Friday, August 24, 2012

On Becoming A Coach Part 2 The Nylons and Los Angeles

                                          Billy Newton Davis, Micah Barnes Claude Morrison

  My years of singing with The Nylons and the heavy demands of the gig, ( concert tours, TV specials, constant interviews, tons of air travel), all meant a break from coaching, but during those years, influenced by my fellow Nylons, I began to take my own technique more seriously.
      Although hired to sing the Baritone part, I soon discovered during those "boot camp" rehearsal weeks of learning to sing harmony while dancing choreography, (not as easy as they made it look!), that I was also going to need to be able to sing falsetto, tenor AND bass parts, depending on which Nylons was stepping forward to sing lead! YIKES!
All of this range stretching taught me both to value and lean heavily on my technique... and I really value the wonderful producers and vocal coaches who helped me put together a more flexible voice during those years.
   It was in the highly competitive music world of Los Angeles where I moved post Nylons that I began to focus on my coaching as a real career.
          I had a few signs that this would be a viable direction along the way, vocal coach Seth Riggs had told me I was well trained enough to teach his technique and after years of performing and recording I had faced enough practical challenges as a singer to feel I had something useful to pass along to my students.
A key factor in my growth as a coach was a client that challenged my abilities and helped me grow my skill set..more about that and the surprise opportunity that turned out to be a career changer in Part 3

Sunday, August 19, 2012

On Becoming A Coach: Part One

People have been asking recently how I got started in the coaching biz.
It seems, on the eve of taking the Singers Playground workshops national, (Winnipeg, Toronto, Halifax and Vancouver!), to be a good moment to look back at how this all got started.

                                                 Private  Coaching Studio in Los Angeles

   Frankly, I started teaching voice technique because the actors singing my score in theatre productions weren't skilled enough to pull them off (and I wanted help my compositions to be heard! A very selfish reason when you think about it).

        I asked the actors to informally come by my apartment on Spadina Ave. in Toronto for me to show them a few things… And the miracle would happen that I was somehow able to free their minds and bodies enough to let a better sound happen for them on stage.

Luckily for me because due to early success with theatre and film actors, I began to coach productions, (including the original touring production of "The Rez Sisters"). That started actors seeing me before singing auditions and a kind of reputation as a "useful" coach began.

                              While coaching on CBC's "How To Solve A Problem Like Maria"

 For many of the early years I thought of my teaching as a way to pay the rent, without a real professional focus, as is the case with many coaches..(which is why I always suggest singers interview many coaches before settling on someone to work with)....

....... but over time I came to see which methods worked best, both in terms of teaching actual technique and most importantly how to find the most effective ways of communicating until the singer opened up to the work and began to find their sound.
 I seemed to have an instinct and a knack for getting through to even the most fearful and blocked singers, something which I would expand upon later in my coaching career.

Up next in Part Two: Vocal Coaching and The Nylons!

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