My Teaching Philosophy

My belief is that most people have an innate ability to sing.  A natural gift that, through music exposure in their early education, can gradually become a passion and even a career.  For me it was the combination of teachers who passed on their love of music, musicals and plays that toured my schools, my ability to “parrot” radio singers, and my family’s strong connection to the Welsh culture, which celebrates vocal and choral music.  I know first hand how important it is to have a clear and strong technical approach to singing.  I began taking voice lessons at the age of 7 with a local voice teacher who recognized how quickly bad habits were beginning to develop because of my ability to mimic sound, which, in most cases, wasn’t a healthy way of singing. 

Technique

Breath is the basis of all singing. Students will learn how breath control is the key to proper support, resonance, phrasing and legato.  How you breathe also determines the tempo and direction of the line.  When breath is used efficiently, the consonants (of any language) can then help guide the vowels instead of being grabbed or muscled, thus creating line or legato.  This is not to be confused with enunciation. You can have clear diction but the consonants do not dictate the pitch. Your cords are responsible for the pitch not your larynx and although you can use the voiced consonants for effect, it is important not to pitch them and cause the larynx to rise, especially in your upper register. The jaw is neutral, the larynx is relaxed, and the tongue and lips are soft to be able to form vowels and consonants. 

Uneven range and register issues through the passaggio are addressed by slimming the sound (not widening or spreading) allowing for space in the back (between molars) for bloom in the upper registers.  This is also part of achieving a seamless and even sound with no big or awkward shifts between octaves.

My goal is to provide a concise, solid and clear technical approach to producing sound. 

Performance

It is important that voice students participate and collaborate with as many ensembles as possible, schedules permitting. As part of a larger ensemble, students develop excellent skills in sight-reading, ensemble singing (not “blending” but adding unique colour to the palate) and the ability to learn large works (such as Oratorios or Opera). In my career I sang in many Ensembles at University and after, and eventually I was given the opportunity to solo.  I particularly enjoy the Sacred choral repertoire and have sung and recorded major works both as soloist/chorister with many groups.

Repertoire

I want students to be passionate about the wide range of repertoire available to you. I will help you develop the skills to know what is suitable for your voice.

Of course Jury or examination requirements cannot be avoided but together we will find repertoire that both covers any requirements and that you find joy in singing.  I urge you to take time in the library and look through and listen to repertoire to find what really speaks to you.  Also, it’s best to model your choices by finding examples by similar voice types to help narrow your searches.  I do however stress Canadian Contemporary Repertoire as a required component within my studio. 

Networking

An essential part of building a career is creating a network of professionals who will help guide and support young singers in the early part of their careers. Through my personal connections with conductors, artistic directors, and other singers, I can help students start developing their networks.

Final Notes

I guide my students towards a more open idea of what it is to be a singer in today’s world and how versatility is key without vocal compromise. With a strong, clear technique, young singers will feel the confidence required to take the next steps toward a career as a professional singer.

Singing is a constant learning experience.  Your voice changes and grows as you experience life and mature.  I’m here as your teacher to help you navigate any vocal challenges and changes. I will offer encouragement, advice and words of support whenever you need them.  Never be embarrassed or uneasy in coming to me with questions or concerns especially if something isn’t suiting you vocally.  Only YOU can know what feels right in your voice.   I will do my best to be your ears and help you become the finest singer and artist you can be! 

Masterclasses and Coaching Experience

I have been giving masterclasses and coached young singers for almost ten years.

2019Current: Teaching Voice, Piano & Coaching students at the Bravo Academy (ages 5 – 16)
2018Taught Voice & Piano at Melody School of Music to children 5 – 13 years old
2017Coached students of the Early Music Department, University of Toronto
2014Masterclass given at Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland
2013Masterclass given in Oratorio at Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto, ON
2012Masterclass given in Early Music Voice, McGill University, Montreal, QC   
Masterclass given in Oratorio at University of Toronto
Masterclass given in Oratorio at Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto, ON
2011Masterclass given in Oratorio at University of Toronto
2010Masterclass given in Voice at Calgary University, AB
2009Masterclass given for Opera Lyra Ottawa’s Young Artist Program, Ottawa, ON
2008Masterclass given in Voice at Brock University, St. Catharine’s, ON

Contact Shannon to inquire about private voice lessons and masterclasses.