȁхЁݡѡȁѡ䁡ٔՅ)ݥѡՍѥѡ)ݽɬѡЁЁх́Ѽéٽ)ѕՔMѥ́ݔЁeЁٔѡ)ѥȁѼɽɱ䁙́ѡݽɬݔ)ɔͭѼЁՅ䰁ݔ)ɽɅѥѥЁȸ%䁕ɥ)ͥ́ݡѡ䁅ɕeЁѼ)䁕ɍ͕́ѡe)ѡ́ݡѡ䁑eЁ͕՝ɕձ̸)$ɕЁٕͅѥݥѠ)Ѓq܁ӊétݡٕȁͥ)%ԁѱ䁑eЁѡЁѡ́ɔݽɬ)݅ѼɅձ䁵ٔ)ݽɭݥѠͽܸ-ѡ)́ɔ͕Ѽͥ́٥%Ё)́ѡѥԁeЁٔѼ)ե䁽ȁЁл )Ёɔԁe)ɕЁѡͅݽɬ́ݥѠѡЁ)$ѡ͔ѥ́ٔԁѕɵ́)ݡЁѼѡЁݡȁ)QɥЁ́Ёѡɔȁٕ)ͥȄՍ