Singing: Getting back into it!

Top tips for getting back in to your lessons with ease after a long break.

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Summer holidays are almost over and some students have taken a break for most or all of it. Here are some top tips for getting back in to your lessons with ease! 

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Photo by Gerd Altmann on Pexels.com

1.  Prepare a list of songs.

Your favourite artists have probably been releasing loads of catchy tunes over the break but as soon as you sit in your singing room, you won’t remember a single one! Create a list either in a notepad or on your phone/tablet that way you have inspiration at hand on that first lesson back!

2. Start warming up again.

It’s absolutely fine to have a rest from singing but if you’ve done absolutely nothing for a few weeks, you might want to start building strength in those vocal muscles again (yes, just like they gym!) If you don’t, you might find the first few weeks difficult and leave your lessons feeling tired and maybe even a little sore! Below is our basic warm up to help you!

3. Sing!

After you’ve warmed up, sing some old familiar songs to help wake your body and mind up and get in to the swing of things again.

4. Set Some Goals.

Do you want to extend your range? Perform in front of an audience? Do you want to be able to sing that one song you’ve always struggled with?  Setting goals is a great way to get back in to your singing lessons, they can be as big or as small as you like just make sure they’re attainable and you have discussed them with your singing teacher! Don’t forget to give yourself a time frame too!

5.  Don’t be too hard on yourself.

If you haven’t been singing regularly, don’t be surprised if you don’t feel you’re as strong as you were at the end of last term.  This is to be expected.  Again, it’s like taking a break from the gym, you may have lost stamina and strength which will effect your singing.  Don’t worry, with a bit of time and practice, you will be back to full voice in no time! Talk to your singing teacher about different exercises suitable for your voice.

 

I hope this helps ease back in to singing lessons and I look forward to seeing everyone return to lessons here at Rainford & Ormskirk Vocal Academy.

Katie

To book a lesson with Katie, please phone/text 07867410048 or email Katie_ellen@live.com.  For more information visit http://www.rainfordandormskirkvocalacademy.com 

Paul McCartney; Simply having a wonderful (Christmas)time!

I’ve worked for LIPA 4:19, an academy for 4 to 19 year olds thats run within The Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts since October 2015 but this term, I took over their Singing Company. These are more advanced classes for those who want to focus more on their singing.  For the first term, I just decided to throw some really complicated arrangements at them and see what they could do and they didn’t disappoint! Now, I’m so glad I did that because on Friday evening, I got a very exciting phone call…

Friday evening, I received a phone call that Paul McCartney had requested our Singing Company to sing along with his famous Christmas song ‘Wonderful Christmastime’.  As you can imagine, it took me by total surprise but when asked if I thought we could pull it off in the extremely short amount of time we had, I had no doubt we could!  Thats where this adventure began!

The next day was the last teaching Saturday of 2018 and our staff night out. It was also the day I received the sheet music for our Paul McCartney gig, of course, I still went out!  At one point the song came on and we all got a bit excited, I couldn’t relax completely because at 1:15pm the next day I would have our first and ONLY two hour rehearsal to teach 20 children 4 part harmony and get them comfortable with the arrangement. We would be performing in front of 11,000 people in a sold out Echo Arena! Paul McCartneys  long awaited homecoming gig! NO PRESSURE.

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On Sunday morning, I woke up at 7am to start learning the arrangement and becoming comfortable enough with the harmonies so I could teach them quickly and have enough time to go over the whole song multiple times.  As I suspected, they children  (and their parents!) were so excited but ready for action! We learnt the whole arrangement in 1 hour and, thankfully, we had plenty of time to sing the whole song through lots of times.  Everything ent to plan, but that didn’t stop me from worrying for the next 4 nights…

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It felt like weeks had passed before Wednesday finally arrived and we all met at LIPA, the atmosphere was electric.  We didn’t have a rehearsal before we left and tried to have a sing on the coach journey, not the best plan as we couldn’t hear a thing.  That just made me worry more.  The next time we would sing it would be on stage with Paul McCartney at his sound check. NO PRESSURE.

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We arrived at the Echo Arena and were met by Paul McCartneys manager, who gave us all our backstage passes.  I don’t know who was more excited, the staff or the chidren. Definitely the staff!  We were told to wait on the bus so we could watch Paul arrive and things got even more exciting as he got out of the car.  We were then shown to our dressing room, complete with a table full of treats for us.

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Soundcheck next and I wasn’t sure what to expect from the super famous man we were about to meet but he didn’t disappoint in the slightest! He made sure he shook hands with every single one of us and chatted at length to me about how he wanted the choir to sound “like a party on the stage”, even joking that he was trying to make himself feel better when I said I was relieved he didn’t want them to be “perfect”! His band were more than accommodating and made us all laugh with their sense of humour, especially his amazing drummer who was dancing around as we were singing.  We ran the song a number of times as they were using 17 mics, an amazing feat by the tech crew, even though we did experience a very loud episode of feedback at the beginning, ouch!  II had a lot of crew and management team express how they though the choir sounded great and a lot of thanks was given to the whole team. Such a fantastic feeling, we really pulled it off! Now all that remained was the performance in front of an actual audience.

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As we arrived back to our dressing room, there was a knock on the door. “Sir Paul would like you to have these.”  We were all given a t shirt each from merchandise and pizzas were ordered for everyone while we waited as we wouldn’t go on until the very end.  The staff took it in turns to take some children to watch the show from the back of the arena and it went so fast! Before we knew it, we were lined up ready to be escorted to our position at the side of the stage.

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In a blink of an eye, the children were on stage in front of 11,000 people.  Thats when it started to snow and I got a tear in my eye and pride just poured out of me, the children had never sounded so good and the crowd went wild!  I will never forget that moment. It has to be one of the best moments of my life. And here they are…

 

And in a flash, we were boarding the bus back to LIPA.  At this moment, I felt drained but of course, the children absolutely buzzed all the way there!  I drove home, poured a glass of Prosecco and thought “Did that REALLY happen?!”.  All of the worry and pressure  I put on myself, not only over the last few days but throughout my time working in this industry feels worth it.  And I would do it again in a second, call me any time Paul ha!

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Show Season.

Over the past few weeks I have been working full out preparing for show season! Summer term is always full of theatre work.  For the last 2 weeks I’ve been working at LIPA, in the Paul McCarney Auditorium and on Sunday I’ll be in a theatre in New Brighton and finally The Brindley in Runcorn next week.  After that, I’m excited for a showcase at JUNK, Ormskirk on Sunday, 16th July!

 

I have to admit, this side of my work is not my favourite, I mean, I love watching my students shine on the stage but being backstage for 3 weeks straight has been quite taxing! I especially dislike cancelling other work for it, I LOVE teaching and really don’t feel like myself when I’m not doing it! Saying that, I know I will look back on this time with pride, the students I work with at LIPA have made me so proud this year from acing their singing exams earlier in the year to developing their performance skills!

 

I’m so looking forward to our showcase at JUNK! Unlike theatre work, I enjoy these small informal shows so much! They always make me so proud!  More details for the showcase coming soon!

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Getting back out there…

As a singing teacher, I probably say “You can do this” about 100 times a day! Recently, I decided to head back in to the recording studio and record a song I’d written years ago.  Just for me, a sort of fun project.  Little did I know it would spark a passion that I had sort of pushed down for many years.  I came out of that studio wondering why I hadn’t done this for so long, and then it hit me.

I have spent the last 5-6 years focusing all my energy on lifting other people, building their confidence and watching many of them make fantastic careers in the music industry, but I had no one there to push me.  Now, I know it sounds as though I needed someone to tell me I’m amazing every 5 minutes but I assure you, thats not what I mean (that would be fantastic though, right?! ha).  Just one person telling me “that song is brilliant” was all it took.  Thats when the cogs started turning and instead of brushing off the compliment, I decided to run with it.  I am telling you now, it feels great!

There’s a lesson to be learned here for everyone.  It is amazing to lift other people up and be an enabler but don’t forget…

You need to tell yourself too! As well as surround yourself with kind, supportive people. Which, thankfully, is what I have right now (so thankyou!)

 

So, below is a little preview of the song i recorded that is being released on 1st May in iTunes etc and hopefully my next blog will include upcoming gigs (gulp!).  I’m not afraid to say how nervous I am about getting back out there but fear shouldn’t stop you from doing anything!

 

You can also follow my journey on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/katieellensinger

As always, thanks for reading and supporting!

Katie

http://www.rainfordandormskirkvocalacademy.com

Singing lessons in Ormskirk & Rainford.

What do you call a singer with no voice?

As I’m writing this, I’m lying on the couch with a stuffy nose, watery eyes and hope that I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling much better.  Yes folks, I’ve got the dreaded cold.  As a singer, I feel every part of a cold, from the warning signs that it’s on its way to the ‘not quite 100%’ a week after it’s gone.  It makes me wonder about ‘non-singers’ in the same way I wonder if they get that same amazing feeling when they hear a fantastic voice or piece of music for the first time…

While I’m here, I thought I’d share my top tips for looking after your voice in lessons when its cold outside!

 

  1. Hydrate!  In winter, when it’s cold, we often forget to drink enough water.  This dehydrates us and that has a negative impact on our singing voice. The NHS in the UK recommends 6-8 glasses a day (http://www.nhs.uk/news/2011/07july/pages/eight-glasses-of-water-a-day.aspx) and don’t forget sugary, fizzy drinks don’t do the job.  If you’re bringing water to a lesson, make sure it is room temperature. You will just undo your warm-up if you grab an icy cold bottle!
  2. Wrap up! Always wear a coat and, especially if you are walking to your singing lesson, wear a scarf to keep that extra heat in the right areas!  You sing with your whole body so you need to protect your whole body!
  3. If you have a cold, sore throat or both, stay away! Sometimes, the best thing to do is rest.  Your teacher should encourage you to rest if you’re not feeling well. You could be doing more damage than good.  Don’t have a lesson if you don’t feel up to it!
  4. And finally… arrive to your lesson around 10 minutes before your start time, especially if you walk to give your body a chance to warm up.  Of you are still cold, ask your teacher to do a physical warm up with you before you start and vocal warm ups.

 

So, if you adhere to all of the above, you should keep your voice nice and healthy.  Colds do slip through though!  The best we can do is try to defend ourselves! Or we could all move to a warmer climate? Who’s with me?

 

Thanks for reading

Katie

Lessons available in Rainford & Ormskirk.  www.rainfordandormskirkvocalacademy.com for more info

 

Musicians, genre and the music snob.

I’m often asked what genre of music I like the best.  Its a question I find really difficult to answer because I’m a firm believer in music as a universal thing that brings people together rather than putting them in to more “boxes”.  There’s enough of that in our society, right?

I’m not saying I listen to all genres of music of course, I’m more inclined to put on a Miranda Lambert album (highly recommend her latest album “The Weight of These Wings” if you’re a fan of country!) than a heavy metal band… but I’m not ruling it out.  The worst experience of a “music snob” I’ve ever had is in a record shop in Liverpool.  So to put this story in to context, I have a small but very varied vinyl collection.  I’m talking things from musical theatre to heavy blues.  I never go out to buy vinyl but if I pass a shop, I’m probably coming out of it with lighter purse.

So , one day I went in to said shop, excited by the colourful sleeves, that record shop smell and the whole process of flicking through the shelves! Then a thought popped in to my mind about an album I wanted.  So I asked “Have you got any Sting albums?” To my surprise, the owner just laid in to my taste in music, why would I want an album by Sting? I was so shocked I couldn’t even defend myself, nor should I have to.  So in the end, I left with nothing but a bad mood and it made me wonder why anyone with that sort of attitude would want to own a record shop!

I’ve met a few music snobs in my line of work and I’ve even heard someone say that music should just be for those who are “good at it”(what?).  But why is important to be inclusive and open to all genres when it comes to singing lessons?

Well number one; I would be out of work if I discounted peoples musical preferences but mainly because by limiting yourself to one kind of music you are limiting your ability to work in the music industry and who knows? You may find your niche outside of your comfort zone!

So, give every kind of music a chance, don’t put others down for their preference in music and don’t be a music SNOB! And if your not sure if your a music snob, find out here

http://www.webdesignschoolsguide.com/library/10-signs-youre-an-insufferable-music-snob.html

Thanks for reading!

 

Katie

Singing lessons in Ormskirk and Rainford, http://www.rainfordandormskirkvocalacademy.com for more information.