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.
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 Richmond/Twickenham studio via her website.
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. Yet Rocky Music Studio well knows the difference and offers specific training of a budding rocker's voice at their studios in New Malden and Bayswater (or across Skype, if you're not willing to travel). In addition to range, projection, breathing techniques and performance, they also will focus on your chosen rock scream, whether that's a growl, yell scream or the 'pig squeal'. All without completely frazzling your vocal health.
A free consultation via Skype will be followed by a session tailored to your specific needs. Rock on.
The experts at Soho Vocal Tuition specialise in vocal technique and teach across all genres. Their in-house teachers will help give you that extra power and range, without you squeezing or cracking, so you can nail every one of those high notes. Then you can sit back and wait for future reviewers to pile 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.
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 Academy's 'Taster Opera Singing' course, designed as a fun and light-hearted 60 minute exploration of the operatic repertoire and to see whether you and this tricky genre are meant for each other. If it's not a match made in heaven then no harm done, but if you take to it like a duck to water then you have the 'Improvers' course to look forward to next. You will have to keep an eye on availability, however, as the courses are popular and the taster sessions only pop up a couple of times a year.
City Academy, based near Farringdon, also offers singing lessons in a range of other styles and you can find full details on its website.
If you've always wanted to learn how to belt out the tunes from your favourite broadway hits, City Lit has just the course for you. Designed for singers of all levels, you will learn how to master top show tunes both a capella and ensemble. One of the best elements is that while the teacher will have some prepared numbers, they also welcome suggestions. So if you've always had a hankering to nail The Phantom of the Opera or I Dreamed a Dream, this is your chance. The only requirement is that you can sing vaguely in tune, although if that's a problem never fear: City Lit has a course for tone deafness too!
City Lit, based near Covent Garden, offers a range of singing lessons for both beginners and more advanced singers wishing to specialise in specific areas. Find the full range on its website.
Led by Anita Wardell and Trudy Kerr, who have almost 30 years of teaching experience between them, London's Jazz Singing School is the perfect opportunity to hone your skills. Although they have both taught independently — privately and at institutions including Guildhall School of Music and Trinity Laban — the pair have now joined forces to offer bi-annual courses that delve into the nitty gritty of phrasing, improvisation, rhythm, tuning and that all-important vocal technique.
If you can't dedicate the time to a five day course, or prefer one-to-one tuition, both teachers also offer private lessons and you can get in touch with them via their websites — Anita Wardell's is here and Trudy Kerr's is here.
The sight of a well-taught gospel choir belting out an infectious set can bring joy to the darkest of hearts. London Community Gospel Choir offers one of London's few gospel-focused singing opportunities, where the experience day allows you to step up to the podium, whatever your singing level, and enjoy a lesson with either the founder and Choir Principal, Rev Bazil Meade, or a fellow Choir Director, at the Walthamstow headquarters. You'll then put what you've learnt into practice during an official rehearsal in Islington, singing alongside all the choir members in the church as an honorary member.
Find out more about London Community Gospel Choir and their experience days via their website.
A little bit of everything
Not sure yet exactly which genre you'd like to try out first? Or perhaps you see yourself as more of a Jack of all trades? City Academy's beginner courses are designed for singers who are looking to gain confidence, build personal style and gain a more in-depth knowledge of singing. Classes take place in groups and cover a wide range of styles including pop, jazz, folk, musical theatre and soul. The idea is to have fun and develop your singing skills so each day is packed full of friendly feedback, allowing you to progress steadily throughout the course.
Teaching takes place at a number of locations around London and you can find out what's coming up soon at the City Academy website.