Monday, 8 February 2021

Snow, singing and 60 Seconds

Well hello, and happy belated new year. To say we are locked down in the UK, and have been for a month now, I am crazy busy right now. Having been online for nearly a year teaching it’s been an interesting and thought-provoking time as well as providing me, and every other teacher in the world, with an extremely large learning curve. 

I am writing this on a cold and snowy Sunday afternoon whilst watching an audition workshop on Zoom (I find it impossible to do one thing at a time anymore, I am constantly multi-tasking). It appears to have stopped snowing outside now and, because I’ve just had a horrendous electricity bill come in, I’ve turned down my thermostat and am wearing two jumpers along with an old woman blanket over my knees whilst I compose this post. 

So, what have I got to tell you? A few things actually. I started 2021 with a few manageable resolutions and, so far, I am sticking to them. Well, most of them. The two big ones I really want to stick to are the ones that are going well, thankfully. They are 1) to read for at least 5 minutes a day and 2) to exercise (go for a walk) for 10 minutes a day. I have managed both of these and, of course, do more than the required 5 or 10 minutes at a time. I just figured, if I set myself a ridiculously easy goal I am more likely to achieve it and, so far so good (perhaps some of you, particularly the students, could apply the 5 or 10 minute idea to your singing practice!). What this has meant is that I don’t feel as drained as I had been when I sit down to teach online. Especially when, at times, I can be teaching for over 4 hours without a break. It is really quite tiring looking at a screen for such lengthy amounts of time when you aren’t used to it.

This new found energy has also meant that I look forward to teaching online. No matter what happens with this pandemic the online thing is here to stay. I will now always have students that would rather have their lessons online and that is more than OK with me. I made a decision a couple of weeks that I will probably do more online teaching than in person teaching from now on. I have also found that I want to teach more adults and young adults rather than children which is why I am raising the minimum age to 13yrs old to have lessons with me from now on (this does NOT apply to the people I already teach, your places are safe!). 

What I have found is that I like working with people preparing for further education. Auditions for drama schools and dance colleges. I particularly like working with those for who singing is not their strongest discipline and helping them gain more confidence before they face their greatest fear - singing in front of people! I have a few ideas to help more students needing help with this through group sessions as well as individual lessons. Watch this space.

The other thing I wanted to tell you about today is that I’ve started a new venture on Instagram. The 60 Second Singer will be a series of 60 Second videos of me giving you little breathing techniques and vocal exercises to try at home or on the go. Check it out here and please consider following me there. 

If you have snow, and like snow, go and enjoy it. If you don’t, get yourself an old lady blanket and a hot drink and snuggle up on the sofa. Perhaps also go and like The 60 Second Singer on Instagram! 

Oh and here’s a picture from my snowy walk this morning.



Wednesday, 23 September 2020

September is bustin’ out all over (because June was cancelled)

Apologies for taking so long to write an actual post for you. It has been a crazy 6 months. Lockdown, Zoom classes, baking, daily walks, endless webinars on all sorts of subjects. So how are we all feeling about singing face to face again?

I haven’t hated teaching online at all and, in fact, I will continue to teach online in conjunction with my face to face teaching for the foreseeable future. I have found online teaching to be an excellent way to deliver singing lessons. They are not a total substitute for being in the same room as my students but it definitely has its uses. I now have some students who don’t live near enough to me to have face to face lessons so the ability to meet with people online means I can offer lessons to a wider group of people.

I have been teaching face to face for the past 2 weeks and, so far, it's been great. I am not teaching from home anymore but my local church hall has done me a great deal which means I can teach in a huge room with plenty of scope for social distancing and I, and my students, feel very safe. I'm only doing 3 or 4 face to face sessions a week right now but aim to increase this a little over the coming weeks. 

My choirs are still online, 3 sessions a week, and new members are welcome. Tuesday evenings will remain online forever so if you don't live anywhere near Selsdon/Croydon but are looking for an online choir to join you might want to consider Songsations. Email me at songsations@outlook.com or visit songsations.net for more details.

I thought with this new post I would tell you a little story. I have been watching endless free webinars over the past few months. Most have been pointless and resulted in me losing many hours of my life that I will never get back but the odd one has proved interesting and actually useful. I have had tasks to complete over the past few days and today's task was to write about something in your past that has been a lightbulb moment in your career. This is what I wrote:

I realised I could sing when I was 10. From that moment I knew that my career would be a musical one (this was a lightbulb moment but not THE lightbulb moment). I went to university and music college and trained to be an opera singer. I was pretty successful and ended up side-stepping into musical theatre along the way. 

Back in 2002 (ish, can't remember exactly) I did a job where I was one of 3 professional singers employed to put on an opera in a week with a group of amateur singers making up the chorus. Part of this job, that I was not informed about when I took the job, was to deliver a masterclass with a couple of the amateur singers who had signed up to sing their favourite operatic arias for the rest of the group and I would help them make it better. I objected to having to do it as I really didn't think I could do it or that I would be any good at it. Anyway, to cut a very long story short, I did it and I LOVED it. I worked with 2 women who had very little confidence when it came to singing but got up and did it anyway and by the time we had finished working together they left the stage with a spring in their step and big, beaming smiles on their faces. It was at that moment I realised I possibly had a knack for coaching.

I received praise and thanks for a job very well done and our director of the opera, who had come to the masterclass even though he had the afternoon off, stopped me in the street to tell me how good a job I had done. At this point I wasn't really thinking of teaching/coaching being part of my life's plan but a few years down the line I had no performing work but needed a job that would allow me to still go to auditions. I remembered the masterclass I had done all those years ago and how much I had enjoyed the coaching experience and helping those 2 women become more confident singers and wondered if I could do something with this skill.

So 10yrs ago I started teaching as a side hustle. That side hustle has turned into my full time career and ultimately led to my starting my choirs, Songsations, which has allowed me to help even more women find somewhere they can sing without feeling judged or scrutinised.

So if you are looking for a singing teacher (either online or in person) or if you're a woman aged 18+ looking for a choir to join, get in touch and we'll see what we can do!



Thursday, 1 November 2018

A change is as good as a rest.

Well hello there. Just a quick post to say that it is all change at The Singing Stars. So much so that the name “The Singing Stars” is now obsolete. This blog is now called Sing Your Song. You can still find details about singing lessons with Claire and info about The Songsations here but I decided I wanted spruce up the blog.

The reason I chose the name The Singing Stars originally was because I was planning to start a Sunday Singing school for children and the name seemed child/teenage friendly. However, it never happened and, to be honest, the idea no longer works for me. I LOVE teaching 1-1 so want to concentrate on that.

This means the blog can move in a different direction and I can find new things to talk about. So keep checking back to see where Sing Your Song might go in the future.