Wednesday, 21 December 2016

In space, no one can hear you scream....the same goes for a closed mouth.

So, Fridays and Saturdays are my busiest teaching days of the week. I teach 10 private lessons on a Friday and 8 group classes on a Saturday and this past Friday and Saturday I found myself getting a little perturbed by the amount of students reluctant to open their mouths when they sing.

I personally find this odd but I do understand. There is something very personal about singing and expecting a beginner to just "go for it" right from the off is unlikely. It's far easier to learn to play the violin and to play with abandon in front of people than it is to produce a sound from inside yourself that you are happy for other people to hear.

I like to think I am the encouraging type of teacher. I never say anything is bad, unless it is an intermediate or advanced student I have worked with for a while and I know they want constructive criticism and that they can take it. With beginners and scaredy cats I find the softly, softly approach works far better than shooting them down the first opportunity I get. I find that even the most confident people in life can be riddled with fear if asked to sing on their own. This fear can also apply to group singing. The fear that you will come in at the wrong time or keep singing when everyone else has stopped singing can be, for some, a risk not worth taking causing the student to sing in nothing more than a whisper. Case in point:

One group I teach is made up of 10 highly exuberant teenagers. All have something to say, many of them are hilarious and they are all very chatty (sometimes to the point that I want to tear my hair out). However, the minute I ask them to sing the volume goes down to the level you would hear in a library. This annoys me for many reasons, the main one being, I know for a fact, that they can all sing in tune and all have pleasant voices (some have great voices) but ask them to sing together and the fear takes over. I have made headway with some of them and they have started singing out a little more and I am hoping this will encourage the rest of the class.  The main culprit for lack of noise, though, is the fact that they will not open their mouths.

I have to stop myself telling these and other children to stop being silly and just sing for goodness sake as I know it will have the opposite effect. It has to be coaxed out of them, but my advice to all beginner singers is just open your mouth and let the sound out. I promise you won't regret it.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Come sing with me!

Hello again all.

Good news, The Singing Stars is expanding!

Do you or your child have ambitions to take the LCM (London College of Music) Musical Theatre exams? These exams are great for confidence building and working on performance skills. Plus when you get to Grade 6 they get you UCAS points which helps when applying for universities etc...

I also prepare students to take ABRSM and Trinity exams too. So if you really want a challenge ask me about these too.

At the moment I have some availability after school during the week and a couple of slots on Saturdays or Sundays so use the contact form below to ask me any questions

Of course you don't have to take any exams if you don't want to. Perhaps you are thinking of joining a choir or the local amateur dramatics society and want to feel more confident about your singing before the first rehearsal. Perhaps you want to sing out more at church but don't have confidence in your voice. There are so many reasons to come for a singing lesson. I am pretty sure you will leave my lesson feeling great thanks to all the endorphins that will be released.


So what are you waiting for? Send me a message via the contact form below.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

28 exams and 23 distinctions later....

You will find that this blog post is just an excuse for me to blow my own trumpet. A couple of  weekends ago was one of the most thrilling and stressful of my teaching career to date. I arranged for 29 students at one of the theatre schools I teach at to take LCM (London College of Music) Musical Theatre exams. I had 5 doing Grade 1, 16 doing Grade 2, 5 doing Grade 3, 1 doing Grade 5 and 2 doing Grade 6 (although one of my grade 6 students came down with a bug so couldn't do the exam in the end). Thankfully all my work and, more to the point, the work the children put in really paid off.

In the run up to the exams I was not convinced our results would be as good as they were. The children had to practice in their classes in front of their peers. That can be more terrifying than an actual exam in reality. For many people singing in front of strangers is much easier than singing in front of their friends. Therefore some of the students had not showed me what they were really capable of in the class but when they got in front of the examiner something made them go for it. I think you get to the point where you realise there is no turning back and you just have do you best and hope you remember everything you worked on.

Well these kids did just that. Everyone passed and as the title suggests 23 of the results were distinctions. These exams are not only good experience in performing but also in self discipline. The children would not have achieved the results they achieved unless they had put some work in at home on their own. I can help them learn the songs but I can't make them remember everything. That's where practice comes in. Plus all the nagging I did over the 6 weeks run up to the exams was obviously worth it. Onwards and upwards!