So, on Friday I was rehearsing for my recording sessions later this month for my covers album. I managed to organise some studio time and some one to one teaching with Jenny May (expressivevoice.co.uk), my current vocal coach.
Jenny to me is an example of an incredible teacher. And I have been lucky enough to have a few. Having sung professionally for many years, I thought I had a pretty good handle on my voice and what I could do, and then I had a lesson with Jenny.
Her knowledge is incredibly extensive. After assessing where you are vocally, Jenny gets you to hit notes and achieve tone you didn’t know you could. She finds the exact exercises and techniques that work for your voice and teaches you to use these skills in a totally authentic way for you as an artist, enabling you to take your performance to where you want it to go.
Needless to say I am always on a total high after my sessions with Jenny and Friday was no exception. This got me thinking about the other vocal coaches I have had as an adult, and how grateful I am to them for the generosity with which they give their knowledge.
Before Jenny, I worked with Susan Blair, who is technically amazing. I met Susan when I started my foray into pop. Her CV of clients like Jenny’s is crazily impressive.
Before that Mark Hayden. An opera singer in his day, his methods were very traditional and he did make me sing opera; something I hadn’t done since school, but the richness of tone he managed to get me to access was something. Mark sadly passed away a number of years ago – he was a wonderful man.
And when I decided to get back to singing Jazz after I had my kids, I found Karen Lane and Anita Wardell. Both great jazz singers and vocal coaches.
I am a firm believer that people come into your life for a reason – good or bad – and I found these teachers at exactly the time I needed them and my experiences with all of them were positive and unique.
The thing they all have in common is not musicianship, or what they have studied – it is they truly love to teach.
And this is where I fall down a little. I love helping people – full stop. It doesn’t have to be musically or vocally related, but it can be. Friends who are singers will sometimes ask for pointers and I happily suggest exercises and different approaches.
But I would much rather just help, give advice as a friend; and as a singer I would rather be writing, exploring, performing or recording…that intangible passion a true teacher has is just not in me, not to the same extent.
I have been reminded recently that the more you learn, the more there is to learn. And I love to learn. Maybe one day I will be ready to impart knowledge, but I don’t think I’m there yet. But never say never…