I am interested in a wide range of student abilities, from the professional singer to the committed amateur (but I rarely teach young people under 17). Having a student base of varying vocal abilities and interests keeps me flexible as a teacher. It also means that over 30 years I have developed broad and deep experience of many different vocal questions, challenges and solutions. Students need to able demonstrate reasonable musical ability (see below).
I must emphasise that I am not ‘talent spotting’ or assessing whether you have a good voice, or potential for a career – though I do teach people with successful singing careers. I believe that talent is something every person can create for themselves through attention to detail, deep practice, hard work and persistence, and willingness to take emotional risks. For more on this, read Dan Coyle’s book, ‘The Talent Code‘.
My priorities as a teacher are:
- producing good vocal tone (in your chosen musical genre), consistently and healthily, with no more, or less, effort than is necessary,
- the ‘inner game’ of mental mastery when singing and learning, including connecting to your own authentic self expression
- maintaining good vocal tone and physical ease and comfort, when adding melody and/or words,
- interpretation of music and words, working on repertoire,
- performance skills,
- competitions, exams, auditions and career development.
We could be a good student-teacher match, if …
… you fit the basic criteria outlined on this page, including being at least 17 years old (apart from in exceptional circumstances – see article), and able to meet at my teaching studio in East Oxford, Mon-Fri 9:30-6:30
… you welcome a systematic approach to learning, are patient, capable of self reflection, self organising, and accept that while people often find they make some immediate vocal progress, development of true vocal mastery is a longer term project
… you are musically prepared for the lessons – Not all singing teachers ask for this, but the work in my studio is on the voice, not on developing basic musical proficiency, so you need to develop elsewhere any musical knowledge you might need for our vocal lessons, e.g. ear training, music reading, singing harmonies, learning the melody of your chosen song. You must be able to do the following:
- ‘Hold a tune’ – recall the melody of a song you know, and demonstrate that you can stay in the right key and speed when singing a verse or chorus from it
- Learn the music for your songs in your own time, so that we can concentrate on the vocal aspects, rather than learning the basic notes.
- Pitch notes with your voice accurately and in tune
- After one or two repetitions (at most), pick up by ear the short musical phrases from an example sung to you or played on a keyboard
- Be able to do basic ‘decoding’ of notated music – i.e. name the pitch of a written note (including whether it is a sharp or flat), know the duration of the note, recognise a time signature, and understand what a key signature is. (I occasionally teach voice to people who don’t read music, but they need to be able to demonstrate significant musicianship in other ways, e.g. be able to play guitar or keyboard).
- Unless we are doing a song that I have introduced, please bring your chosen songs in sheet music form, including at least the melody and lyrics, and, if at all possible, either chord symbols (for guitar), or a piano part (NB We may find that we need to re-source the song in a key better suited to your voice.)
- Have a quick, reliable method for a) starting your chosen song in the right key for your voice, b) finding the start note for any phrase in your chosen song without having to play or scroll through a recording. (If you are practising with a backing track, it needs to be in the right key for your voice.) This probably means that you also must have access to an instrument or pitch pipe in your own practice space.
… you are interested in the ‘inner game’ – learning how to navigate the central aspects of thought processes and emotions in order to attain true vocal mastery
… you organise yourself to be making music and/or practising regularly (e.g. in a band, in a choir, in a musical show, working on solo performances) – your musical and vocal development is much more likely to happen if you are using your singing voice regularly, which gives you an opportunity to apply what you are learning in lessons
Please remember that I only teach young people under 16 in exceptional cases and all enquirers for young people must read this before contacting me.
If you want to enquire about help with your voice, it really helps me if you write something about your vocal and musical background in an email, or, better still, simply fill in and submit the contact form on this website, or complete this enquiry form (Word document). This often works better than our playing endless ‘phone tag’ with messages.