Before You Hire a Vocal Coach

Judy Rodman gives us an in depth look at ways some less-than-reputable vocal coaches rip off students.


Judy Rodman is a chart topping country artist who won the ACM award for top new female vocalist in 1985. She’s also a hit songwriter/producer and her voice has appeared on over 2000 recordings. Today she is one of the most sought after vocal coaches in Nashville.



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Before You Hire a Vocal Coach

Welcome to our Cartne scam and rip off warning video series. Our topic today is before you hire a vocal coach. Our guest is Judy Rodman.

Judy was a successful recording artist, making it all the way to number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles Chart in 1986 with the song “Until I Met You.” She also won the Academy of Country Music’s top new female vocalist award in 1985. Among her many songwriting credits is Leann Rimes, smash hit one way ticket. She has appeared on over 2000 recordings. Today Judy is a producer and one of the most sought after vocal instructors in Nashville.


Hi, everybody. I’m Judy Rodman and with over 50 years of experience in our crazy music business, I work with voices and I help voices be all they can be for what you need to do.

Judy, can you share some ways in which vocal coaches might rip off or take advantage of their students?

Yes. And I’m going to give you some points here that I actually am familiar with in particular situations. First of all, here’s how vocal coaches can rip singers off. One is by claiming “that’s my voice” and that rips off the students own credit for their vocal and commercial success. And also, you know, maybe they’ve trained with someone else. There’s always a village behind a successful voice. So you have to watch for that. And they’re also going to probably be kind of intimidating and possessive and all that. 

The second way that a vocal coach can rip an artist off is by angrily or forcefully demanding that the vocal coach not use any other vocal coach, not take any other lessons than them. And yes, I know I know of several instances where this happened. No vocal coach owns their students, no vocal coach. And they should only stay with that vocal coach if the training’s working for them. And maybe they think, oh, I’ve heard about this other vocal coach. Let me try them. If that vocal coach helps them more or in a different way, more power to them. 

And the first vocal coach should welcome it and actually learn from the other coach. And if the first vocal coach is still the best for that student, they’ll come back. Ask me how I know.

And then another way is by using intimidation or belittling to make the student feel that they are the reason they’re not improving. And so that kind of vocal coach is usually hiding their own inability to help. This rips off the student’s confidence instead of building it.

Another way is by teaching techniques and vocal exercises that cause the student’s voice to strain. No vocal exercise should cause the student’s voice to strain. And if the training does that, it’s wrong. It’s OK to challenge a student’s voice and stretch the voice, but never to create the condition where the student’s voice feels worse after the lesson than better. Of course, that rips the student’s vocal health off. 

Another way that the vocal coach can rip a student off is if the student’s voice doesn’t improve or it takes too long for the student’s voice to improve. You don’t have to take months of breathing exercises for your voice to receive significant improvement from good teaching. And the truth is, it should do that at the very first lesson, you know, you’re going to rip off the student’s money and time and heart if you take too long to improve their voice. 

Another way that a vocal coach can rip a student off is by demanding the student sing genres that the student doesn’t want to sing. And that’s because the vocal coach only knows how to teach that genre. So it’s OK to challenge the student by introducing certain genres that may stretch the imagination or stretch the students ability to sing what they didn’t even think they could. But don’t continue to force the student to do something that’s not in their heart. Unless it’s for a vocal exercise. 

And another way that a vocal coach can rip a student off is by neglecting to suggest the student seek medical help or a medical diagnostic visit with a lyric ecologist. If there are puzzling issues that don’t resolve. And if the vocal coach is hubris large enough to the point where well, “let me just try some more vocal lessons and then we’ll see if it improves.” That is potentially damaging to not only the student’s voice, but possibly even their health, because it could be acid reflux or it could be cancer. 

So at the first sign of something that’s puzzling and that isn’t resolved after one or two lessons, maybe three at the most, the vocal student should be sent to a clinic where a good laryngologist can at least examine them and find out what the issues are. Then if there’s irritation or even a little damage with the doctor’s approval, then the person can come back and do some vocal exercises to improve and correct their technique and allow the voice to self-heal. But a doctor needs to be consulted at least.


This concludes our video on what to be aware of before you hire a vocal coach. We’d like to thank Judy Rodman for sharing her incredible expertise and experience with us.

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