Friday, 21 June 2013

A Bit About Vocademy....

Vocademy Singing Lessons
If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that I have a soft spot for Vocademy ( because I adore their passion, professional attitude and innovative approach. So, this week I thought I'd let them have a bit of a chat about who they are and what they do... so, over to the guys and gals...

"Hello, my name is Jenna; I work in the office of Vocademy, which is a company offering singing lesson to all ages and ability. If you call or email us, it’ll be me you speak to. I deal with enquiries, support the teachers and liaise with parents and students. Everyday I head to our office in the creative City of Brighton to develop Vocademy – making it the best it can be for aspiring singers. There are four of us running the show: Damo, Sam, Luke and myself - all passionate about music, education and giving opportunity to people.  On top of that we have an ever-growing team of wonderful and experienced teachers who work hard across the UK to motivate, support and guide the students of Vocademy.

Group singing (7-18yrs)
The group classes run part-time over the course of ten weeks. These sessions are really interactive and focus on confidence building. Each session they learn valuable singing skills and techniques, which they utilise as they then work on a modern pop song together. The classes are split into three age groups enabling the kids to explore singing in a comfortable environment, developing their skills as they progress through Vocademy. In the office we come up with ways of making the course structure exciting and rewarding for the youngsters, so it constantly evolves. This term we had a live musician week and a performance week, both gave our children the chance to experience different aspects of singing, have even more fun and perform songs of their choice. At the end of each term we organise a local gigs for the children, parents, teachers and ourselves to enjoy and celebrate the student’s progress. For me, my main involvement is talking to parents and students when they call to enquire. From these enquiries I set up free taster sessions, enrol students and follow up on their progress – keeping in constant contact with the teachers and parents throughout each term. So, although I am working in the office, I still maintain a relationship and involvement as Vocademy’s first port of call.

Private tuition (all ages).
Our private tuition is set up to aid each individual student to whatever his or her want and need is. I deal with 1-2-1 enquiries and organise free consultations with a teacher in their area. I love speaking to new students; the people who contact me all vary. It could be someone wanting to get some extra guidance before a show/audition, or even somebody who has never sung before and wants to start from scratch. My favourite enquiry for 1-2-1 tuition was from a gentleman who had no experience in singing but, for his anniversary, wanted to learn a song to surprise his wife! Anything goes here at Vocademy, we are here to help and our teachers are trained, motivated and ready for anything. 

So, that is an insight on what we are about and what the office team and I get up to. All four of us are working really hard to run and develop Vocademy. If you want to keep updated we are on Facebook and Twitter where we feed news, blogs, singing tips and interact with our students, parents and teachers.

Singing brings a feeling of self-expression, release and confidence. Whether it is a hobby, a new interest or a life-long ambition! As a performer myself, I love that I work for a company who helps and encourages people to experience the joy of singing. It’s feels like a real community and I am proud to be a part of it."

See, I told you these guys were the best!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Top Ten Singers... Do You Agree?

I realised the other day that I haven't done one of these Top Ten thingymajigs that seem so popular these days. So, here's one for you.... in fact, here's one compiled by and, what's even better is that it's the Top 100! Brucey Bonus or what! 
But, what I found most interesting was that out of the Top Ten... only 3 were male! So, let's hear it for the boys... Whoop to Michael Jackson, Johnny Gill and Usher who managed to sneak in there. Biggest congrats though have to go to the Number One choice of Christina Aguilera.She probably won't be everybody's first choice but there are a few things about her and her style that do make her a definite worthy contender for holding the top spot. For example she has a very emotional voice and can be powerful and dramatic but also soft and gentle when needed to do so.
Here's the Top Ten list for those of you who didn't fancy pressing the link button:
 1. Christina Aguilera
2. Mariah Carey
3. Michael Jackson
4. Celine Dion
5. Johnny Gill
6. Whitney Houston
7. Beyonce
8. Alicia Keys
9. Avril Lavigne
10. Usher
There you go... any surprises (Avril)? Anybody obvious missing (Kelly C)... let me know what you think :)
Until next time... keep singing!

Singing Lessons... Do They or Do They Not?!

So, when you watch a program like The X Factor or The Voice can you tell immediately which of the contestants have taken singing lessons? How do you know whether natural talent is trumping vocal coaching?
There's obviously been a lot of these 'talent' programs since the initial Hearsay days gone by, and I would say that we're all getting pretty accustomed to being able to tell a great vocalist from a bit of a naff one. I'd even go so far as to say most of us can spot those who have had singing lessons against those who have quite possibly peaked already. For example, if you remember the original auditions for the top singers that are Kelly Clarkson or even Will Young, you can without a doubt see the style still their today... albeit it a diamond in the rough.

But one thing I do like to watch with these TV shows s just how the singers react to vocal coaching and technique classes over the final weeks. A particularly great example was Leona Lewis and how she responded in the most fantastic manner to the singing lessons that were put her way.
Can you think of any other singers who started out 'OK' and then with the help of vocal coaches and the like were able to become AMAZING? 
Cheryl Cole? Hmmm... the jury is out on that one :)

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Pro-Mic Technique from a Singing Teacher

As a singing teacher a lot time gets spent working with students on their microphone technique. Becoming a master of the mic is a hugely important part of any performance. Therefore, technique with a microphone should be perfected and practiced at every possible opportunity so it can truly be mastered.

As an example. if you watch Jessie J singing you will notice she has professional and powerful mic that is different from the standard Shure SM58 mic. But, do not let this fool you Miss J is a microphone wizard and would sound equally as fantastic on a £10 Argos microphone!

Whilst singing teachers will have their own variations the following is a useful list to help you get the most out of the mic you use and develop great technique.

1.     Hold the microphone in your hand. It means it will be easier to move than stationery placed in a stand and will give you more control whilst helping to develop performance skills.
2.     Sing into the microphone properly! Too obvious!? But, you need to remember that a mic is directional and so the closer (or louder) you get to it, the louder the sound will come out of the speakers, which is great for dynamics. Ideally you should sing with the microphone head around an inch away from your mouth. Touching the mic head itself with your lips will only increase distortion (and, with a mic jammed into your chops quite probably bad diction!).
3.     A singer needs to sing directly into the head of the microphone.Don't try to look cool by tilting it down and singing into it from below... it will not sound good.
4.     The microphone is the shape it is for a reason. Hold the body and keep your hands off the round mesh head because this will alter the produced sound and can result in feedback.
5.     Always check the length of your mic lead to ensure you won't be fighting for more cord, or, pinging yourself backwards like a comedy cartoon character on elastic! It will not look cool either way :)
6.     And, always remember my 3 P's rule... Practice, practice and practice!! It really does make perfect you know.

And, that's it for today. Hope it proves helpful :)


Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The Age of Singing... When Should you Start?

One question both myself and singing teachers I know get asked a lot is 'how old should you be before you start taking singing lessons?' My personal answer on this issue depends on what is trying to be accomplished. For example, if the person asking me about the lessons is a parent who is looking at taking their youngster and turning them into the next Charlotte Church singing prodigy, then I would say they need to wait until they are around the 9-10 year old stage. AND, and this is really important, they need to want to do the lessons themselves. It's no good trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. If the child doesn't want to sing and has no real interest then lessons will be wasted as they may attend, improve, but never really reach their full potential through a lack of desire and passion. Remember, square peg, round hole... it's very important.

However, if you have a little 'un that is just so in love with the sound of their own voice and wants to sing along to everything and anything. Then, for me, it's never too young to get involved in the wonderful world of music. But, it depends in what capacity. My personal belief is that starting young (7 years old for example) should be fun! And, then you should add a pinch of FUN! Things like sight singing and music theory may be a sure fire way of killing their enthusiasm and making the lessons so dull that they will lose all interest. Things like singing classes in groups of other children, or school workshops like those the school provide, or, even just modern pop songs being taught in a manner that keeps them interested, excited and wanting to improve would be my personal preference.

School workshops (for example, check out - who provide school workshops for Children of all ages, but mainly primary) particularly these days are gaining momentum and there are some great practitioners and music teachers out there who are really flicking the switch in children's minds and getting them not only interested in music at an early age, but also driving their passion, belief and building confidence. In addition to school workshops for children there are also many professional singing schools out there that will place your child in classes with likeminded children and young, funky teachers who again will inspire instead of quashing all passion.

Anyway, back to the question... how old? For me, if the youngster is really interested and wants to learn in a backhanded way via workshops or singing classes... realistically, I would say about 7 years old. For more traditional style singing lessons or school workshop style lessons 9-10 years of age.

As usual, I personally also recommend - because they provide singing courses and singing classes for 7-18 years of age with brilliant singing teachers!

And, that's it... hope that helps, but let me know if you have any other opinions, stories or experience you'd like to share.

Thanks :)

Monday, 29 April 2013

Teachers to Inspire... who are your faves?

The best microphone ever!
Now, I'm getting on a bit. Oh, please, I know I look 21 but I'm actually a touch older... anyway, even I had teachers as a youngster that inspired me. And, after chatting with friends over the weekend it became clear that they did as well. A great, inspirational teacher will be able to get you to put more effort into reaching your goals and work harder. They will also be able to develop ability and especially the arena of singing teaching, improve technique, experience, performance skills and develop confidence.

Now, it wouldn't really be that great if my blog named (and shamed) those teachers that have inspired me, because Mr Wilkinson who dragged the best out of me for a good couple of years would mean nothing to you... so, instead, lets take a look at some modern inspirational teachers and figure out what their strengths are, as this may help you when picking your own singing tutor.

1. Steve Irwin (RIP) – Yep, the Crocodile Hunter. What's he got to do with anything I hear you scream!? Steve Irwin had two things that any great teacher should have... passion and enthusiasm. This guy would be covered head to toe in mud while wrestling a croc and still be able to throw out a line about how big this 'little fella' would be 2 years from now. Enthralling to watch and with a never-ending love for his subject matter, Steve should be an inspiration to not only teachers worldwide but every human on the planet. Ripper mate... sadly missed :(

2. Horrible Histories
– Haha, I kid you not! This TV show has more awards than you can shake a stick at. And why? Because it proves that delivery is everything. History I hear you say... Boooooring! Zzzzz.... nope, not here! What Horrible Histories does it take this subject and make it funny, interesting, lively and just brilliant! Energy and passion mixed with a delivery to make not only children sit-up and take note is a perfect combination.

3. Jamie Oliver – Boo! Hiss... I know, Jamie stopped you eating burgers and pizza for school dinners! But, that's the point. Mr Oliver had an ideal and believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that he could realise it and make it happen. Jamie Oliver appears to believe that you can improve something and stands out as someone who really cares. Every inspirational teacher shows this trait. A teacher who really cares is worth 100 who are technical experts.

4. David Beckham – Now we're getting ridiculous right? What Becks brings to the table is different to the other teachers and he brings leadership and high standards (well, with the exception of youth on the odd occasion, but he more than made up for that for sure!). David Beckham leads by example and everyone in his team will go the extra mile for him knowing that he will put everything into the cause. Whether it’s flying half way across the world to sit on the bench at an international match or helping this country secure the Olympic bid, one thing is for certain David will give 100% for the cause and never give in.

These are just four inspirational teachers I thought of from my own personal list of faves. But, who are yours? Who make you go 'I really admire that'? Next time you do, analyze and think about what it is exactly you admire.

A great teacher will not just teach at their students - as the above examples show, they will engage them via methods that they can enjoy, relate to or feel passionate about.

When you call about booking a lesson with a singing teacher, or you go visit someone for a free taster session ask yourself if the singing teacher in front of you is going to inspire you to want to be more. Are they going push you in ways that you will respond to? Or, are they just going through the motions? All completely pertinant questions to make sure you get the most and best for your money, but also that your passion and enhtusiasm is not only maintained, but augmented and continues to grow.

Special thanks to Vocademy ( for inspiring this blog.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Want to Make Cheap Recordings? Check this advice...

Recording in a studio can be an expensive thing. But, it is usually a very necessary thing in order to get something tangible that you can send / email to people to help promote yourself. One day in a studio can cost in the region of £200, but, that one day's potential spend could actually be used to set yourself up with your very own recording equipment that may be used again and again and again and again... you get the picture.

For anyone who would like to put together their very own small recording studio, this guide should provide some great starting points for to you start recording your own vocals. Before we get cracking though, the research in for this blog has been undertaken by Luke at Vocademy, who is a mega talented singing teacher in his own right, and, so we just wanted to say Merci!

Firstly, go grab your laptop or computer because you are going to be needing that hunk-a-junk...

a) Computer
Nearly all computers these days have the power to support music software and audio recording. If yours does not then it is without a doubt time to invest... this will obviously push the spends over the £200 mark, but, it is a sound investment for sure.

b) Software
Once you have the computer situation sorted you will need to get the right software to record your vocals with. It won't matter whether you use standard PC/Laptop or MAC as there are free, yes free, alternatives for both. On the Mac you have the pre-installed Garageband, which is a very powerful tool for singers and has loads of presets to make your voice sound great. On the PC you can download a free piece of software called Acid Xpress. It is a cut down version of their full Acid software but this free version will certainly get you started. The interface can be a little more confusing than Garageband but with some video tutorials, you'll be well on your way. You can get this here:

c) Microphone
At this point, you are going to have to spend some money! I know, it was all going so well, but some things are unavoidable. There are a few different options for mics, but here are 3 microphones that connect via USB, so you won't need an external soundcard or anything complicated. These are all "Plug and Play" so you just connect it to your computer and your recording software should find it nice and easy. Then you can focus on singing and not wiring! Here are three USB microphones for singing that come highly recommend:

i) Behringer C-1u £44 (
ii) Samson G- Track Usb £90 (
iii) AKG Perception 120 £99 (

d) Hardware
There are a few bits and bobs left that you are going to need to spend on I'm afraid... but, they will make a difference to the quality of your recordings, so here goes....

i) Pop Shield - £8 - Fantastic at stopping any unwanted 'popping' Ps when singing into a microphone. They are cheap, and a home studio must!

ii) Mic Stand - £15 - Always use a mic stand so that you can get those lungs nice and filled with air.

iii) Headphones - £19 - You will need to have a silent room when recording your voice so you will need to listen to your song/backing track through headphones when you are recording. Here is a great set of studio headphones for under £20. AKG K 44 Headphones -

And, that's your lot! Your Guide to Building a Home Studio for recording vocals all for the price of one day worth of studio time! And you even have money to spare! With this extra cash, you could even buy yourself a singing lesson or a lesson in garageband or sound program of choice and get yourself some great tips from a professional. Or, maybe you could buy your favourite singing teacher a present? :)

Let me know if you try this and I'll do a post on you and add your results :)

Happy Singing!!