A) Everyone's voice will improve with lessons. However, some people have greater potential than others and this will depend upon a number of factors. The voice assessment that I offer has been specifically developed to provide you with definitive answers about your voice.
Q) How long will it take to learn?
A) This depends upon the individual, as some people progress faster than others. It also depends on how frequently you have lessons, your age, condition, physiology and whether you have bad vocal habits that need to be corrected. The trial session will help to answer this question.
Q) What can I expect to happen in a lesson?
A) The lesson will start with relaxation exercises designed especially for vocal work. Once you are calm and stress free, breathing and muscle support will follow. This will enhance your vital (lung) capacity, increasing your power and giving you greater control over that power. You will then move on to simple vocal exercises that will expand your range, give your voice flexibility and develop its tone and character. Next you will work on material of your choice, learning diction, phrasing and how to apply the breathing and support techniques you have learned, to maximum effect. Depending upon your requirements and the course that you have chosen, you may also work on points such as mic technique, audition technique, ear training, etc.
Q) I have had vocal training, but am unhappy with the results. Is this my teacher's fault or my fault?
A) Many people who come to me have previously had some form of vocal training. In some cases they have worked with a teacher or teachers for years, with little or no improvement, in other cases they have worked with a teacher who has taught them bad habits, or worse still, has damaged their voice. It is not your fault if you have been taught incorrectly, so do not blame yourself or allow this to put you off further training. If you are unhappy with your current teacher or past training and want to see just how much you can improve in two hours, try my trial session.
Q) I trained with a teacher who insisted on working with me in a 'classical style'. Now I am unable to sing in any other style. Can you help me?
A) Because many teachers have been trained classically (and have only performed in this style or have never performed at all), this is all that they can teach. Although the fundamentals of good vocal technique are common to all styles of music and dialogue work, the way in which they are applied can be dramatically different. Having sung everything from punk to opera, I have an intimate knowledge of how to easily and practically apply these techniques to any style that you may wish to sing. Since I am used to working with people who have had previous training, I can also correct any bad habits that you might have picked up from your previous teacher.
Q) Why does my throat hurt when I sing/speak?
A) You are compressing your throat, which is stressing your vocal chords and may eventually cause damage. The proper vocal tuition will solve this problem.
Q) Why do I need to strain to reach the high notes?
A) Either you are using your voice incorrectly, or you are singing in the wrong key. By learning the correct technique, you will be able to expand your range to comfortably cope with the 'high notes' and will learn which keys are best suited to your voice.
Q) Why is it that I sometimes sing out of tune?
A) There is a tendency to sing sharp if nervous and flat if the voice is not properly supported. Good technique and the confidence it brings will correct this. However you may also need (some) ear training.
Q) Do you offer ear training?
A) Yes and I make it very simple and enjoyable.
Q) Why can't I fit in all the words and/or last out to the end of a sentence?
A) A line or sentence in a song is called a phrase. Phrasing is the art of combining rhythm, timing and the accentuation of the words with the music, so that all the words fit. Add to this the understanding of where to breathe and not only will you be able to seamlessly fit lyrics to music, you will easily last out to the end of a phrase.
Q) Why do I get so nervous?
A) Nerves are caused by a lack of confidence in your own ability. By learning to relax and use your voice correctly, you will become confident, alleviating anxiety, stress and tension.
Q) When I perform, it takes two or three songs before my voice warms up and then it gets tired before the end of the gig. Why is this and what can I do about it?
A) Before performing, it is vital to warm up the voice with special exercises. Understanding how to use the voice correctly will help you to develop much greater vocal stamina, so that at the end of a performance your voice is still fresh.
Q) I don't like the sound of my voice. When I compare it to other performers it sounds dull and lifeless. Why is this?
A) You are comparing your untrained/partially trained/incorrectly trained voice with performers who have trained professionally. Correct vocal training will develop the character of your voice to its full potential, making it sound warm, rich, strong and vibrant.
Q) Why don't I have any/enough power in my voice?
A) You are lacking the necessary breathing and support techniques. Strengthening your support muscles and learning to apply these techniques will enable your voice to grow progressively more powerful.
Q) Is there anything that I can do to strengthen these muscles?
A) Yes! You will be given personalised exercises at your first lesson, which will be continually updated as your muscles strengthen.
Q) I have to prepare two pieces for a college audition but don't know what to choose. Can you advise me and help me to prepare?
A) Definitely! I will instinctively know what suits you best when I hear your voice. Many people have come to me for just this reason and as a result of working with me, have been accepted at their first audition by well known music and drama colleges including The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Italia Conti and Mountview.
Q) The songs that I want to work on have explicit lyrics. Is this a problem for you?
A) No, absolutely not. You name it, I've worked on it!
Q) Does studying with you involve reading music?
A) No, you will not need to read or learn to read music .unless you want to do so..
Q) I am tone deaf. Can I still learn to sing?
A) Absolutely! I have cured 'tone deafness' in numerous people, using my own special ear training method. However, if you are tone deaf (or believe yourself to be), it will take you longer to learn to sing than it would the average person, as you will need to spend time learning how to sing in tune, before vocal training can commence.
Q) Can a person be too young or too old to study voice?
A) The vocal chords, like the body, grow and change into the late teens/early twenties. During this time it is essential to nurture the voice, working with it carefully and gradually. Many voice teachers will not work with young voices because they lack the experience to do so, can only relate to adults, or are afraid of damaging the voice. However, training a young voice correctly is safe and will cause no harm. Once the vocal chords have fully developed, the voice may be trained at a faster pace, regardless of how old one is. I work with people aged seven to seventy.
Q) My son's voice has broken. He is very embarrassed and no one seems able to help. Can you?
A) Definitely! I have re-established broken voices very rapidly.
Q) I have been told that I have nodes on my vocal chords. Is there anything that you can do for me?
A) Nodes are caused by incorrect use of the voice. If they are in their early stages, learning correct vocal technique can prevent them from worsening and in some cases may actually reverse them. However, if they are in an advanced stage, surgery may be necessary. In either situation, I can offer advice and can work with you remedially, having done so successfully in a number of cases.
Still have a question that has not been answered?
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Q) I have been diagnosed with partly paralysed vocal chords, by a specialist. When I speak and sing, my voice produces a constant clicking sound. Is there anything that you can suggest?
A) I have only experienced this problem once before, but was successful in eliminating this clicking through very careful remedial work. While I cannot promise to solve this, I am happy to try.
Q) I am asthmatic. Is this a problem?
A) No, in actual fact the exercises that you will be taught may help your asthma, as you will be learning to relax and take in more air. I have successfully taught many people with asthma.
Q) Does it matter if I drink alcohol?
A) Alcohol is OK in moderation, but never before singing, as it affects the vocal chords. Some people drink for courage before a performance. However, by learning to relax and use your voice correctly you will become confident, alleviating nerves, stress, tension and the need to use alcohol for this purpose.
Q) Does it matter if I smoke?
A) Smoking is bad for general health and you need to be fit to perform well. It will coarsen the sound of your voice and limit your breathing capacity. However I am not judgemental. If you smoke and are unwilling/unable to quit, at least try to cut down. Your voice can still be trained and will improve, but will never reach its full potential.
Q) Do you teach piano?
A) No, I teach voice.
Q) Where do you teach?
A) I am based in North London. However, by special arrangement I offer lectures, workshops, masterclasses, etc. in other locations (please see corporate price list for details).
Q) Are you easy to reach by road/public transport?
A) Yes, I am conveniently located near to both the M1 & M25, with easy parking (no restrictions), close to Thameslink (BR), Northern and Jubilee line stations and on two bus routes. For international travellers, both Heathrow and Luton airport are within easy reach.
Q) When do you teach?
A) Due to popular demand, I work most days of the week from mid morning until 10pm, subject to my availability.
Q) Is there a long wait to see you?
A) There is an average wait of two weeks for an initial session, after which lessons can usually be arranged a week or less in advance. However, if you have to perform or audition unexpectedly, it may be possible to see you at short notice.
Q) How long is a lesson?
A) With the exception of the voice assessment (which is half an hour), lessons are always one, one and a half, or two hours. This will be determined by the condition of your voice and you will be advised about this during your first lesson (and reviewed as you progress), as too long a session may strain the voice through overuse.
Q) If I book a course, how often should I have lessons?
A) One lesson a week is optimal, but if you are in a rush to improve, or need to work on new material because of upcoming performances or recording sessions, or because you live too far away for regular travel (people come to me from all over the world), I can work with you intensively. The maximum time I suggest between lessons is one month, as with longer gaps you are likely to start losing the benefits of your improvements.
Q) If I book a course, do I have to block book all of my lessons in one go?
A) Only if you are booking an intensive course, otherwise you may book your lessons as you go along (subject to availability).
Q) What if I can't make a lesson that I have booked?
A) Lessons may be cancelled or rearranged, at no penalty, with a minimum of 48 hours notice. Notice of 24 to 48 hours will incur a 50% charge. There will be no refund or credit for lessons changed or cancelled with less than 24 hours notice.
Q) I would like to give someone a lesson/course as a gift. Is this possible?
A) Absolutely! Gift vouchers are available for all tuition options.