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PRIVATE Singing Lessons


What Happens in a Private Singing Lesson?

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PRIVATE Singing Lessons


What Happens in a Private Singing Lesson?

TAKING VOICE LESSONS

Taking singing lessons is much like going to a gym for your voice

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We work with you to help you develop your voice in the same way a personal trainer might to help you get fit. Within a vocal lesson you exercise and strengthen your vocal muscles in new ways so you are able to produce a better sound.

The exercises we use involve particular combinations of vowels, consonants and other sounds.  When sung over varying scale patterns, your voice gets a tailor-made workout, which through repetition will quickly develop the muscle memory it needs to be able to sing more easily.

Every voice is completely unique, so your vocal lesson will not be the same as the next person’s. Sometimes students need to work on strain reduction and relieving tension, other times strength building (like weight-lifting for the voice), and other times flexibility and movement (think Beyonce’s licks and trills).

This is one of the reasons we believe our methodology is first class  - rather than using the same generic warm-up and work-out routines for everyone, we tailor the lesson to exactly what you need, ensuring that your progress is as fast and efficient as possible.


Children's Lessons

Please check with your teacher about lessons for younger children.  Vocal technique is quite an advanced subject by its nature and can be unsuitable to some children.  Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult at all times.  


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FAQs


FAQs


What is my first lesson like?

First we have a chat with you to find out your specific singing goals and objectives, or any problems you have been having.

Then we get you to sing through a special 'diagnostic scale', which allows us to hear what your voice tends to do.  Strange as it may seem, it is often quite easy for a trained specialist to hear what someone tends to do just from this one scale!  

Next we give you some feedback based on what we have heard, and then we can 'prescribe' you with a program of vocal exercises to help correct any weaknesses and develop your voice.  This is tailored to your own voice.

Once you have a better idea of what needs to be done through exercises, the second half of the lesson is usually set aside for singing a song and applying what has been learnt during the exercises.

SHOULD I PREPARE A SONG?

You can do but it's not essential.  Certainly don't try and perfect your song, as that's what we can especially help you with.  You can also use lyrics as a guide. 

Should i bring sheet music?

Not essential.  You can do if you have some.  Check with your teacher, particularly if it's complicated to play.  You can definitely bring lyrics or a chord chart, especially if your song is unusual or hard to find.  Otherwise, we can print off lyrics or chords or music, as necessary.

We also have Spotify, either for reference or if you would prefer to use a backing track.

Can I bring my own backing-track?

Yes, especially if it is an original track.

CAN I RECORD MY LESSON?

Absolutely, yes - we recommend that you do.

Most smart phones have a record or voice-memo function, or you can buy a portable digital recorder quite cheaply.  The quality is usually good enough to act as a reminder.

Do we offer discounts?

Yes, a 10% discount is available for 6 lesson paid for in advance.  

Lesson times and dates can vary and don't necessarily need to be booked in advance, only paid for.

how many lessons will i need?

How good do you want to be, or how quickly do you want to get there?

Six lessons provides a great introduction to proper singing technique; HOWEVER, they might not be enough to change years of bad habits.

  • If you're a professional singer, we can almost certainly help you find a better singing position within one lesson.
  • If you're a an amateur, you will certainly be able to get a difference in one lesson but it might take several sessions for the new habit to stick - more in the realm of 6-12 lessons.
  • If you're a complete beginner, you will certainly be able to find a better place to sing from in one lesson, but you might need many more lessons to learn and keep this new habit for yourself, without us there 'doing the driving' so to speak.  This is especially true if you want this new habit to be up to the level of a professional singer.  That said, you can still learn the basics from just a few lessons.

We offer regular lessons weekly, fortnightly, monthly, or whenever you wish or can afford. 

HOW MUCH DO I NEED TO PRACTICE?

Again, how good do you want to be, or how quickly do you want to get there?  

There may be someone else ahead of you practicing more than you!

Like learning anything - a language or a sport - you will improve more by immersing yourself in your new habits as much as possible, and as soon as possible.  Then you will be able to decrease their regularity but still remember the new habit.

Crash courses are great - but expensive! - but all are useless if you don't have or create a new practice habit.  Practice is the most important aspect in learning anything...aside from a good teacher! :-)

Do you teach style too?

Yes, of course, but it's better to add style after technique has been improved, then you can stylise more or more easily.  We aren't suggesting anyone should 'over-train' their voice though, otherwise they might lose all style or individuality!

Technique facilitates style.
— Greg Enriquez, SLS Master Teacher, Las Vegas

Do you offer group lessons?

Not at the moment, sorry.

What technique do we teach?

All of our teachers were trained in Speech Level Singing (SLS).

I've heard some ODD things about SLS, are they true?

From the guy on YouTube?  I suspect he has confused 'Speech Level Singing' with 'speech therapy’.

Or possibly he has never properly experienced SLS, or doesn't understand SLS, or has only seen a bad teacher who can't teach it properly.

SLS was precisely designed to help singers sing more easily and more strongly, without any strain or cracking.  

Singing and speaking use exactly the same vocal 'apparatus'. 

A large part of what we do is helping singers stop shouting whilst they sing.  Once they've done this, they can increase the volume, support, intensity, rasp, etc, but not before or too soon, otherwise they go back to shouting!

1. We definitely do teach support.  

2. We do teach the bright tone necesary for singing and projecting.  'Bratty NAY', for example.

3. We teach 'better' bridging not 'early bridging'.  This may be 'earlier' than if someone is 'late bridging', which from our experience is what some bad teachers teach, but they fail to realise the latter is the cause vocal strain.  We do not teach vocal strain.

We build-up the middle voice by coordinating the vocal muscles better.  Once you've reduced the strain sufficiently you can increase the strength, otherwise you will increase the strain.

4. SLS does teach the 'bright ping'.  (See also #2 above.)  This guy must have heard a bad singer, or bad teacher, or possibly he just heard part of a lesson doing some temporary 'dumb', 'dopey' or 'hootie' sounds, which we use to help get the larynx down and prevent squeezing.  These sounds are not used forever, just to help singers feel themselves using the correct vocal muscles and breath support.

5.  We do not use loads of confusing exercises.  We try to keep lessons simple and use a small amount of exercsies per student.  I commonly use about 5 key exercises, again and again, with some modifications. 

We also use some temporary sounds to help some singers find better placement.  If they don't need it, we don't give it to them.  Many singing teachers also use these temporary sounds.

The likelihood is that this guy and us are all heading towards the same thing - less strain, no cracks, more control, better range, more ease, more power - but his experience of SLS might have been limited.

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Our Method


Our Teaching Method & Proper Voice Production

Our Method


Our Teaching Method & Proper Voice Production

The vocal method we use helps to connect the different registers of the voice.

This means that the voice is able to transition smoothly from lowest to the highest note, rather than break, crack or strain (the most common and frustrating problems), which gives you the freedom to sing how you want to.

To achieve this control, a voice must have two main elements in place:

  1. The vocal cords must be able to able to come together and vibrate and adjust in pitch properly throughout the entire range.
  2. The larynx (or voice-box) must remain in a predominantly neutral or stable position.  This position helps prevent any unwanted squeezing from the swallowing muscles, which would otherwise reduce the amount vocal cords can vibrate and change pitch.  (It would be like driving with the brakes on!)

When these two factors are present, you will have more control over your voice.  It feels relaxed, engaged, connected through the register transitions from bottom to top, powerful, flexible, and it has a clearer and fuller sound.  The Italians call this 'chiaro-scuro' (light-dark); the voice has brightness and depth at the same time.


PROPER VOCAL FUNCTION 

Vibrating cords

Basically, if the vocal cords are allowed to vibrate together in a flow of air they make sound. 

For good singing, this vibration must happen without the squeezing effect of the swallowing muscles.  If this squeeze happens, it pulls the larynx up and stops the vocal cords from vibrating and adjusting in pitch as easily.  (If you rest your fingers on your Adam's apple (or the front of your throat), you can feel how swallowing raises the larynx.)  Any squeezing causes tension in the throat, which reduces the chance of a producing a clear sound or poor tone and/or poor pitching.

If the cords are NOT squeezed then they can adjust in pitch in a controlled manner with even tone/timbre. 


vocal 'BRIDGES'

The transitioning or movement of resonance from one place to another can be felt as vocal 'bridges' ('passagi' in Italian - i.e. 'passageways' in English).  A bridge is better than a break, as it is better controlled.

As a result of transitioning through a bridge, the resonance produced is felt to ascend up the vocal tract from the chest, into the mouth, behind the soft palate, and into the head. 

This leads to the sound being controlled, even, and connected, from bottom to top - without breaks, cracks, tension or noticeable changes in tone/timbre (unless stylistically desired). 


NOT 'OVER-TRAINED' or boring

Like a well-trained athlete, a healthy voice should be able to do more, for longer periods of time, with more stylistic options available, have more flexibility, more strength, have a more interesting tone, less pain, less wobbly, and ultimately be nicer to listen to. 

Stylistic changes in tone - flips, yodels, falsetto, twang, distortion, etc. - can be added when required. 

Your vocal style should be a collection of your strengths, not your weaknesses.
— John Henny, voice coach, Los Angeles

'twang'

Providing there is no unwanted squeezing, you can raise or 'tilt' the larynx to add twang into a voice.  This helps with projection but also helps the vocal cords adjust in pitch. 

(NB - Laryngeal tilt is not the same as laryngeal squeeze.)

To give the voice a stronger, fuller-sounding tone (as well as just twang), the larynx should be lowered back to a neutral position, with the tilt remaining but not the high larynx.  And never any squeeze.