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As smug as it may sound, I have the best job in the world. For the past six years I have taught the art of singing to a city of voices; the vocally gifted, the vocally tired, the vocally curious and the vocally terrified, to name a few. I don’t claim to be the most naturally talented singer in the world. I myself am cursed with a low resting and lazy larynx which loathes having to find itself facilitating anything particularly high, and never have I claimed to be able to reach the dizzying heights of Ariana or follow the complicated runs of Beyoncé, but you’d be hard pushed to find someone more passionate to greet you at the door. That is not to say, of course, that I don’t have the ability to sing - of course I do! I have trained for years; I love nothing more than doing it, talking about it and teaching it.
As a vocal coach, I believe that with the right support and encouragement, singing is easy and singing is our birth right. However, if you really want to learn to use your voice as a singer, one restriction remains: in the same way that you are born with certain sized feet, I am afraid that your voice will tell you where it belongs and where it fits best, what it likes to sing and what it does not. That is the first lesson. In finding or knowing your range, or your voice classification, so begins our journey together. For some people it is immediately obvious, the singer knows, the voice knows, and even the music seems to know (in some cases) that, yes, this feels good.
It is a complicated matter dealing with people’s voices, as it is a strong and wilful part of a person’s identity. This is why I often notice that the students who grow the most through training or voice exploration, are those with a little bit of life behind them. The twenty-eight-year olds and up, perhaps, as this is when the voice has settled. Around this age a person knows themselves enough to get really honest about how much they love music, which artists make them passionate, which lyrical style moves them the most, and how sad they are that they don’t sing anymore/enough, and that they didn’t take time to develop technique earlier in life. It is true that, yes, if you are lucky enough to have vocal training before this age it will hold you in good stead, and should certainly be viewed as a great privilege, as your voice and its many uses see you through a lifetime. However, if you have always wanted to try but feel that it is too late and you should have made time for it when you were younger, I’m here to tell you that it is never too late. You can learn to sing.
When we went into lockdown in March, I thought: “If I have to teach online then I will not be happy in my job.” I say this in utter truth: I cannot stand sitting at a desk to work. I’ve been there, I’ve tried it, it makes me sad - it’s too quiet and it stresses me out, as I don’t get to move my body or express myself. The truth is, with online singing lessons or even when you are just talking about singing and the voice, even into a computer screen, it is difficult to be anything but expressive. I also found that not only have - in the comfort of their own homes - my students done some of their best work, but that I have too.
Back in March, we – like the rest of the country – entered a new world of discovery and learning. At City Vocal Coach, we moved our focus onto online singing lessons, and even though now we can head back into the joy of real life instruments and the acoustic perfection of our botanical singing studio in Hoxton, we understand that not everybody is ready for that. So, whether you’re comfortable staying at home for online singing lessons, or coming to our space, we want to thank you for your support by working with us on your singing, now more than ever.
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