The Voice of Ireland

Singing Competition Ireland

Applications are now open

 

The Voice of Ireland has been in touch to say that they are looking for singers to apply for their new series. If this is something you would be interested, you can click this link to fill in the form.

The closing date for applications is midnight on Sunday 31st August.

Anyone applying will have to be available sometime in the first and second week of September for auditions.

Good luck!

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Why Send Your Children to Music Lessons?

As I go through life as a musician and a music teacher it is increasingly fascinating to see the approaches of parents to music lessons. Some commit fully to making sure their child develops to the best of their ability, some send their child and hope that something good will happen and some have absolutely no inclination to send their children to music lessons.

Guess which ones I find the most interesting!

Youth orchestra and consuctor

Orchestras can give children a chance to travel internationally and make friends!
(©Bernard & Myrtha Garon)

Well, why should they send their kids to music lessons? It can be expensive! And you might have to drive them to and from the classes, not to mention optional extras like choirs, orchestras or musicianship lessons. Once you set them down the road of music, who knows where it will lead!

I hear you, parents! There is a lot to consider! But consider, too, the positive things that your child will gain from music lessons. Quite aside from being proficient at an instrument there is a world of intellectual, emotional and social skills to be learned through music lessons.

Learning music is not solely about becoming the next Lang-Lang or Pavarotti, if it were then we couldn’t walk in a straight line without hitting multiple prodigies. The truth of the matter is than when we teach music we are teaching listening, focus, empathy, expression and patience among other things. We are educating the doctors, teachers, citizens and concert-goers of the future! We want to instill these very important qualities in them!

music for kids

Playing music together encourages children to work as a team.
(Photo: © PanARMENIAN Photo / Davit Hakobyan)

Not only that but learning music in a group situation like musicianship classes, orchestras or choirs helps children to form meaningful friendships outside of their usual social circle. Through playing together (multiple meanings intended!) humans develop lasting bonds and learn how to cooperate in a group situation. This is particularly important for personal development.

So for those who are thinking “Why should I send my kids to music lessons?” I hope I’ve given you a few good reasons to consider it. After all: once you set them down the road of music, who knows where it will lead…

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5 Tips on What to Expect at Your First Singing Lesson

If there is one thing that I’ve noticed in the last years of teaching adult beginners it’s that everyone is pretty nervous to start off. I don’t blame them, singing in front of one person can feel a little strange and the thought of it is really what makes many people too anxious to start singing lessons. With this in mind I thought it might be a good idea to give you an idea of what to expect when you step through the door for the first time, and some tips to get the most from this session.

Cork Music Lessons

What to expect at your first lesson…


1. Lesson One is often not a lesson at all.

When you first step into the room with your new vocal coach or singing teacher, you probably won’t be asked to start singing an operatic aria on the spot! The teacher will want to talk to you about your experience, even if it’s minimal and what you hope to achieve in the lessons. Then he or she will listen to your voice by playing a few short and easy melodies on the piano and asking you to copy them. This will help the teacher to assess what approach is best to take with your voice and what material may suit you. If you feel comfortable, you may be asked to sing a song you like for the teacher to get an idea of your phrasing, diction and breathing.

2. Know what you want from singing lessons.

“I’m just doing it for enjoyment,” is a great approach to have to singing lessons! Teachers love to hear that adults and young people alike are learning to sing because they love it. Even if you are not considering exams or taking to the stage, it is important to have a few goals in mind to help you to progress in your singing. After all, what you can achieve is limitless and it’s rewarding to have markers to show how far you’ve come.

Here are some goals you might consider:
-To be able to sing in a choir and feel confident.
-To know a certain number of songs off-by-heart by the New Year.
-To gain the confidence to sing at a social gathering. 

 

Think carefully

Think about what you would like to achieve in singing lessons, and what music you would like to sing.

3. Make a list!

It will help the teacher and you both if you can make a list of the music you are interested in singing before your first lesson. Often when people are put on the spot, they panic and can’t even remember one song they like! Making a list of the type of songs you would like to sing will give the teacher an idea of what vocal style you’re most interested in and how to get you there. Don’t worry about suitability, your teacher will advise you when he/she assesses your voice. Dream big!

4. Weird things happen in singing lessons…

Although your teacher won’t expect you to sing a big number on the spot, you may find yourself going through a lot of breathing exercises and stretches. It’s best to understand that although this may seem strange, when we sing our bodies are our instrument and it’s crucial to have the apparatus in good working order! For some pupils breathing takes months, for others it is simply a few weeks. The main thing is not to be caught off guard when your teacher asks you to close your eyes and become aware of the position of your feet or similar!

Singing advice

Always keep a record of exercises and tips your teacher gives you.

5. Keep records.

The best way to make progress from one lesson to the next  is to keep a journal of each lesson. Singing teachers say A LOT of things during a lesson that you will need to remember, so it’s best to either keep a paper journal or to record the lesson on a dictaphone or other device. (Remember to ask your teacher if it’s ok to record first!) Keeping an audio recording is useful as you can listen back and sing along with exercises. It’s also a great way of seeing how much you have improved from week to week!

Make sure you bring paper and a pen to your first lesson at the very least, as you may be asked to do a few exercises or research singers or songs before your next lesson.

 

So there we have it! I hope that this helps you to prepare for your first lesson! If you have any queries about starting singing lessons, you can comment below!

 

Happy singing!

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The most wonderful (and busiest time) of the year!

At the risk of annoying the people who like to wait until December: Hurray for Christmas! When you’re a musician or teacher, Christmas starts EARLY! There are carols that need to be sourced and learned in time for the holidays, concerts that must be organised and planning the schedule for which recitals are happening when. Most of my students have started their Christmas carols now and will be fully ready to play them for friends and family over the festive season.

It’s hard to feel cynical about the early start of Christmas these days when you see the work that the younger pupils put into learning their pieces. If we left it until December they would only have two or three lessons and that would never do! A slow build up of gradual progress is definitely a nicer alternative to panic stations at the beginning of December… But maybe I’m just a Christmas-aholic. 😉

Christmas music

The festive season takes a lot of work from musicians, but it’s always worthwhile!

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Exciting term!

It’s so lovely to be back into the swing of things again! All my students have returned to me for lessons, as well as a few new faces. Quite a lot of adult singers seem to find me through this blog, which is great! I love seeing the looks on people’s faces when they alter a few small technical things and hear a big change in sound.

As always, the biggest obstacle with adult students is nerves. Once we brush those aside there’s no limit to what we can achieve. My younger learners are back in piano-mode again. I eased them in nicely, trying not to shock their systems after a long summer break. (Although, I was surprised to find that most of them played piano over the summer holidays! Always a good sign!)

It’s great to be teaching again, and my own musical pursuits have taken off, too! With a vocal recital coming up in at Christmas time, andideas brewing for writing a new album, I’ll certainly be keptbusy up to the New Year!

My most recent performance was a recital of a selection of German Lieder, French art song and Opera at Cork School of Music. It was a great afternoon and it felt like a positive way to start off a new term!

Singing teacher

Singing bridesmaid!

Just before the recital, I was honoured to sing a song for my very dear friends Kylie and Matt at their wedding in early September. The song was “Rainbow Connection” from the Muppet Movie. It’s Kylie’s favourite song! I planned a little surprise for the end. I arranged that all of Kylie’s friends stand up and sing the last verse together. It was really beautiful! I was a bridesmaid too, so I was so pleased that I could contribute to their day.

 

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September means a fresh start!

Who doesn’t love September? We can already feel that the air is fresher, which is very welcome after the hot and humid summer we’ve had. The sun is still shining as everyone dons their school uniforms once more and creates unfathomable morning and evening traffic chaos again. New stationary! New school shoes! And very importantly: returning to music lessons again. (Or for the first time!)

Now don’t worry, as the Sorting Hat’s rhyme goes in Harry Potter:

“Our heads could do with filling,
With some interesting stuff,
For now they’re bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff.”

We teachers know what it’s like to come back to lessons after a long time!  That may mean two months, or twenty years. Either way, there’s no need to be shy, you should just march in and try your best!

I am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things and have already begun this term’s teaching. This summer has been very busy with a LOT of singing! Between recitals, concerts and the weddings of two very dear friends, this  summer has been exhausting and satisfying. I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to teaching, though I have one more recital to give tomorrow.

Song writer

Singing to 1500 people in London, August 2013.

If you’d like to enquire about lessons, please check out my CONTACT PAGE

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How to Learn Music

Image

It’s been a HECTIC few months! Quite a few adult singers have started singing lessons with me this year and the main theme with all of them is confidence!

Every time I meet a new student, we have a chat about what they want to achieve, what their experience has been and we figure out together where they’re starting. Every single adult student I am teaching at the moment has expressed a wish to be confident enough to sing a song when they’re out and about, or to be able to play a song without stumbling because of nerves.

This is really interesting and the good news is that going for lessons is the very first step in gaining that confidence! When you are playing every week for your teacher, you’re not just note-bashing, you’re becoming experienced in allowing another person to hear you. Your teacher will encourage you to do your best and give everything a try, regardless of what it sounds like. In this way, you learn to get used to the idea that an instrument will NEVER be played perfectly all the time. Mistakes are made everyday and we learn from them! Through making mistakes, correcting them and moving on, we perfect our technique and learn to feel confident about our ability.

When you take that leap to get lessons, you will not be asked to perform a concerto on demand! You will take everything in easy-to-manage steps, one after the other. Over time, you will see an improvement and wonder at where you started.Your first teacher might not be the right one for you, but there are countless teachers out there, and you’re sure to find ‘the One!’

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