Singers need sound information on how the body works in good singing, and specific exercises to develop coordination of muscles. Because we are our own instrument, we need to master what sportspeople and top performers call the ‘inner game‘ of thinking and emotions, and this is integral to what and how I teach. And those skills then need to be applied to whatever music you want to sing. All of this is possible, given the right information, patient and focussed coaching from me, and hard work from you.
I have taught beginners, university students, music college graduates, professional classical singers (estabished soloists, and international artists), singers from music theatre and the West End, and folk, rock, jazz and punk singers signed with well known record companies. I’ve also coached actors and voiceover artists, senior executives in the corporate world, academics and professors, broadcasters, interviewers and interviewees, people needing voice rehabilitation, and people seeking deep personal support to restore their confidence in performing and communicating. If you’ve got a question about voice, there’s a good chance I can give you a well-informed answer.
Understanding how the voice works, how to make the most of it, and how to look after it are all essential – and that is the core of the work. But by themselves, they are not enough. My first singing teacher always said that singing was 10% voice, and 90% brains. It’s all about having the right information, and then the coaching and accurate, sufficient repetition of muscular and mental processes so that we anchor the skill in reliable, automatic memory (neural pathways – understanding the neuro-science and methodology of how we develop new skills can accelerate our learning. This also means developing practice routines, and skills of self-analysis, self-monitoring and self-teaching.Once we have established a healthy, reliable way of producing beautiful, evenly matched tone throughout the whole voice, we need to learn how to maintain that when introducing melody, vowels, consonants, foreign languages, meaning, emotion, character, story, and stage movement. We must work with other musicians, master performance nerves, hold an audience, handle the unexpected – and use each performing experience as a way to learn how to improve for the next one.
Singing involves the whole person
… emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Our work together takes account of the fact that singing is about a human being expressing, communicating and relating – and there may be long-held psychological blocks to overcome as part of the journey towards vocal freedom and excellence. (read more …). I have taught groups of psychotherapists about voice and communication, and facilitated keynote sessions for organisations such as the Guild of Pastoral Psychology (founded by Carl Jung), Oxford Psychotherapy Society, and the International Association for Voice Movement Therapy, and been a consultant on voice documentaries for BBC Radio 3 and Channel 4.
Every singer – and student – is unique
Learning to sing requires a clear grounding in vocal anatomy and function, and the psychology of learning, performance, and how we perceive sound. We need to know which singers it is safe to imitate, know how to look after our voices in all situations, and master the fundamental vocal principles that apply across all vocal and musical styles. Every person is different, so while the principles remain the same, the teaching methods must vary according to the personality, learning style, strengths and needs of the student.