Why the Guildhall?
I totally loved it there! My decision to apply there was based on a teacher I already knew who taught there (from a summer school I had been to). It has a great alumni of dramatic voices and “real artists”.
Should everyone do exams?
Exams aren’t for everyone and sometimes certain ones are better than others depending on who you are. Sight reading is quite a key thing in singing exams (ABRSM) but the LCM exams focus less on this. If you want to do exams to get a music scholarship or get into music college, then that’s great. Otherwise I normally follow a repertoire that builds development with the singer and include the exam syllabus repertoire into this.
What has been your highlight?
I did a UK Premier with Simon Rattle at the Barbican and in 2018 a Garsington Opera production at the Barbican which was award winning.
What piece would you recommend people listen to, to inspire them to take up singing?
The Final Trio of Der Rosenkavalier Opera by Strauss – the opening phrase is amazing to think it is a voice!
Is it is a good idea to learn another instrument alongside singing?
It is really helpful for both musicality and musical theory to learn another instrument. I started piano but failed my grade 2 at age 9, but I still continued to learn the piano for a bit! Those who learn another instrument as well do tend to progress much faster with singing I would say though.
How did you fund your studies?
There are loads of funds out there and clearly for a music degree you can get the same university support as other subjects but then even for my masters there are funds available and my Opera School was fully funded. Opera has lots of supporters who can fund your studies and it is a very charitable area of music. Teaching along the way is also a great way to help. I even set up my own fund raising campaign to support my postgraduate studies which helped!
What is your approach to teaching?
Inclusive, encouraging and confidence building, and always based on science i.e. I always explain what is happening and why. I am quite firm; I don’t want to let someone get away with not achieving their full potential or doing their best. The most rewarding part of teaching is seeing someone achieve something that they really didn’t think they would be able to achieve. I had a 9 year old who was very quiet, then they progressed to being able to stand up and sing at a school concert which was incredibly rewarding. It is great to see the confidence you can build with people and the transformation that can happen.