Professional, no-nonsense advice
People come to singing lessons for many different reasons, and with a wide variety of goals in mind… some musical, and some with a view to improving their overall well-being. Below is a list of just a few them:
To gain confidence / be happier
Work on intonation (tuning)
Understand timing / rhythm
Increase breath control
Improve general fitness
Express emotions / tell stories through song
Feel able to sing in groups
Aquire a skill for use with children
(such as for primary school teachers)
Prepare for a performance or special event
Write and perform own songs
Sing with piano / guitar / ukulele etc.
To compliment speech therapy
Prepare for auditions
Sit graded singing exams
I believe that my job is to listen to what each individual student wants out of singing lessons, and to respond accordingly with appropriate help, advice, guidance and practise techniques. I suggest exercises and warm-ups, and work with students on repertoire in a genre that they enjoy: if you are into musical theatre then I’ll find West End songs at the right difficulty level for you; if you really want to be able to stand up on a karaoke night and blast out a pop song, then I can help you with that too.
EVERYBODY CAN SING !!
Our society seems intent on having people believe that singers are born with a special gift that’s denied to the rest of us ‘mere mortals’. The truth is that we all use our voices in lots of ways every hour of every day in speech etc. In fact, talking is much like singing in its use of rhythm, pitch, inflection etc… so if you can speak then YOU CAN SING! True, some people haven’t yet been shown just how to make the most of the voice that they have.. and that’s where singing lessons come in. It’s my job to help you to connect your innate musicality to your physical body. As soon as you have the confidence (and the guidance) to take control of your mouth, lungs, diaphragm etc in a new way, you are free to make music that is truly as unique as you are.
Occasionally I am approached by someone who already sings in some capacity or other and, for whatever reason, would like help to improve. This could be general assistance with vocal control, or specifically to prepare for a concert / audition / gig etc. The role of the vocal coach, then, isn’t so much to teach how a particular song goes, but to listen to how you approach music that is more familiar to you than it is to me, and to offer appropriate guidance on technique and performance. The help people require at this stage varies widely, but often I find myself assisting with interpreting the meanings of songs (and how this can be communicated to an audience), dealing with ‘sticky’ lines, considering voice placement and where transitions can be made, thinking about phrasing and the correct places to breath etc. etc.
I have worked with singers over many years, firstly as an accompanist and then as a coach, singing teacher and musical director. I currently conduct the Carleton Ladies Choir, and also take on freelance MD / Assistant MD roles with local choirs and theatre groups, as and when I can squeeze them into my busy schedule.