Thursday, December 1, 2011

What Does A Coach Do?

Writing to you as a light snow falls outside in Toronto end of Nov 2011, in preparation for the Q & A video what we will be posting in the New Year in response to your questions, (please send 'em to micah@singersplayground and we'll pick a few to film answers for!).
I've been ruminating about what we coaches do for our clients. I've been coaching in Toronto, Los Angeles and recently New York over the course of almost 30 years and have found there is are consistent themes in the way singers can use a coach.
The first way is as a trusted partner in the building of the singers voice. This is the single most important (and life changing skill) that a coach can bring to a client. The issue that would bring a singer to a coach is usually one of lack of knowledge and experience around technique. The challenge as a coach tends to be how few singers actually dig in and spend the time (and funds, which is a practical consideration), to complete the process of acquiring a solid technique.
A good coach can make the quick changes necessary for the singer to feel a new freedom, and of course managers, labels and producers (as well as artists) rely on quick results. It's fun playing magician a few weeks before a singers studio session or tour dates, but in truth thats not how the best results are attained. In my experience the best results come from regular sessions (and lots of practical application) over the course of many months. This can be hard to do (especially with busy schedules) but in truth thats the only way systemic changes in technique can really take root. Singers have trouble thinking of their voice work as a daily practice over the course of time, but in my experience thats how real change is best achieved.

The second way that I try to be useful is as a trusted advisor to the artist in things connected to their approach to their work. I was never confident that I could be really and truly helpful in my early years of coaching and kept my focus on the voice but in recent years as I've gained knowledge and experience in the music industry, I have found that I've been able to extend my support to both fledgling and mid career artists in their business practices.
Changing perspective so that artists feel their empowerment and putting themselves in the drivers seat is essential for careers to function well.
That usually entails a large scale shift in perspective for even though the industry has crashed around us artists still feel the need for "Big Daddy" to come and rescue them from all the hard work it takes to establish a career.
This shift in perspective can happen during Private coaching sessions and in group seminars that are designed to expand the singers knowledge and help them find practical application and design step by step game plans for themselves.
Assembling a team to support the singer is an important focus for me in these Career Strategy sessions, and making sure the singer is taking full responsibility for the health of their career is also key. I think it's important when I coach "music industry skills" that I never seek to take the place of a manager or producer but help the artist ask the questions they need to be asking themselves in order to better be prepared to attract top notch professionals from the industry to work with them.

So, as we prepare to film Q & A video's please dig into your voice and career challenges and ask away! Please slip me an e mail at and we'll try to get everything answered whether it ends up in the upcoming Q & A video clips or not.
These two areas VOICE TECHNIQUE and CAREER STRATEGY are good places for us to start…what would you like to know?
Micah Barnes

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