Any questions? Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about singing lessons.
If you have any questions which aren’t answered here, please use the comment box at the bottom of the page to ask!
Why should I start taking singing lessons when I’ve never taken music lessons before?
Everyone can benefit from singing lessons. While not everyone will go on to have a career using their singing voice, or indeed in music at all, learning to sing brings a range of other benefits. Singing can help increase confidence, making it less daunting to face that big presentation at work. Lessons will also help you to keep your voice healthy, meaning less of that hoarse feeling, whether you’re a lifeguard or a teacher. Studying singing also provides very tangible rewards, whether it’s learning that song you’ve always loved, or receiving your first exam certificate.
I already learn an instrument. How can singing lessons help me?
Singing lessons are a great boost to general musicianship for instrumentalists. I use lots of practical exercises to help students of all ability levels with music reading and aural skills. If aural tests and sight-reading fill you with dread, singing lessons can help. Learning to perform as a singer can also help to improve your performance as a musician. Coming from a background in theatre, I use a range of drama games and techniques to help students connect to their repertoire in ways which can easily be transferred to instrumental music.
Do you offer exams in singing?
I offer exams in singing and music theory. I usually submit students for classical singing exams through Trinity College London and musical theatre exams through LCM. I find the Trinity theory syllabus is much more logical and progresses better than other boards, so I usually put students through their Theory exams. I have also submitted students through ABRSM for theory and practical exams. As an alternative to the grade 5 theory requirement for ABRSM’s higher grades, I also prepare students for practical musicianship exams. You can find out more about the exams I offer here.
I don’t want to take exams, is that ok?
Absolutely! There’s no requirement to take exams, and it won’t stop you from progressing really well if you don’t do them.
In general, I do encourage students to take exams, as they provide clear markers of your progress. The reward of passing formal tests is also unequalled! However, for some students time constraints are a problem, and for others exams can be too daunting. One alternative option to standard exams are audio and dvd submission exams, which are more informal as they can be taken during normal lessons while still bringing the reward of a certificate at the end.
My eight-year-old really enjoys singing. Can s/he take lessons?
I don’t offer formal singing lessons to children younger than around aged 10-11 (P6/7). Unlike learning the violin or the piano, younger is not better with singing. Young children’s voices are constantly changing and growing along with the rest of their bodies, and they need to be treated with care. Learning good singing technique also requires a more mature level of verbal communication and understanding as we can’t see our own vocal chords (unlike our fingers!).
For primary-school aged, I offer a programme of Kodaly-based musicianship with an emphasis on singing. Rather that focusing mainly on singing technique as I would do with teenage and adult pupils, we focus on learning simple songs and gaining a good aural and theoretical musical grounding which will benefit any young musician whether they want to progress to full singing lessons or need musicianship skills to complement their instrumental lessons.
What styles of singing do you teach?
In the early stages, good singing technique is more or less the same no matter what genre you intend to focus on later on. Beginners will be given the chance to sing a range of music including folk songs, art songs and songs from the shows. Even up to diploma level, there is no requirement to specialise and many of my students succeed in both classical and musical theatre exams.
At the more advanced level, I teach primarily classical and musical theatre repertoire, rather than pop and rock, folk or jazz. If you have a serious interest in these areas, I will do my best to recommend a teacher who specialises in these styles.
Can you teach me to sing like Adele / Kristen Chenoweth / Pavarotti?
In a word, no, and I wouldn’t want to even if I could. Part of discovering singing is discovering your own unique and beautiful sound. Everyone’s voice is different (even if we do sound like our parents on the phone sometimes…) and so I don’t want to teach you to sing like Adele. I want to teach you to sing like you!
Do I have to learn to read music as part of learning to sing?
I’d like to say no, but the reality is that for the overwhelming majority of musicians reading music is more or less essential. Whether you want to join a choir or audition for a musical, you might very well face a sight-reading test, or be sent away with sheet music to learn overnight. Not learning to read music puts you at as much of a disadvantage as an actor being unable to read a script. It might seem daunting to learn to read all over again, when you may not remember learning to do it the first time, but actually written music is even more logical than the written word. I use some wonderful materials that will help you have fun and grasp the basics of reading notation before you know it!
Do you offer gift vouchers for a block of singing lessons?
I’m sorry to say I don’t offer gift vouchers. My schedule is very full so the recipient could easily be waiting several months to find a suitable slot for them. Short term bookings are also more difficult to accommodate. I also believe that singing is a long-term commitment and it is very difficult to improve someone’s skills in any meaningful way over a short period of 6 or 8 weeks, let alone in two or three sessions.