Helping my singing students to reach their full vocal potential is my ultimate goal. That’s why I have studied lots with The Voice College.
The Association of Teachers of Singing sure provides best practice, guidelines and standards for singing teachers and vocal coaches. But, surprisingly, there isn’t a registered authorised regulatory body for private singing teachers or vocal coaches to register their qualifications. Even more surprising, there are only a few organisations that provide teachers with the right qualifications to actually teach voice. Studying to be a singer is not the same as studying to teach how to sing. And even though these few organisations do exist to provide the right tools for teachers to use, they are all very very different in their approach to it. There isn’t a standard method of learning to sing, or teaching singers how to do it, or teaching singers to teach singers!
So how would you know what method to use, what qualifications are right? I must admit, I spent many months doing my research into who I should train with. It was important to me to choose the right qualification, and to choose the right method. It’s been many years since I had any voice training, and things have changed so much in the world of teaching, and the world of voice! It’s full of science now! When I started teaching singing, I knew I was drawing upon a limited supply of knowledge and skills. I had to up my game in order to better help my students unleash their voices.
I googled (as you do!) singing teacher training. And happily The Voice College appeared before me. It appealed to me immediately. The qualifications and pathways were clearly defined and progressive, the methods were understandable and relatable, and there was a strong network of support from highly experienced singing teachers, including the principal, Dr Ria Keen (seriously, this lady is an absolute genius and guru of everything to do with the voice). I signed up, eager and hungry for knowledge.
And then I realised the enormity of learning about something I thought I already had a good grasp on! Oh boy, it almost floored me! I mean, it’s been many years since I did any kind of study (like nearly 30 years!). As I looked at the first assignment for module one, I realised it was going to take a hell of a lot of more work than I thought. I realised I knew so very little! Each module (6 modules altogether, each containing 6-9 assignments per module!) had a very strict monthly deadline for submission. Yikes! I began to think I’d taken on too much. I was already a busy lady, running a choir and arranging regular concerts, liaising with the choir band, running my own private teaching business (I teach piano too!), performing regularly as a solo singer, gigging with two acoustic duos and my band! And I’m a mum!
But nevertheless, not to be deterred, I started my studies. I gathered together information and many resources from recommended books and publications, top vocal coaches and voice science experts. Wow! Mind blown! Vocal acoustics is actually a thing! I beavered away for hours every day, soaking up everything like a sponge, filling note book after note book with awesome facts, trying out new techniques on my own voice. I shouted out amazing facts about the voice on a regular basis to anyone who would listen (or even if they didn’t listen, I did it anyway!). And then came the time to write up my first assignment. Double yikes!
Well, I hadn’t composed an essay for years! I tentatively put pen to paper and …..nothing. Absolutely nothing! I had 1 week to get my first assignment in. Trying not to panic, I drew upon my experience as a training consultant when I worked for a bank (in a previous life!). Okay, I can do this, I thought to myself. Mind maps were my thing back then. Thank goodness I remembered that. The mind map gave me a good base to start from. After some time scribbling away, I started my first draft. Five days to go!
Four days to go. I was into my stride. I was going to nail this assignment. Easy peasy now I was on a roll.
Three days to go. Oh #&£@! So I re-read the brief. And I realised I hadn’t actually answered the questions at all. Seriously, I went into a blind panic! It hit me at that point that I had thrown so much of myself into studying, I had to get this right. I wanted desperately to get this right. It was so important for my students (both current and future) that I got this right so I could give them what they expected of me, and more. It was important for my business that I got this right so I could continue to be successful. It was important to me to get this right so I could take pride in what I do every day with so many wonderful singers. I had to do my ultimate best.
Two days to go. And breathe… ! After a cuppa and consuming an unhealthy quantity of chocolate, I started again on my first draft. This time, I knew I was on the right track. I quoted, I cross-referenced, I indexed, I labelled, and spell checked, and proof read until I could barely focus my eyes! It was a long day!
One day before deadline. Okay, there was a few minor tweaks and I was honestly pooping my pants but I began my uploads. Even that part was stressful! I was using technology and online platforms I’d never used before, I mean, anything could have gone wrong. But luckily, it didn’t. I think I must have stopped breathing throughout the whole upload. But finally, I emailed my tutor to let her know the first assignment was in, and please could she check that I’d sent everything I should have done. I ached all over with tension! This was a big deal to me. Huge. Massive! You can imagine after two weeks of waiting for my first results how ecstatic I was to get a Distinction!
Well, that was just the first assignment! Overall, the first course I did (teach contemporary singing) took six months to complete. It was a full on, jump in at the deep end, six months. Non stop learning and I loved it, loved it, loved it! I was desperate for top marks for every assignment, and I achieved some distinctions for some of the modules, but, guttingly, not all of them. So I was disappointed with myself not to get an overall distinction for the completed course. However, I did get an upper merit (next one down to a distinction!)! And of course I was actually really proud of myself. I worked my butt off to get that. The next course I studied (working with adolescent voices), I made sure I went for gold and achieved the Distinction I was after.
The thing is, the tutors at The Voice College are amazingly well qualified, knowledgeable, experienced and skilled people. They have super high expectations. Of course they do. They have to have confidence in their students. After all, the value of their work is reflected in mine, and vice versa. This is why The Voice College give out a logo, or Graduate Seal which is a “badge of honour” given only to those who qualify with Upper Merit or above. The Seal is confirmation of being a properly-qualified vocal coach and I’m so very proud to have achieved it. Should I brag about it? Of course I should! And now you know.