A smaller group of people gathered inside The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance (ICMP) a few weeks ago when our vocal coach, Collena said: “did you know that you are going to perform today?” We all got panicked. Of course, we came to learn to sing but on the first occasion, none of us thought we would need to stand up and sing in front of people.
I missed music in my life. I studied classical music at school and played the cello some time ago. At first, I wanted to play an instrument again, but I realised the voice is also an instrument. I had never learnt to sing before, which made me curious about what I could achieve with my voice. I was also sure I did not want one-on-one sessions; I wanted to have a team experience, so I started searching for group courses. Then, ICMP offered what I was after the Introduction to Vocals Evening Course. Along the way, I realised that I enjoyed getting better at controlling my voice.
We needed some time to get to know each other until we bonded well. This was so successful that we self-organised one session when the substitute teacher could not make it. We always started each class with a warm-up exercise:
- Physical exercise (including jaws massage)
- Semi-occluded exercise (like lip trills)
- Head voice exercise
- Chest voice exercise
After the warm-up, everyone came onto the stage and sang a verse and a chorus into the microphone. After each performance, Collena asked us what we would like to improve on. She gave us personalised practices that we could do at home, using straws and crazy things to make us or our performance more relaxed. This allowed us to hit higher or lower notes. In the end, we learned a lot from each other’s performances, and we listened to a variety of different songs.
I am glad I signed up and took the tube to Kilburn every Tuesday. Even when I was tired afterwards, it was worth learning something different about my voice. Moreover, I mastered techniques that help my breathing. I use my voice quite often so I feel more well-equipped to prevent it from becoming exhausted. I was fortunate to be part of a group where people supported each other. I would encourage anybody to explore singing.