Do you need a coach?

Working with a coach can make a big difference in how you play. Look at the staff of any baseball team. There’s a pitching coach, a hitting coach, a fielding coach, a catching coach, a bullpen coach, a first base coach, a third base coach. Sports teams spend big bucks on coaches for their players.

When I was a Curtis student, there were times I envied the singers. While I went off to practice by myself, they went to coachings. They worked with diction coaches, staging coaches, vocal coaches, even stage combat coaches. They had people helping them constantly. I had a lesson once a week.

Sometimes, we all could use a coach. Someone to help us through a difficulty or meet a particular challenge. But most of us learn with regular lessons. Why would we need a coach?

What’s the difference between a coach and a teacher?

There are two clear differences between a coach and a teacher. The first is focus. A teacher provides all-around instruction and direction. A coach focuses on one specific issue or performance, more like a specialized tutor.

The second is timeframe. A teacher works with a student on an ongoing basis. Coaching always has a timeframe established before work begins. It has a start date, an end date and a goal established from the outset. Working with a coach isn’t a one-lesson deal; it’s a carefully outlined plan to meet a special objective.

Who could be helped by a coach?

1. A professional who has a special need. The professional doesn’t have a regular teacher, but she may want help with a particular technical or musical issue, or help in preparing for an upcoming performance.

2. An advanced student on track for a performing career. In this instance, the coach would be part of a teaching team dedicating to preparing this promising young performing artist.

3. Any music student who wants more input or another opinion. If you’re feeling stuck, a coach can help you move forward. If your teacher suggests you need extra work on technique or some other particular area, a coach would be ideal. Or a coach can just help you refresh your outlook.

Where do you find a coach?

Any performer or teacher who has the expertise you are seeking can be a coach. Remember coaching meets a specific need, so your coach needs to have expert knowledge about that need. Ask your teacher for help finding a coach. Many teachers will be happy to recommend someone they think will be a good fit for you. The idea may be new to other teachers, but most teachers quickly realize that having their students work with a coach frees up lesson time to work on the big picture, knowing that other areas of concern are being addressed in the coaching.

How could a coach help you?

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