Has music always been a passion of yours? Do you consider your singing voice to be one of your greatest assets? If the answer to both of these questions is ‘yes’, then you have two fantastic reasons to become a vocal coach!
Singing is a daily activity for many people, whether it’s in the shower, doing the dishes, rehearsing with a choir or taking part in musical theatre productions.
For those who make a career out of their passion for song, helping others who are learning how to sing is a fabulous opportunity to share a passion and enthuse others.
So, which qualifications are required of aspiring singing teachers?
Do You Need a Degree to Teach Singing?
From a legal perspective, the simple answer is no.
It all depends on the way in which you want to teach singing.
If you want to give private lessons in singing, you’ll need to register as self-employed, but no degree is necessary.
If you’d prefer to work in a state school as a music teacher, you’ll need to have achieved at least a grade C in your GCSE maths and English exams and have earned a degree in a relevant subject in addition to gaining a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).
Before we look at specific qualifications for becoming a music teacher in more detail, it is important to note the necessity of a good knowledge of music theory and a good musical ability before launching your career in vocal training.
Graduating from a conservatoire will give you the highest level of qualification in your chosen area of music. However, musical conservatoires are notoriously selective when it comes to their applicants and aspiring music teachers usually apply to study music at a university instead.
A degree in music is probably better suited to the chosen career paths of those who aim to get into vocal coaching at a school, as conservatoires generally provide training for aspiring professional musicians.
Studying A Level Music
For those who know that they want to work towards a career in music very early on, options begin opening up from the end of their academic careers. One major step on the path towards teaching singing professionally is choosing your A level options at the end of year 11.
Here are some recommendations about how each option can help you on your way to teaching.
A Level Music
Gaining an A level qualification in music is an essential step for anyone looking to become a professional musician or school music teacher.
The course content for music at A level is varied and offers plenty of opportunity for self-expression. For example, A level music students are assessed in their ability to perform on one or more instruments (including voice) as well as their composition skills and their understanding of musical theory and their level of musical ear training.
A level music courses usually also involve the close study of a particular musical work. For instance, this could be the first two movements from Ludwig van Beethoven’s first symphony. The students’ knowledge of the piece is assessed in written form as they are asked to answer a question on the piece in the format of an essay.
Aside from the written part, A level music exams also involve a test of the students’ musical listening skills, as they are played chords and asked to identify their relationship to a piece of music as well as their makeup.
The varied nature of A level music courses ensure that students end their study with a well-rounded knowledge of the world of music as well as an appreciation and understanding of the intricacies of musical composition.
A Level Drama and BTEC Performing Arts
Sixth-form students who choose to pursue studies in drama or performing arts are also likely to work with music as part of their studies, particularly if they take an interest in musical theater.
Performing arts tends to focus more on singing than playing instruments, and performers have a better opportunity to develop their stage presence as well as becoming confident in their own abilities.
This is especially useful for aspiring teachers, who can experiment with their personal performance style and learn how to help others do the same.
A level and BTEC courses in music and performing help prepare students who are looking to study music at degree level. The breadth and method of assessment give students a flavour or what may be to come in the future and can help them to overcome obstacles such as stage fright.
Can You Study to Become a Voice Coach at University?
Even though it isn’t essential for tutoring jobs as a voice teacher, musical training at degree level is advised.
When you’re heading towards a musical career, studying music at a high level will open you up to a wider knowledge of the art of music and give you a deeper understanding of the musical disciplines that interest you.
Exploring the wider world of music may confirm your desire to pursue a career in teaching, or it could also help you discover a new passion.
At universities and conservatoires, like lower down in each student’s educational career, teaching focuses on the practice of an instrument (including voice) as well as musical theory.
In addition, you may also study:
- The history of music
- Musical composition
- Orchestral or choral arrangement
Conservatoires are notoriously strict when it comes to their admissions, and even for universities, your level of ability in your instrument is expected to be very high.
As a degree subject, music is incredibly practical to study. Students are required to perform, as well as lead performances as conductors or choirmasters. The musical leadership skills demonstrated at university are useful for future teachers who can see themselves leading ensembles.
Joining a Music Teaching Service
Another option for those who would like to teach singing is to join a music service. Regional music services provide musical instrument and voice lessons to primary and secondary school children all over the UK, with teachers visiting schools in the area.
Music service teachers are trained professionals who often lead local ensembles and play for orchestras in addition to teaching in their career.
Depending on the local authority they are associated with, music teaching services offer a range of options, which may include:
- Listening and introductory sessions for young children
- Private instrument instruction
- Group instrument lessons
- Class choirs
The wide range of services offered by such organisations means that its teachers must be adaptable in their approach to teaching, whether their services are required as part of the national curriculum or as an extra-curricular activity. Learn how to prepare you singing lessons and get the right singing equipment for singing classes.
As professional musicians, music service teachers should be able to prove their competence in their chosen instrument with certifications such as ABRSM grades and diplomas.
The possibilities for teaching singing are vast, regardless of the teacher’s level of qualification.
In order to fulfil your potential as a home singing teacher, it is a good idea to make the most of your personal experience (as a student of music, a choirmaster or a performer) and take inspiration from the parts of music that you love, including your preferred musical styles (such as jazz, classical, or gospel).
This will keep you motivated in your work to help your students with breath control, vibrato, moving from chest to head voice, using their diaphragm and improving their tone quality and overall confidence in themselves as they learn to sing and blossom as a vocalist.
Singing teachers in particular also have a responsibility to teach their students about maintaining their vocal health with appropriate warm-ups, breathing exercises and singing techniques to avoid the risks of straining the voice by trying to reach too high a pitch. This is proving an attractive option for former music teachers searching for jobs for ex teachers.
Being a teacher is all about putting your students at the forefront of your expertise and giving them the knowledge and skill they need to succeed in their musical careers.
So, the answer to the question about whether any certain qualification is required to teach singing depends on the chosen field and aspirations of the teacher. One thing is, however, always the same: your own musical ability must be fantastic if you want to help other achieve singing success.