Singing is good for us on so many levels. It can lift our mood, build our confidence, help us to express our feelings and bring balance to our body and mind. Even with 18 years of experience in teaching singing to students of all ages and abilities, I am still excited to be helping others to develop their vocal abilities.
We all have a unique sound and we all use our voices in different ways. A ‘singing lesson’ is not only about working on one’s voice, but is often about peeling away things that we don’t need. For example, the stresses and strains of the day, or emotions that we sometimes don’t even realise we are carrying. The throat is an area where many of us hold these tensions. When we connect with our true voice, these tensions are released and will eventually fall away – then we can start to discover different ways of using our voice. As a teacher, it is important for me to create a safe and secure environment in which I can support the student and nurture their development in this area.
Good air flow is essential for healthy singing in all musical genres. I like to start with focused breathing exercises designed to help the student connect with their lower body, strengthen core muscles and bring alignment to the body which helps to improve breath control. This can then extend into voiced breathing exercises and an exploration of the student’s vocal range and resonance. Good posture is vital, but it is just as important to remain as comfortable and relaxed as possible without straining any muscles.
Our body is our instrument and we need to maintain our physical condition as best we can. Therefore, a balanced lifestyle of healthy diet, exercise, and sufficient rest will all help to maximise our potential as a singer. Music, combined with physical movement, can release tension, raise energy levels and bring joy into our body – helping to free up the voice. I like to encourage students to stretch and move – sometimes to the music – in order to absorb the rhythm, character and emotion of the song on a deeper level. If we can experience and ‘feel’ the music in our bodies, this will inevitably be heard in our voices.
I teach a broad range of musical styles from Classical and Opera to Jazz and Musical Theatre. It is not only important for students to sing repertoire that they enjoy, but also to have a variety and good balance of styles. With many of my students working towards performances, auditions, and exams, a focus on character, performance skills, and presentation is all part of the learning. Sight-reading skills and aural tests are also encouraged to improve musicianship, musical understanding, and awareness.
Previous teaching experience includes Harrodian School, London (2005-2013) where I taught individual singing lessons and prepared pupils for ABRSM singing exams and GCSE & A-Level performance assessments, St Bede’s Prep School, Eastbourne (2001-2004) where I taught both individual singing & piano lessons, prepared pupils for ABRSM singing & piano exams, classroom key stage 2, recorder ensembles and was choir accompanist. I also worked at Music House For Children, Notting Hill (2000-2004) leading Music & Movement classes and teaching individual singing & piano lessons. Other teaching work includes deputy singing teacher at St Bede’s Senior School (2001-2004) and singing & piano lessons at Eastbourne Music Academy (2000-2004).
I currently work at St James Senior Girls’ School (2013-) and The Laurels School (2017-) where I teach individual singing lessons and prepare pupils for performances, auditions, ABRSM singing exams and GCSE & A-Level performance assessments. Other freelance teaching work includes practitioner for Pegasus Opera Company (2017-) leading community choirs, music clubs, ABRSM cover sessions and outreach work. I also teach a number of private singing students of all ages and abilities and enjoy accompanying music exams and concerts.
Recent engagements include choir master for The Lansdowne Club, Mayfair staff choir, and coaching pupils towards performances of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas at Leighton House Museum, Holland Park.