Apr 03 2012

New Testimonial

London, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, audi...

London, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, auditorium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a testimonial from a professional soprano in London. We have worked together for three 2+ hour sessions. We had a break and now are starting back up again. I promise she is real, but her Manager advised that she not have her name published.

I am totally OK with that. It is an example of some of the dumb “games” that you have to play in this career. She feels that way too. But I would never want to do something that would have a negative impact on someones reputation.

Having your name linked to a voice teacher’s website could be interpreted negatively by a theater that is interested in hiring her.  I mean, part of being a professional singer is constantly working to improve and prepare for your next job. But you can’t admit that publicly or else it appears like you are still an amateur. But at least this way she can be honest about her feelings and not have to act like she is perfect.

So because of this silliness that exists in the industry I have no problem keeping her name off. But it doesn’t diminish the things she has to say.

I am a Soprano based in London. I have been singing professionally for several years, but am at the start of my career as a soloist with “A” level companies, and have recently made my debut with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Despite a high level of practical training, I was experiencing anxiety when faced with performing in large theatres. The competition is ferocious and I had mainly been relying on instinct to get me through. I knew that a complete, watertight understanding of technique would help me to feel more secure in high-pressure environments.

I was looking for somebody who would discreetly take the time with me to fill the gaps in my knowledge, so that I would understand exactly what works under pressure, without fail.

I am so thankful I found Michael. Here are my top ten reasons why I would recommend him to anyone:

1) He has the required knowledge to be teaching at a top level. His methodical research allows him to consider each aspect of technique not as “What I believe…” but “What I know.”

2) He is humble and unassuming, which astonishes me, given the level of his teaching skill. He avoids any sort of “superior teaching attitude” and just delivers truth and fact that will work.

3) It is not enough for a teacher to have correct knowledge and a pleasant personality. Michael also communicates with precision and clarity.

4) He is generous to a fault with his time and resources. He doesn’t watch the clock and will stay with you in a session until you fully grasp what he is speaking about.

5) His vocal knowledge, while derived from scientific fact, is absolutely proven in the field of practical, high-level performance. Michael has a direct pedagogical link to Jussi Björling, widely acknowledged as having the most effective and expressive technique ever to grace an operatic stage.

6) Michael appreciates and understands people, and performers in particular. He has considerable experience onstage and amongst other theatre people in general. He has researched as a scientist does, but he speaks like an artist. His top priority is to teach you that the science serves the artistic expression. This alone has enabled me to conquer a huge amount of stage fright. Performing should not ever be seen as a technical test, but this was how it was starting to feel for me when my priorities were skewed.

7) Location is no barrier because Michael works as well over Skype as he does in person.

8) He will answer as many specific questions as you can manage to throw at him. He’ll never gloss over them and just expect you to see things his way without giving you a solid justification. And he never makes you feel stupid for asking a question.

9) He doesn’t only teach opera singers. You can work with him in any vocal style you prefer. He can even train actors in speech. He will teach a beginning student as happily as a professional one. The basis of his technique is pure, anatomical fact and not an image or style-related concept.

10) Sessions with Michael are enjoyable and fun, and I think this is just how singing lessons are supposed to be.

– K. Soprano

I am humbled by your kind words. Thank you.

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  1. charles humphreys

    I agree with what she says entirely.

    I have learned much as a teacher myself from Michael and still do. Couldn’t recommend him enough.

    Well done!


  2. I’m delighted to hear about my prospects of singing at Covent Garden after I have a few lessons with Michael.

    Jesting aside, I don’t think the soprano need apologize for approaching a top vocal consultant. It’s a smart move. I recall reading that Pavarotti had more than one teacher or coach for most of his career. Surely many seasoned singers do. Nobody knows everything, and it’s difficult to maintain an objective perspective on oneself.

    Many of the best professionals in sports also hire private coaches. Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods have swing coaches. Here’s an intriguing interview with the man who was Tiger’s coach for six years. I notice quite a few unstated parallels between musical performance and sports achievement in this piece.


  3. Thanks, Charles.

    That’s funny, Doug. She got to Covent Garden on her own before she found me. I agree with what you’re saying, and I would say she would too. She actually tells people in person about our work together. It is mainly the issue of potential employers doing Google searches and protecting what is on the Internet, which I recommend everybody be mindful of.

  4. Rachelle Hall

    I am a speech and voice therapist, and dialect/speech/vocal/acting coach. As I learned through dedicated work over times and personal retraining, I continue to help singers and actors through sound methods in a similar approach to yours. I have studied with Oran Brown and David Blare McCloskey, the grandfathers in the field of therapeutic vocal pedagogy. I have met Kristin Linklater and trained with students of hers; she has such wisdom for “Freeing Shakespeare’s Voice.” There are other like minded teachers whose books are treasures. I applaud what you do.

  5. Hi Rachelle – Thanks for sharing your experience, and thanks for your “applause”. I appreciate hearing from like-minded professionals. I hope you continue to find this site beneficial.

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