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.


Friday, 11 May 2018

Exam time yet again.....top tips for practice.

So, once again my students are preparing for their LCM Musical Theatre exams. This year I have prepared 44 students for exams over 2 days. So I thought it might be useful to revisit my top tips for practicing.


I see many of my students for an hour or half an hour a week. I can only do so much in that time to help them prepare. I can not tell you how important practice in between lessons is. There is nothing more disheartening to my ears to hear, "No!", when I ask "have you managed to do much practice this week?".

Of course, if you just come to singing lessons in order to have a good sing once a week then I really don't mind if you practice or not. However, if you have a goal or an exam you intend to take then singing once a week ain't going to cut it. I try to make life as easy as possible for my students to be able to practice. I can provide a warm up MP3, I even, on occasion, will record a demo version of any song they are singing (if they want to spend the week listening to me - I'll sing anything!). So there are no excuses to not sing between lessons.

Top tips for practicing:

1) Set aside a certain amount of time every day, or every other day, to sing and stick to it. It's like any exercise, if you factor it into your schedule you are more likely to do it.

2) Find a place in your house where you feel comfortable to sing. One of the most difficult things about singing at home is the constant worry that someone will hear you. Unfortunately, this is something you have to overcome, and quickly. When we sing it can be loud but, as long as you aren't singing for hours on end every day, most neighbours/flatmates/partners/pets are very understanding and sometimes impressed. So just go for it!

3) Speak the words. A great one for those who are a little shy about singing out at home. Muscle memory is very helpful and important and is particularly useful when singing in another language. Get your mouth used to forming the words and the order they come in. This also helps in languages you understand too. Work out, through reading aloud, how you would say the sentences before trying to sing them. That way you find the important words and can give them that little extra help.

4) Hum through the tune. Another good one for scaredy cats. Lightly humming through the tune without the words can help your brain learn the tune without the added pressure of trying to remember the text. Once you confidently have it, change to a favourite vowel sound then sing the vowels of the text. Work up to the full words.

5) Relax! Singing should be fun, even singing in exams. I don't mean there should be no nerves. I love adrenaline and the buzz I get from singing in front of people but it shouldn't be debilitating. Don't forget your breathing when you are practicing alone.

I will let you know how my students get on in due course, but for now, get in touch if you want to start singing lessons. However, more importantly, get singing people!