Something that many people don’t really consider is the fact that the human voice is an instrument, just the same as a guitar or a piano. It takes years of practice and dedication to learn to “play” the voice, and just like other instruments using it improperly or using poor technique can result in serious consequences.
While many musicians may not respect the voice as much as they do the guitar or piano, there’s still a ton of online resources dedicated to helping aspiring vocalists learn how to manipulate their voice. However, different exercises and teachers may not work for everyone given different styles and goals. This article will give you all the information that you need in order to make an informed decision.
- What Kind of Vocal Lessons Should I Look For?
- Judging the Instructor
- Top 3 Online Vocal Lessons
What Kind of Vocal Lessons Should I Look For?
The voice is a unique instrument in that it’s much easier to use it in a way that can cause permanent damage when compared to any other instrument. This is why developing proper technique is so important if you plan on signing a lot, because otherwise you may end up losing your ability to sing.
Because of this, technique is much more important than theory for beginning vocalists. Your fingers aren’t going to fall off if you play the guitar wrong, but your voice isn’t quite as durable. These lessons should have topics like “reducing tension”, “tongue placement”, “breath control”, as well as providing you with a series of stretches to use before your warmups.
Just as importantly, any beginning vocal lesson should focus almost exclusively on the topics above and intonation (how “in tune” a note is). Any lessons series that focuses on vibrato or belting (you’ll become more educated on what these terms mean as you progress) in the beginning stages likely won’t give you the base level of knowledge you need to sing without hurting yourself. These techniques are great once you reach a level of proficiency, but as a general rule any lesson series that introduces them early likely isn’t your best option.
Judging the Instructor
When gauging whether or not a vocal instructor will be a good fit for you, the most important thing to consider is how they convey their material. Learning to sing well and understanding the mechanics behind the voice takes a lot of time and effort, so any lesson series that promises that you’ll sing like a pro in a month most likely won’t be as comprehensive as those that acknowledge that you’re not necessarily going to experience drastic overnight results.
However, do keep in mind that many lesson series can offer you a lot of help in the short term. You may actually see significant improvement in a month, depending on your skill level. Just so long as the instructor acknowledges that proficiency won’t come easy it’s a sign that they plan to offer content that will help to push you beyond a beginner’s level.
Top 3 Online Vocal Lessons
Elite Singing Techniques
Hosted on Udemy, Elite Singing Techniques is a series of lessons which aim to provide beginning vocalists with the tools that they need to understand the mechanics of the voice as well as gain mastery of the various skills and technical aspects that allow a musician to sing proficiently. Udemy hosts a huge amount of lessons on a variety of different topics. The site has gained an impressive track record for hosting valuable content on just about every skill you can imagine, which definitely lends this series a respectability it wouldn’t have if it was found on a different platform.
Udemy courses offer lifetime access for the lessons you purchase. So while many sites may only cost between $15 and $30 a month, if a Udemy course has a sufficient level of content it will actually end up saving you money in the long run.
The course we are specifically reviewing is phase one in this series, which is aimed at beginning vocalists. The course is comprehensive but remember that it’s all aimed at providing beginners with a foundational knowledge. So if you’re already experienced or you’ve taken introductory vocal lessons odds are you won’t get as much out of this series as you would if you purchased/subscribed to one that focused on more advanced musicians.
Like any other good series of vocal lessons, the majority of the content that you’re going to be going over in this course is pretty boring. No course that aims to preserve and enhance your voice is going to have you start off with the fun stuff, because the more challenging and interesting techniques require a base level of proficiency in order to execute them without damaging your voice.
Unlike a lot of other courses, this series also focuses on explaining musical terminology that you’re going to be coming across as a vocalist. Things like staccato, dynamics, legato, and the mechanics of the diaphragm are all well explained in a way that’s easy for beginning musicians to understand.
The main flaw of this series when compared to others is that you don’t get personalized feedback, which can be pretty limiting to musicians who are just getting their start. However, the course does provide a lot of information that you need to become a well-rounded musician. It could be a really good fit for vocalists who are already participating in a school choir because it has the potential to be a great supplement to a more personalized education, or people starting out that want a cost effective way to master the basics before going deeper with a vocal coach.
If you’re on the fence about whether or not to purchase this series, just honestly and objectively think about your skill level and commitment. The course does have a lot of solid information but if you’re not willing to practice and listen to the instructors advice—or you don’t have the self-discipline to consistently implement it into your practice routine—you’d probably be better off looking for a course that will give you a more personal interaction with your teacher.
Elite Singing Techniques is a great value for musicians who are willing to work at becoming proficient vocalists and are capable of self-assessing their technique.
Artistworks Vocal Lessons
Founded in 2008 by former AOL executive David Butler, ArtistWorks actually came about as a result of the company’s founder not being able to find a suitable teacher in his area. His realization that there are other musicians facing the same struggle inspired him to create an online service where any musician could take lessons with a seasoned musician. Currently, ArtistWorks features over 50,000 video lessons, 35 teachers who are noted for their contributions to music, as well as personalized feedback to help students struggling with the curriculum advance.
Unfortunately Jeannie Deva did pass in 2016. With that being said, her lessons themselves are a perfect example of what to look for when looking at taking vocal lessons online. The content is all focused around providing techniques, warmups, and exercises that help you grow your voice while learning how not to damage it in the process. The benefit of this and the proficiency with which it’s done should not be understated, because the content and approach of her vocal school really is top notch.
Like many of the other schools on the site, the Vocal curriculum focuses on giving musicians a solid platform that they can use to advance. The downside of this is that the content isn’t always the most engaging thing in the world, and for those of you who are already pretty experienced you likely won’t gain much out of the early lessons, but for those of you who are just starting out we can’t think of any site that does a better job at building overall proficiency with the voice than the ArtistWorks vocal school.
While you may not have access to Deva herself, you do still have the ability to interact with a community of singers through the site’s campus. By having fellow musicians who are also trying to learn support you and give you feedback it does help to keep you motivated, even if not having access to Deva does somewhat diminish the overall value the campus.
Deva’s video archive costs $30 a month. However, Deva has worked with literally dozens of different bands (including The Cars and The Rolling Stones). There are few people who were as well qualified to teach the voice as she is, so the information you gain through her lessons is on par with what you’d receive from any other world class vocal instructor. The main thing to consider with this course is what you need to advance. If you have an already established foundation the exercises and warm-ups found within Deva’s lessons, as well as her description of the mechanics of the voice, will do a lot to help you increase your proficiency with the instrument.
Jeannie Deva was a musical luminary who will be sorely missed. She contributed a great deal to the theory of the voice, and the musicians she taught have gone on to influence millions. Thankfully, her curriculum does have a staggering amount of quality information, and she left behind great methods for improving your vocal abilities.
Masterclass Christina Aguilera Teaches Singing
Masterclass is a service dedicated to providing people who are interested in a variety of different careers and hobbies with the chance to learn from some of the most notable and respected practitioners of the craft. Unlike a lot of other services, Masterclass brings a variety of different professionals right to your screen.
The main appeal of this site is that it’s a more targeted approach to learning, well suited to aspiring vocalists looking to emulate Aguilera. With that being said, this curriculum isn’t as fleshed out as those that aim to provide students with a more comprehensive look at the mechanics of the voice.
Aguilera’s curriculum features 23 lessons which cover the vocal warm-ups she uses, exercises, and the techniques that she uses both on the stage and in the studio. This part of the service is likely to appeal to those of you who have a foundational knowledge of the voice, because the tricks she utilizes to get a good vocal tone will at least contain some unique information. And while you can feel however you want about pop musicians in general, Aguilera is still a widely-respected vocalist in her own right. So don’t discount her right off the bat if you’re not a fan of her work. She’s still a professional vocalist, so the information she has on the subject should still be respected.
A useful feature of the service is the range finder tool, which can help beginning musicians identify their vocal range easily. While the process itself is pretty simple, it can be hard for inexperienced musicians to accurately find their “true” singing range. It’s a combination of different factors as well as experience and projected growth, which makes it hard to figure out if you have no musical experience.
The main topics covered in the curriculum are as follows: Christina’s Inspiration (Christina goes over her musical idols, which will definitely give beginning musicians a wider range of inspiration should they choose to look up the artists for themselves), Warming Up, Protecting Your Voice (incredibly valuable), Diction, Microphone Use, as well as tips for different musical styles.
One real downside here is that the course doesn’t offer any personalized feedback. This may cause beginning vocalists to advance at a slower rate than they would if they chose to use a service that did offer this feature.
Aguilera’s vocal course has an upfront cost of $90, but once you pay you get lifetime access to the service. Based on comparing the content in this course compared to others we’ve previously reviewed, we estimate that the course would take most entry-level musicians at least two to three months to completely absorb. To truly understand and implement the content would likely take longer. It should also be noted that having the ability to go back and review the content following your initial purchase does help to decrease the cost to information ratio, because once you buy it you have a license to use it so long as you see fit.
When compared to other sites, this service may not have the best ratio of content to cost, but having access to tips from a Grammy Award Winning artist is still pretty valuable in its own right. It’s a great way to supplement knowledge you already have, and aside from the “cool factor” of learning from an artist as famous as Christina she does also touch on subjects like protecting your voice. To get the most out of this service, we would still recommend supplementing the course with music theory references as well as a few other resources for vocalists.
While the Masterclass Christina Aguilera Teaches Singing series may not be as content rich as other services, being able to receive knowledge from a performer as notable and experienced as her is a great way for mid to advanced level musicians to advance.