Frequently Asked Questions
Do you teach advanced students?
Yes. For those advanced students, who already have a good technique, I can provide very strong assistance with interpretation, presentation, language accuracy in French, German, Italian and stagecraft. Non-native English speakers can be helped towards flawless English pronunciation. I provide tuition for examinations and assist with preparation for roles, auditions and performance. Advanced singers will also benefit from my relaxed, careful, analytic approach to resolving any unaddressed flaws in technique. It is not very helpful to have a vocal fault fixed in a lesson if the good technique can not be reproduced at will subsequently. It is therefore necessary for the singer to understand the cause of the problem and the nature of the fix. Relaxed but rigourous discussion will help understanding and retention.
Do you teach music theory and composition?
Yes indeed. I can give instruction in all aspects of music theory as required from basic staff notation to advanced harmony and counterpoint- and if required I can help with song writing or instrumental composition in a wide range of styles.
Do you teach beginners?
Yes. I take pride in having taught upwards of a hundred adults who were absolute beginners to sing well. Many of them now happy to sing solo before a large audience without a mic.
How long are the lessons and how frequent?
For over 16s I prefer to work with lessons of one hour duration. Any shorter and there is no time to get going. Any longer and we both get exhausted. A good frequency is once per week, especially for the first few lessons. Sometimes twice per week is good if working for an audition or an important performance, but because of time and expense many pupils come once per fortnight.
Do you teach children
Yes. Though not those younger than 11. Under 16s will need to be accompanied by a parent. Lessons are shorter. Lessons are booked one at a time - not in a series.
How much are the lessons?
My current rates are 32 pounds per hour for students over 21 and 25 pounds per 45 minutes for students under 21. My charges are at the middle/lower end of the scale.
What if I turn out not to be able to sing/ or have a very poor voice?
It hasn't happened yet in my experience. Most people are very pleasantly surprised at how they progress.
How many lessons must I sign up for?
I work one lesson at a time. When one is finished we can book the next if you wish.
Do I need to be able to read music?
Not as a beginner. However I do encourage you gradually to acquire music skills and knowledge of theory.
My methods are a distillation of the methods of the many teachers who have taught me over many years (not least the late Wynford Evans - a wonderfully supportive and inspirational teacher and friend), in many hundreds of private lessons and public master-classes, coupled with the methods I have acquired from an extensive study of the textbooks of great teachers of the past, in particular the writings of Professors William Vennard, Richard Miller, and many notable contemporary pedagogues, especially Janice Chapman.
Vennard insists on a scientific approach. To quote his excellent textbook "There are those teachers who feel that applying science to an art is quackery, but I believe that our only safeguard against the charlatan is general knowledge of the most accurate information available". Unfortunately the scientific approach has not greatly enlightened the field of singing teaching as yet. Though progress is made there is much that is not agreed or understood properly. I remain humble, hopeful and undogmatic - and treat each student as a unique individual.
I focus on getting the pupil to experience (and remember) the subtle feelings that occur at the moment of producing a fine sound.
To produce the fine sound in the first place I use the normal methods of imagery and focus, aiming for power, resonance, clarity of vowel and consonant production and, most especially, beauty of tone - the magic ingredient that moves the audience.
Modern sensibilities preclude the hands on touching used by many fine teachers, so I work instead by close visual and aural observation.
A few aspects of my teaching seem to me to be my own discoveries and unique to me - in particular methods for legato using insight from my extensive study of phonetics, and methods for connecting with an audience, based on my many experiences of doing just that.
Only 20 minutes or so of a lesson is devoted to pure technique (posture, breathing, support etc), with the bulk of the lesson being devoted to repertoire (and applied technique). I can provide songs and arias if required or I am very happy to work with songs in any style that interest the student.