When looking for a singing teacher it is wise and advisable to have a consultation lesson with several teachers. We are naturally all different and it is quite acceptable for a perspective student to have a “one off” lesson, with no obligation, to see if a particular teacher is the right “fit” for you. The fee is £50 for a one-hour consultation. In a consultation lesson one can expect to spend a little time chatting and getting to know each other. I would normally ask a student about their past singing experience, teachers and about what is going well with the voice or what is a bit more challenging just now. I would ask about repertoire, about their current understanding of vocal technique and what their hopes and aspirations are for the future. If the student has not warmed up before the lesson I would do some simple warm up exercises, scales, arpeggios etc. If they are already warmed up I would ask them to sing a few pieces, perhaps something they know very well and find easy and also something with which they are struggling. This all gives me an opportunity for me to see what kind of a range the singer has and to detect some technical problems or issues with vowels, breathing etc We would then finish the lesson with a short chat about how to proceed.
THE NITTY GRITTY
Lessons are normally an hour long and the fee is £50. I teach at my home in Kippen where I have a large studio with new Yamaha C5 grand piano. Kippen is in central Scotland, 10 miles from Stirling, and is very easily reached by car. On public transport there are hourly buses from Glasgow to Kippen via Balfron or you take the train to Stirling and then a short bus ride to Kippen (20 mins). The bus station and train station are next door to each other. It is also possible to book a room at RCS but there is a fee of £18 per hour. Late cancellations within 24 hours of the lesson must be paid for. For students between the ages of 13 - 18, with less developed voices, lessons are normally 45 minutes approximately every 2 weeks and the charge is £30. Again late cancellations must be paid for.
References are freely given but at least a week's notice is preferable. As I am a good pianist I play for all my lessons so there is no need to bring your own accompanist unless you want to. However, it is advisable to bring your own accompanist if you are working towards a recital, exam or other important event.
Recording the lesson is encouraged so that the student can then reflect on specific things from the lesson. This is crucial for their vocal development and they can process their progress in their own time and at their own pace.
VOCAL HEALTH AND SPECIAL NEEDS
Over the years I have learned a lot about teaching students with dyslexia, dyspraxia, physical disabilities and other special needs. I have come to love these challenges and the immense rewards that accompany them when a student blossoms and flourishes in ways that neither they, nor I, thought possible. Sadly, some singers have walked into my studio either burnt out or with nodules and I have been entrusted with the awesome and sensitive task of rebuilding several damaged voices. In these circumstances I have been acutely aware of the huge amount of trust invested in me by these students who come in a very vulnerable state and I have felt the responsibility hugely. Although often daunting, this painstaking process of diagnosis and rehabilitation is hugely rewarding when one sees these damaged voices (and often damaged people!) return to good vocal health and confidence and, in some circumstances, begin a very successful singing career. Again in situations like these there is no substitute for taking things slowly.