Hello! A warm welcome to you. I'm so glad your here.
I'm Rachel and I love singing! ...I mean really, totally, life-changingly love it! You may think I'm loopy, but singing has just sooo many benefits, particularly for those of us who have busy, and often stressful lives.
The prevalence of mental illness is now so huge in our society that pretty much all of us have either experienced it or have family members and friends who struggle with depression, anxiety, panic attacks...the list goes on. It is invisible, yet cruel and can be completely debilitating.
*** Welcome to Singing! ***
Singing is scientifically proven to increase oxytocin levels, which are the super-cool chemicals in your brain that lift your spirits! You know that feeling...you are nearing the end of another long day and it's not over yet. The evening is drawing near, you have to eat (preferably something healthy!), you're exhausted and tonight is choir night (sigh). Mentally, you wonder if you can cope with going. You're tired and feeling low. However, by hook or by crook, you end up there, in amongst a whole group of others who have probably travelled the same mental pathway you did to get there that night. You have a good sing (and probably a natter) and you go away feeling...well, better! And not just a tiny, insignificant bit better, a HUGE amount better!! I cannot count the times this has happened to me, and as this article suggests, I'm obviously not alone.
I often have people come to me who have joined a community choir, but maybe feel they are not contributing to the sound as they'd like or just want to raise their confidence levels. There are also those who would love to be brave enough to join a choir, but need a bit of encouragement and support before they can take that step.
Please come...I promise to be honest. Gentle, but honest. I'd love to work with you and help you to love your voice; to feel at home with it; to explore its twists and turns, both hunting out its natural ease and also taking purposeful risks as we look to extend your capabilities together.
Lessons ordinarily start with a short time of relaxation. There's no point in rushing in and blasting our way through the session. In order to make the time as productive as possible, we have a few minutes where we just stop...and breathe. We'll often stretch too, whole body stretches, but most particularly the face, neck and shoulder area, where so many of us hold tension. Good singing requires our bodies to be relaxed, a tight, tense body will create a tight, tense sound - not so pleasant to experience or listen to! In this part of the session, we're creating the foundation of support for your voice.
Once we've relaxed, we'll enter into a range of vocal warm ups, aiming to gently get the voice going, continuing to free up areas of tension. This will lead to exercises which will traverse the full range of your voice, often exposing areas that we will zone in on, giving you the tools to smooth the cracks and strengthen weaker areas.
At this point it's over to you! We can either choose songs together, or you can bring songs you are working on at choir, for solo performances or just songs you enjoy singing at home! During this time, we will look at an all around approach to singing. Technique is important, but equally (possibly more) important is that you are able to keep the relaxed, easy, tension-free singing that we worked on at the start of the lesson into the songs you sing. This is not always as easy as it sounds, but is crucial to your enjoyment and your performance! A huge part of singing is communicating the story of the song - what's it about? - relax and tell your audience (whether real or imagined for now!) As long as you remain stressed about technique, it won't improve. The key is to enjoy what you're doing.
A bit about me:
After studying for a Music Degree at Bath Spa, I went on to complete a PGCE in Primary Teaching and have now been teaching for over 10 years. Across this time, I have enjoyed teaching in people's homes, from my own home, in a church setting and in both Primary & Secondary Schools.
I have sung in many choirs and am now thoroughly settled with the brilliant Bel Canto, a chamber choir performing a huge and exciting range of genre's. This gives me the opportunity to be stretched, to keep my sight singing up to scratch and also to enjoy the benefits of singing in company!
The bulk of my singing happens in church, where I am a worship leader. Worship music is, for me, the most amazing opportunity to combine the incredible benefits of singing together, with my faith in a loving, personal God. Just singing on its own could never lift me above my fears and anxiety's, but the life-transforming presence of Jesus changes everything.