Singing Lessons at my studio in Asheville NC or over Zoom or Skype
The joy that springs from finding your own authentic sound, in the most effortless way, will show you something wonderful about yourself.
Your Voice, not someone else's.
I’ll show you a way to enter into your own sound in such a way as to truly own it, to truly know and feel that it is springing from your deepest core. This is very healing, enlightening and even revelatory. Even in beginners, when the voice is free and easy, there is a natural beauty to singing which can't be found from effort alone. For many of us, the problem is that consciously or unconsciously, we think we should sound like someone else. This inserts an artificial template over the voice which leads the singer to detest his/her sound. But it's not the sound of your voice you're hating. You're hating the sound you make when you try to copy someone else's. You will simply experience that failure and feel awful!. So many conclude from this that they have a terrible voice. But if that's what you think about your voice you don't worry. It's actually quite easy and extremely enjoyable to get to back to our natural sound because it's right there beneath whatever artifice we've put over it. And when we find it, it's like a hidden jewel reveals itself. Then a whole new but familiar world opens up within the voice.
Solomon's Secret: The true sound of you
The Sufi poet, Rumi, speaking of hunters who try to lure birds by imitating their call, laughs at the lack of what he calls "Solomon's Secret" within the hunter's call. It could be more simply termed "The ring of truth", but I prefer Rumi's phrase! When we're guided to connect to our true core, there is an authentic sound which is unique to each of us. I believe that everyone's voice has a unique beauty which, when accessed, can imbue the sound with authenticity and bring great joy to the singer. When we find the true sound of our very own natural voice there isn't a better feeiling. I've been teaching voice for forty years and helping folks find their voice is the most fun, outside of performing, I've ever had.
Not just tools but consciousness
My goal is not merely to teach principles but to help the student get to the very same consciousness which revealed those principles to me in the first place. I think this is the greatest gift a teacher can give to a student. When our powers of perception are enhanced it's only a matter of time before we 'see' how we can allow proper function to happen spontaneously. All of this begins with a natural feeling of well-being and I work with the student to maintain that as we approach the techniques.
Effort and Effortlessness
Grace in singing is something which arises out of great effort simultaneously coupled with great surrender. I can't think of another action which gives the feed-back that singing does in this regard. In the very act of producing a strong tone, we can surrender that effort in such a way as to feel the grace of effortlessness in the midst of effort. The feeling that courses through the body in that moment can only be described as ecstasy. In my own experience, this can spill over into our everyday lives imbueing all action with grace.
For Pros and Beginners
Good technique is critical for vocal-longevity if you're a performer. Freedom and grace of execution can be re-found no matter how much you've taxed your voice. It's been my privilege to work with some of the very best; David Wilcox, Peggy Seeger, John Doyle, Kat Williams, Billy Jonas, Gary Jewels and David Holt. No matter what your chosen stlye, good singing is fundamentally the same. Depending on your experience, beginner or pro, the lessons will vary greatly. But to give an idea of how we'll approach things, here below is a brief from one of the classes that I taught at the Swannanoa Gathering over the last two years.
ENJOYING YOUR VOICE
Deep down, many people don’t actually like their voices at all. Like a person who’s in the habit of making an unpleasant face just as they look in the mirror, they are actually magnifying an aspect of their voice that doesn’t please them. Of course, this causes a negative feedback loop which can perpetuate itself indefinitely, frustrating and discouraging the singer, maybe even causing them to give up. Your voice is fine! It may need a little tweaking here and there, so this class will focus on reawakening the simple joy of singing we had as kids, before someone told us we couldn’t do it. Once we evoke that enjoyment – ignition, I love to call it – we can use it to improve our voices in the most fun way (as opposed to feeling bad about it and trying to improve something you’re actually attacking). If we can get the extraordinary beauty of your spirit to show up as your own well-being, the beauty of your voice will naturally follow. Don’t think you have an extraordinary beauty of spirit? Then this class is for you!
Below are some aspects we will touch on. The classes, of course, will have their own life, with concepts jumping over each other rudely with no regard for form or function. Some aspects will naturally be given more or less time, depending on the student's needs and response. We’ll just follow the fun!
1) The Voice itself; the voice is a living thing and needs to be “courted” like a lover. Great patience is needed. Any kind of coercion or bullying will close the voice down. We’ll take a long look at how we make effort and find ways to use energy efficiently. We'll learn how to sing in tune and learn why we sometimes don't. We'll look at the various aspects of voice such as; breathing, pitch, projection, range and unifying the voice registers, i.e. the chest and head voices.
2) The Body; Posture, Breath, Sternum, Diaphragm, Eyes/Gaze. We’ll learn how to “give” ourselves a physicality which is robust enough to hold down the emotions/feelings that we want to express. We’ll explore how our relationship with gravity affects all our relationships, especially singing. We’ll learn about proper, connected breathing in a way that will imbue our voice with our feelings and intentions. We’ll learn how the Diaphragm can give great strength and support to the voice and how it can help us breathe with the least amount of energy. The Gaze is a much neglected aspect to singing; we’ll see that when our eyes are full of questions so is our voice and so is the audience. On the other hand, when our gaze is focused within, or when we have a glint in our eye, it has an immediate effect on the voice and sets the listener at ease. We’ll learn that we can be at ease even when we feel we’re not singing very well. Well-being is key. Why give up that sovereignty - for anything?
3) The Feelings; How do you feel about your voice? Are you aware of your feelings as you sing? Can you express some emotions more easily than others? Can we unite with our hearts in a way that permeates our voice? How much of our emotions should we allow into our voices. Can we direct our feelings i.e.: can we “intend” a joyous energy even if we or the material is a little down? What is key here is not denying our feelings and gently guiding the energy stream towards our intended result. Do you get anxious? I'll show you a breathing technique that will put anxiety in it's place. One key to allaying anxiety is to be ready to sing ALL THE TIME, to be available to that call, always.
4) You; Are you unkind to yourself because you feel you should have a better voice? Can we sing in such a way as to neutralize that self-doubt? Is the way you feel about yourself impacting your voice and sound? Can we use our voices to discharge negative feelings about our self/past? Can we in fact fill our hearts with joy by the act of singing? Do you want to reveal yourself as you sing? Do you have the feeling you “lose” yourself, in a negative sense, when you sing? Can we sing in such a way as to become more of who we are? Is your feeling of who you are and how you sound in sync? Does that matter to you?
5) The Music. To improve your basic musical understanding, we’ll do a lot of vocalizing; arpeggios and scales. We’ll learn that becoming more familiar with scales can fill our voices with musicality, improve our ear, making our Pitch more accurate. We’ll go deep into how to develop rhythmic acuity. Our beings are most at home when we are being rhythmic. It is possibly the most neglected aspect of vocal study. Rhythm can put you at ease very quickly, facilitating the natural desire to “play.” There is a thick fog of mystery around our next subject which I intend to help you dispel forever; The world of vocal improv. This is enormous fun and MUCH EASIER than you might think: once we become even a little familiar with the two safety nets of scales and rhythm, we will naturally feel a desire to play freely, knowing we can’t fall very far. Please don’t fret about this as we'll be guided by your comfort level, only exploring it if you feel safe.
Record your vocal tracks or demos with your vocal coach; I offer a service to singers and songwriters which I think is unique; I record your vocal tracks in my studio while coaching you to sing at your very best. This is an amazing way to get the best possible vocal track in a relaxing supportive environment with no distractions. You'll have a super clean vocal track to fly in to the software/hardware at your own studio. I've done this with many singers (including John Doyle, Erci Gentry and David Holt) who record elsewhere and bring the backing track to my studio to record vocals. For more on this contact me here.
Please contact me here if you're interested in Singing lessons