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In the beginning
Music and singing has always been a part of my life, but nursing is where my working life began. I trained as a registered nurse in Perth WA going on to work on wards, then gaining experience in coronary care, pathology, prisons, IVF, private home care and occupational health. The last five years were spent as a unit nurse in film & television before getting back to the music full time.
During those five years I met and worked with some of the greatest names in film & television, including: Dame Helen Mirren, Nigel Hawthorn, Sir Nicholas Hytner (Director), Alan Bennett (writer), Bob Hoskins, Ewan McGregor, Robin Williams, Christian Bale, Patricia Arquette, Brian De Palmer (Director), Bill Nighy, Simon Pegg, Tom Cruise, Ian Holme, Christopher Hampton (Director), John Cleese and the rubbery faced Rowan Atkinson. You may remember the episode where Mr Bean gets his hand stuck in a teapot and goes to Casualty. He jumps the queue by stealing a ticket from a lady plastered from head to toe; well that was my handy work – the bandages and plastering. Click here if you want to watch that segment.
You will see me in the credits for films such as ‘The Madness of King George‘ and ‘Shaun of the Dead.’ I was dreaming about zombies for weeks. I’ve also worked on a variety of adverts and music promos for acts including UB40, Lisa Scott-Lee and Placebo.
My years of nursing were a little extraordinary to say the least, but they proved to be incredibly important. They funded my musical and voice studies. The techniques and experience I developed during this time helped me bring out the best in my students today. In addition, my time working with the talented household names that filled those last years, gave me an insight into the mindset and hard work ethic required for artistic success.
The day I woke in a sweat! (And no it wasn’t menopause)
My leap from nursing to singing was more of a push really. I woke up one morning coupled with a cold sweat and a choking feeling. In the preceding dream or nightmare, I died and was journeying to the next world. Throughout my ‘passing’ I was plagued with regret; regret that I hadn’t followed my passion for music and singing – regret that my life had concluded without it reaching its full potential.
I decided there and then that I would focus all my energy into following my dreams and reaching my potential. A focus I continue today.
The educational and performing bit
I received my BA Music Education (Jazz) from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) in 2000.
In the past, I’ve studied with some of the best jazz singers, musicians and educators in the jazz world including Sheila Jordan, Mark Murphy, Madeline Eastman, Kurt Elling, Billy Taylor, Mark Levine, Anita Wardell, Norma Winstone and Cleo Lane
I’ve performed professionally in Australia, UK and USA. My performance experience includes jazz, gospel and classical choirs; as a chorus member, featured soloist and feature singer for big bands. I’ve run my own quartets, trios and duos, as well working a bit in professional musical theatre and light classical shows (G&S).
Finding my voice and my passion for teaching
Although I was enjoying my time as a performer, I felt unsatisfied with my vocal control. So I began to search for a technique, which was relevant to my voice. Within the search and finding of that technique; and the training that followed, I noticed a switch in my mindset. My passion to perform was morphing into a passion to help performers. I went from thinking, “I can sing that better than her” to “I can help her sing that better.” With my own vocal control established, I continued studying and honing my techniques to help others gain the same vocal freedom.
Moving to London in 2002 it was clear that there was an open market for a contemporary vocal technique that could give singers a strong, blended sound, using prescribed exercises specific to the individual’s vocal needs. So I set up a studio as a singing teacher in NW London.
Where I find myself being the head of a department
In 2006 I was invited to do a series of guest lectures at the Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) in Surrey. This lead to a regular position as a singing tutor at the school and eventually in April of 2008, being asked to take on the position of Head of Vocal Department. This role taught me a huge amount and allowed me to develop a contemporary vocal curriculum that incorporated solid vocal techniques combined with musicianship, style and performance skills across part-time, BTEC, CertHE and Degree levels courses. It was here I began designing and teaching The Performer’s Edge course.
Some endings and new beginnings
In 2011 I decided I wanted to refocus on my business so I left ACM and began developing a broader spectrum of singing instruction, incorporating performance psychology, artistic development and vocal science. This led me an MSc at UCL in Performing Arts Medicine (PAM) neatly combining my medical training with the performing arts. Think sports medicine for performers!
To augment my coaching service I have trained in the Lefkoe Belief Process and as a Mental Health First Aider, I am also licensed and accredited to deliver the Wraw tool. Wraw is the world’s first psychometric tool that measures resilience and its impact on wellbeing. I regularly attend conferences, workshops, and events relating to voice science and research, vocal pedagogy, performing arts medicine, the music industry, and technology.
Between working with singers in my studios and teaching singing teacher training courses for BAST Training I also publish and write for iSingmag, an online mag for singers. Guitarists, bass players, drummers and sound engineers all have their own magazines, why shouldn’t singers?! I am very proud of this publication, it’s a great resource for singers, full of useful and inspiring articles, videos and links. It also gives me an amazing opportunity to talk to professional singers from all walks of life, to gain insights, top tips and stay current with the industry.
Hope to hear your story at some point! Let me know if you have any questions.
I don’t perform these days as I decided to focus on teaching and the magazine but below are some recordings from when I was.