Monday, 23 November 2015

Just be yourself...not who you wish you were.

So, starting this Singing Stars blog has been a wonderful thing for me (hopefully for you too, but, if not, give it time). It has inspired me to look into more singing techniques and how to break them down in order to teach them better.

I have spent days, literally days, watching YouTube videos and webinars to see what others have to say (it's so cold outside at the minute so any excuse to stay in the warm). I am not simply nicking other people's ideas I promise. I am working out how to put other ideas into my own teaching without changing my approach. I suppose the fact that I am not performing (or even auditioning) at the moment has given me a new lease of life as far as my teaching goes and I am determined to  become as good a teacher as I can.

I come from a Bel Canto background but am fascinated by other techniques, such as Estill or SLS (speech level singing) however I hate labels and recently found a YouTube channel called "Singer's Secret" run by an Australian woman called Nicola Milan. She speaks a lot of sense and doesn't get bogged down with too much jargon. Obviously she is gearing everything to the beginner singer but there are lots of great hints and tips about technique and also about performance. Deffo worth a look.

As a performer, people will constantly try to pigeon hole you and I don't intend for that to happen with my teaching. I want people to have one voice. Their own voice. I am constantly striving to enable my students to move between their chest voice and head voice seamlessly. Get rid of clunky gear changes and work with what they have got, not what they wish they had. Nicola said a very interesting thing in one of her videos "there is no one that can sound as good as you can when you sing like you. However, on the flip side, you are never going to sound as good as an artist singing a song written specifically for them or by them. Everyone is unique". She then goes on to say you do your own version of a song, don't copy. This is something I try to instill in my students. Just because someone sings a song in a certain way doesn't mean you should.

The number of students that come to me and try to sing a carbon copy of Taylor Swift's latest offering  is staggering. They try to copy everything and if you try and tell them that is not what's written the student will tell me I am wrong. It is a constant battle to try and get beginner singers not to rely on, and sing like, their idols. I would love to be BeyoncĂ© but it's never going to happen so I would never attempt to sing one of her songs in the way she sings her songs, I would think outside the box and try something a little left of centre.

I feel it is my mission in my teaching life to make sure as many people think in this way. We already have a Beyoncé, a Taylor Swift, an Ed Sheeran. We don't need another. However we may need you when you sing like you. Be yourself, don't try to be someone else.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

You've got a friend in me!

So, here is post number 2 already. Don't worry I won't bother you like this all the time but I thought I would write this as I had lunch yesterday with a fellow singing teacher. Teaching singing can be a lonely business and it is important to meet with other teachers from time to time. This way you get to share ideas, talk about teaching frustrations, share success stories and get a bit of adult conversation (if you've spent the weekend teaching kids).

It is important to have someone who understands how insecure you can feel when you are teaching. When I perform I feel like I am only responsible for me but when you teach you feel a responsibility for your student too. If they haven't learnt the song I told them to learn last week I feel responsible which is, frankly, ridiculous. I can only do so much. If a student comes to me once a week for an hour or half an hour I can only do so much in that time. Between the end of that lesson and the beginning of the next the student has to be responsible for putting the work in.

When I was a student I could be lazy, we all can, but I used to want to practice so I find it bizarre when students come to a lesson and say they haven't practiced. Singers are like athletes. People say that all the time and it is true. If an athlete trained once a week for half an hour and did nothing in between they would never improve. It is the same for singers. I just wish some students would realise this.

So it was refreshing to talk to my friend and find that she had the same frustrations as me, the same feelings of guilt. I can't tell you how much better I felt after this lunch. I felt more confidence in my teaching abilities and felt like I am far too hard on myself when students fail to learn the words to their songs. That is one thing I can not do for them. Word learning is their responsibility, not mine. So today I started my teaching week (at the moment I have no students on Monday - so plenty of availability - hint, hint) with a renewed feeling of purpose. I have much to say and I can help students improve but no more spoon feeding.

Go to the "Come Sing With Me!" page for more details on how to start singing lessons with me.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Singing Stars of the World Unite!

Welcome, welcome, welcome to The Singing Stars. Here you will find all the details for how to start or continue your singing journey. My name is Claire and I am a singing teacher based in South Croydon. All the information about lessons can be found on the "Come Sing With Me!" page.

This is also the place where you can follow my own journey through teaching singing. I am an avid blogger (this is my 3rd blog and I have another ready to go). My friends are probably fed up to the back teeth of my incessant posting but I can't help myself.

Having started out as a performer I found myself teaching singing about 5 years ago in order to pay the bills but it has gradually become my main focus and I am constantly trying to better myself as a teacher and learning about new techniques to pass on to my ever growing list of students. I now teach singing at Cavat in South Croydon and Spotlites in Chatham as well as privately in South Croydon.

So this inaugural post is just to say hello. Have a look at the "Come Sing With Me!" page and let's start singing.