Every man, every woman, and their assorted dogs seem to want to get on TV to belt out some terrible pop hit on the way to megastardom. If you believe the hype, we all have a frustrated singer in us, begging to get out. But how to set that singer free?
Here are a few of London’s best places to hone your vocal skills and learn how best to grasp a microphone to impress a jury of cynical experts. Others are available, but these ones particularly caught our eye. Please note, you’ll have to check with each establishment whether they’ll also take on the dog.
Pop - Carrie Gardner
Obviously eyeing up the quickest route to fame in these throwaway times, many a pop singer warbles away without having had the benefit of expert advice. Put yourself ahead of the pack with lessons from Carrie Gardner who, with an honours degree in Popular Music Performance behind her, certainly knows her stuff. Carrie claims there is ‘no such thing as tone deaf’, which is an aspirational assertion put severely to the test by the noises made by a crowd of Londonists on one of our pub crawls.
Nonetheless if anyone can save us all from sounding like distressed cats it’s Carrie, and you can contact her for beginner and more advanced lessons at her Hanwell studio via her website.
Rock – Tim Buse
Many schools and tutors lump rock and pop together, as though it’s quite the same to wail along to a Lady Gaga record as to scream out some AC/DC. Self-styled ‘rock vocal coach’ Tim Buse has other ideas, offering specific training of a budding rocker’s voice at his north-east London premises, or at your place if you’re not willing to venture into the Hackney. Not that you should be considering rock if that’s the case — don’t you know Hackney’s where it’s at?
Tim offers beginner and advanced packages and you can contact him via his website.
Soul – Soho Vocal Tuition
Given the often soft, even sparse instrumentation behind a soul singer, it could be considered one of the tougher genres to master. Soho Vocal Tuition’s four in-house teachers will help you to learn the techniques required for future reviewers to use words like ‘sultry’ and ‘sensuous’ when piling acclaim onto your soon-to-be-platinum-selling debut album.
Their studio is on Berwick Street in Soho and you can get in touch via their website.
Opera – City Lit
Arguably, if you’ve reached adulthood without being able to sing in an operatic style, it may well be too late given the strains it could put on untested vocal chords. This is perhaps reflected in City Lit’s ‘Easy Opera’ course, designed as an exploration of the operatic repertoire and to see whether you and this tricky genre are meant for each other. You will have to keep an eye on availability, however, as the next Easy Opera course is already fully booked.
City Lit, based near Covent Garden, also offers more advanced opera courses and you can find full details on its website.
Jazz – Kim Chandler
Kim has been teaching singing for nearly 20 years in her bustling west London studio, and has worked with a number of famous folk. She began her career as a jazz singer, and she’s performed at the Ealing Jazz Festival on her own doorstep in addition to various venues across the capital and elsewhere. For those of you eyeing up a crossover career, you may be interested to note that Kim has worked as a backing singer for none other than Susan Boyle.
Kim’s studio is in Brentford and if you fancy yourself as the next Ella Fitzgerald or Tony Bennett you can get in touch via her website.
Gospel – City Academy
The sight of a well-taught gospel choir belting out an infectious set can bring joy to the darkest of hearts. City Academy offer one of London’s few gospel-focused singing courses, from a gentle taster to more advanced tutelage, all under the stewardship of professional gospel singer CeCelia Wickham Anderson.
Teaching takes place at the October Gallery in Bloomsbury and you can read more details at the City Academy website.