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the story of Everyone Can Sing

08/04/2012

how my voice workshop came about and turned me into a singer

 

background
For nearly twenty years my 'Everyone Can sing - a voice workshop' (to give it its full title) has helped thousands of singers, some just to get started, others to achieve greater skill and confidence.  It has been a moving experience for many, a life-enhancing experience for some and a life-changing changing experience for a few.  It has also been hugely rewarding, sometimes moving and a life-changing experience for me as the tutor.  Here is the strange-but-true story of how it came about ...  

 

Originally a non-singer, I was one of many children, who were told to mime in the school choir.  In teenage years I started to play music and very quickly developed fluency, originality and a strong personal style on dulcimer and guitar.  I would reluctantly sing, but always then preferred to accompany a more proficient vocalist. 

 

performance skills
In the early 1990's I left a management position in industry to pursue a career as a musician.  Although my diary had plenty of engagements, I knew that initially at least, I would need to supplement my income from performances with other work.  I held a keen interest in psychology, was fascinated by performance and spotted a gap in the market, so I developed a Performance Skills Workshop, which was well-researched, well-conceived and so proved to be highly effective.

 

me in the 90's

 

On one such performance skills workshop, several singers came who wanted help with vocal technique, specifically breathing.  From singing courses that I'd attended myself, I was able to help them in turn, which resulted in the students requesting me to run a voice workshop. "No ..." was my quick and emphatic reply "... I'm not a singer".  I didn't want to do it.

 

However the centre manager, my client, had other ideas and persuaded me to run a pilot day to test the concept.  I somewhat reluctantly agreed to this and designed a pilot, incorporating my confidence-developing process (the 'engine') that I'd deployed so effectively on my Performance Skills workshop.

 

fun, fun, fun
The pilot day was a success, a little unstructured perhaps, but it worked.  Students had lots of fun and didn't want to go home at the end.  Follow-on days were organised and then weekends.  All were popular, most sold out and within a short space of time it became my most in-demand course.  One centre told me they had such a long waiting list that they could fill every date I could give them.

 

I'd accidently got a number of things right from the start.  I made the workshop fun for one thing - we did, and still do, have many laughs.  One student went on to run her own laughter-therapy workshops and her work was showcased on television not so long ago.  My confidence-developing engine was another reason for the course's success and popularity.  I also learned how universally popular singing is and how many people, like me, were told to mime in the school choir.  It seems our education system was failing many people when it came to singing.

 

NLP
One lady who came on my course, retuned and then came back a third time.  On the third occasion she told me: "I haven't come to learn to sing this time. I can sing perfectly well, thank you" she said with a complimentary smile.  "I've come to watch you work.  I'm studying for my Master Practitioner qualification in NLP and I want to watch you work.  You are a classic NLP Practitioner."  And I replied: "What's NLP ?"

 

And so I learned a little about NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and added this tool to my toolkit, along with many other models like CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and TA/PAC (Transactional Analysis), as well as my own confidence-developing engine, which bonds groups so well.     

                
10 years on

Despite the class working fabulously, for the first ten years I felt a bit of a fraud as I didn't see myself as a singer.  Despite being able to successfully coach all levels of vocalists,  including professional opera singers and voice coaches, I was a little uncomfortable at times when students had greater vocal skills than my own.  This forced me to have humility, which I now think is the greatest quality a tutor can have.  So it all made sense and the universe was unfolding as it was meant to.

 

After ten years however, I decided to take things more seriously.  I subscribed to specialist magazines,  joined a specialist network and attended some more voice workshops to enhance my singing skills and knowledge of making vocal sound. 

 

20 years on
Nearly twenty years on from my first Everyone Can Sing workshop, I'm still enjoying leading these classes enormously.  My toolkit is extending all the time and my skill at a facilitating the class and coaching students to find their voices, to achieve their potential, to make their songs come to life and to move people are developing all the time.  Incredibly, students have come from all over Europe and beyond to attend this class and the feedback is simply amazing.

 

 Let It Be Me CD album

 

And, guess what? My own voice has improved out of all recognition.  Years of warm-ups, demonstrating best-practice vocal technique and developing confidence have changed made me into a singer.  I enjoy singing more than ever.  Indeed one American review of my CD album, Let It Be Me, wrote: 'The new recording focuses on traditional folk songs from the British Isles and showcases Dan’s clear and precise dulcimer and guitar playing along with his superb vocals.'  It might have taken twenty years of teaching the subject, but I got there in the end.

 

whatever next ?
To quote a line from a song (Forever), written by a little-know English dulcimer player (me): 'What the future holds, we can neither guess nor wonder'.  As long as I'm fit and well, as long as students turn up wanting my help, as long as we have lots of fun, then I'll be there.  "hmmm" (thinks) the Jacksons' 'I'll Be There' - I wonder if that'll work on the dulcimer ?      

 

Jackson Five



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