How much do you charge? Lessons cost £17.50 per 30 minute session.
What happens if I have to cancel a lesson? It is usually possible to rearrange a lesson time. If less than 24 hours notice is given, other than for sudden illness, the full fee will be due.
I have never sung before. Do you teach beginners? I am always quite excited by the prospect of working with someone who has never really sung very much before. Firstly they usually don’t have ingrained bad habits that come from years of singing incorrectly, and also it’s a rewarding experience in helping to discover and starting to develop an attribute they never knew was there.
People say I can’t sing but I’ve always wanted to. Can you help? Most people will benefit from learning certain skills associated with voice development. Everybody can sing to some degree, and as long as your expectations are realistic with regard to the quality of your voice, there is no reason why you cannot improve your sound and sing for pleasure or recreational purposes.
How many singing lessons do I need and how often? This will depend on why you want to sing. For someone starting to train seriously to enter the profession, then ongoing weekly lessons would be essential. Those with an already established technique who may wish to work either on repertoire or brush up their skills, would come perhaps once a month. The thing to remember is that lessons need to be augmented with practice at home – otherwise progress will be slower and more lessons needed!
What style of singing do you teach? My teaching is based on the Italian Bel Canto (easy singing) method of voice production. This lends itself more to the classical repertoire than to pop, as it doesn’t advocate belting or forcing the voice.
Great attention is paid to correct breathing ie. supporting the sound by use of the diaphragm muscles, and learning to keep the larynx relaxed and low. I also focus on tongue position and the exact placement of the vowels by use of the correct mouth and jaw positions. It is also important to understand where changes of resonance occur, and what effect they have on the passagio parts of the voice ie passing from the lowest register through to the middle register, and then to the top .
All of these things help to achieve a focused and balanced sound which should be able to encompass the entire voice range without it sounding strained or feeling uncomfortable.
How young can you start singing lessons? There really is no hard and fast rule. I take people from about 8 years old usually. This is because a degree of concentration is needed during lessons as there are a number of disciplines to consider.
I’m tone deaf. Can I learn to sing? In my experience most people who would describe themselves as tone deaf have actually never developed an adequate framework for pitching notes. Our aural sense is like any other. If left unused it will never develop fully.
This needs constant repetition of notes and intervals, often with the teacher singing along – which slowly builds up a memory of different pitches and intervals, and enables them to be replicated at will. It must be stressed that this can take a very long time to remedy and, if it’s not possible to supplement with practice at home, then slow progress can be frustrating to the pupil.
Do you do singing exams? What do I have to do? I enter pupils for either the Associated Board or Trinity examinations. This will involve learning from memory at least three songs from a choice within the syllabus, also an unaccompanied folk song and sight reading and aural tests. All of these will be worked on in the course of the lessons, and then a suitable examination period (usually three times a year) chosen.
How long does it take before I can take Grade 1? Usually between a year to eighteen months.
How frequent are the Associated Board exams? There are three examination periods during the year in January, April and September.
How many exams can a pupil take in a year? This would be dependent on the amount of practice and levels of enthusiasm and application. However, after Grade 1, two exams a year would be quite feasible up to Grade 5 level.
What does it cost to enter for a Grade Exam? The entrance fees are graded due to the amount of time each grade takes to examine. They start at £30 for Grade 1 and go up incrementally by about £6 per grade to £72 for Grade 8.
Can I buy lessons as presents? Some people want to give lessons as birthday or Christmas presents and that’s an option I offer. One should bear in mind however that, unless the request has come from the recipient, a lot of people are not prepared for the effort entailed and usually give up after the first couple of lessons.