Attendee Feedback from VU London Event

I’ve been to many vocal coaching seminars in my 15 years as a voice coach, many through my training as an SLS voice teacher and some featuring Dave Stroud himself.

This one,however, was particularly of note.


Usually I find myself digesting  the implications of new information or new techniques, while still at the seminar and becoming inspired or excited while still there. Waking up the next day, some of the clarity is gone and I’ll be checking my notes or recordings to see the details and re-assess what got me so excited the day before.


The philosophical nature of this most recent seminar meant that the jumble of thoughts going round in my head during the event did not sort themselves out fully, for days.

In essence, what I ended up taking home from the seminar was “to be a better teacher, start out by being a better person”. That may be oversimplifying things but it’s still an inspiring thought.


I’ve spent the last 5 years changing the way I teach, incorporating some of the best teaching techniques ever devised, by the vocal teaching legend that is Seth Riggs and distilled into a systematic technique, mostly by Dave Stroud himself.

Along the way, I think I lost a little of the focus on the skills I’d used as a teacher for the 10 years I’d taught before I took up SLS. Truly listening to what people want from their lessons. Finding ways to inspire them in their singing, in their willingness to open up in their lessons and to trust that I was working in their interest and not just the interest of my business. Ensuring that their emotional heath (in respect of their singing!) was as important in the lesson as their vocal health.


As Dave pointed out in the seminar, it’s not a substitute to systematic teaching, to approach lessons this way, it’s the very key to why people open themselves up to new methods and the resulting new sensations and therefore benefit more quickly from the “good stuff” they are being immersed in.


There is no way I’m going to stop trying to improve my ear for what’s happening in a student’s voice, or my ability to assess their tendencies and apply appropriate exercises to help them improve, but before I get that far in a lesson, I’m going to remind myself that they came because they needed someone that they could trust, who they felt cared about their music, their singing and their ability to get their message to an audience and that only when that has been established, will the joys of a “low, stable larynx” have any long lasting effect on their voice!


The modern voice teacher has (or should have!) a full tool box of scales and sounds to address the physical problems of the voice, but unless they also have the skills to get the student to “pop the bonnet” (that’s “hood” to our american friends) and let us truly get to work with those tools, the benefits  will be short lasting.


One of Dave’s sound bites on this philosophy, was ‘ How fast can I get the student to say “my teacher get’s me”.

Well I think I get Dave now. I’m certainly going to try and “get” my students more.


Maybe it’s co-incidence but twice since the seminar I have had students arrive for lessons in an emotional state, over problems or concerns to do with their singing or their music pressures. Neither of those lessons contained as much as a third of a lesson of actual vocalising or singing but both ended with smiling, happy students who left with refreshed confidence and enthusiasm and came back the next week (sooner than usual….) to have a productive lesson where their singing progressed further than before.


For the last five years, even though my lessons have always begun with questions, in reality those questions have been to drive home one real aim. Learn about the person’s vocal “tend’s to’s”

From now on that’s going to be priority number two. Number one is simpler.


Learn about the person.


I’d like to sincerely thank Dave Stroud for reminding me why I wanted to teach singing in the first place and a huge thank you to Line Hilton for organising this event. I look forward to future ones!


Gareth Henderson

Director of River Studios, Recording, Rehearsal, Voice and Music Tuition, Dance.

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