For me, the question of singing lessons was always one of pure dread! I loved to sing, and wanted nothing more than to be a singer, but if you asked me to get up and sing in front of people, or take a singing lesson then I’d be running for the door!
Growing up I listened to so many amazing singers; Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and loads of others. I loved big singers and was obsessed by big high notes and how these people managed to pull it off.
I would always attempt to sing along but I just couldn’t muster any power or get the high notes. I would sing for hours and eventually make myself hoarse, but I loved it. (Although I probably didn’t sound very good!)
At high school, I studied music, playing piano to my Grade 6 exam which I loved, but I always secretly wanted to sing. Once I reached 5th year at high school (like seniors) you had to take up a second instrument. Most people added singing and took lessons from the teachers, but I was so scared of singing solo in front of people that I just couldn’t do it. I sang in the school choirs, which I loved, particularly as nobody could hear me, I just sang along as best as I could. I have great memories of singing in a 5 part harmony of Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World” at a Christmas Concert and loving every minute of it.
As I got older and left school, I started to move away from music and toward my studies at university, but I never stopped singing!
It was at this stage I discovered the joys of karaoke in the pub, with the help of a few drinks I actually managed to get up and sing solo at karaoke in front of a very busy bar.
I was delighted with myself, and this lead to a renewed burst of interest in singing. However, I still wasn’t very good and limited by a fairly small range.
My song choices would always be the same, either female songs sung an octave lower, or males songs sung up to where I could manage and then drop down the octave. Not brilliant, but I was singing in public so I didn’t care.
It was a start and as I grew up into my twenties my love of singing continued to flourish, with secret ambitions of being a musical theatre singer, or a pop singer quietly going round in the back of my head like a movie on repeat. People had always said I have a “lovely” voice, but of course, I would never believe them.
I remember when High School Musical came out, I was trying to sing Troy Bolton’s part in the very first film “Breaking Free”. No matter what I did i just couldn’t reach the notes in the chorus. Frustrated and feeling sorry for myself, I turned to Google. That was the day my singing life changed forever.
I searched for “singing technique that really works” and I found Brett Manning’s Singing Success. I read the website, watched the videos, listened to the before and after’s and I was sold. I got my credit card out and bought the CD boxset straight away.
Whilst I waited for it to arrive, I continued to struggle with the song and gave up until my CD boxset arrived. I impatiently skipped reading all the instructions and dived right in.
The first exercise was long scale on a lip bubble. I followed along, trying not to giggle at the bizarreness of what this CD was asking me to do. I thought “come on this can’t be real, blowing raspberries isn’t going to make me a better singer”.
I was so impatient and couldn’t wait to try the song, so I skipped the rest of the exercises. I went straight back to Troy’s “Breaking Free” and my brain literally exploded. After just 3 or 4 minutes of the one exercise, I sang the song straight through, reaching every high note without straining or squeezing. I couldn’t believe what had just happened, 4 minutes had changed my singing habits that I had struggled with my whole life to this point. If I hadn’t been hyper I would probably have burst into tears from the sheer shock.
I was hooked, I religiously practised every day, getting a little bit higher and a little bit further. I’m sure my neighbours probably hated me, but I was happy. Unfortunately I didn’t have a output for my new found singing voice, but I was on the path I had dreamed about, all I wanted was to become a better singer.
After working with Singing Success for a while, I grew frustrated with some of the ways it worked and looked for an alternative. I then found Speech Level Singing, which was the foundation of Singing Success.
Starting with the home study course for men and then progressing to Skype lessons with a teacher, I was hooked on singing lessons and really enjoying working towards being the singer I had dreamed about. I do confess that my first Skype lesson was a nerve racking experience. I was absolutely terrified and when I was asked to sing a song I think I found every excuse I could to get out of it.
Slowly but surely, over the years and working with different teachers in the same technique, I found my singing voice got a lot stronger. I also slowly started to lose my fear of singing in front of people. Good singing technique was helping me to get over my fear of singing! People often wonder how good technique can make you more confident a singer and I am living proof of it.
I was so amazed by the power of the technique, I decided to start teaching singing and joined the Speech Level Singing Teacher Training Program.
Over the years as I learn more and more about singing technique from a teacher’s point of view, I find I learn more and more about my own voice. I particularly love how just when I think my voice feels good, singing technique comes along and makes it feel even better.
Currently I am a Founding Director of the Institute for Vocal Advancement and teach the IVA Technique. Even though I am so busy, I still work on my own singing voice every day; working on improving my own singing technique and getting stronger as a singer.
Singing technique truly changed my life. Just think – now I get to do something I love every day, what could be better!
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