Behind the Curtain
My name is Tora (short for Victoria) – I’m a trained Opera Singer and also run my own very successful teaching practice, both inside and outside of school for all ages and vocal abilities. I have always sung, and cant imagine doing anything else! I love to pass my knowledge on to the next generation of singers, or help someone build their confidence.
I regularly perform as a soloist and in productions – and come across all sorts of wonderful people and situations along the way… I’m always up to something and have several fun hobbies.
I hope you enjoy this small insight into my world!
Sing as If No One Is Listening!
I work as a peripatetic singing teacher in a lovely Prep School in Shakespeare’s County, England. Music is high on the list of priorities, equal with sport, which makes a nice change. This means the children don’t have to choose at an early age which they would rather do, and we have wonderful singers who play rugby, athletes who excel at the cello, and netball champions who sound ace on the saxophone!
Sometimes we come across problems with timetables, which are usually sorted with a little discussion and flexibility on all sides. However, the other day I came across the type of teacher who drives me mad. The ones who think their lesson is a priority, and that music isn’t helpful at all to a child’s well being! This annoys me on several levels – firstly, the suggestion that I have somehow ‘fallen into’ music and teaching singing as a career because I’m not capable of anything else, secondly, the incorrect idea that music should be kept within a secondary place, thirdly that music is of not use.
It raises the question… why has music become something which takes less priority than other subjects?
When I chose to become an opera singer, my parents were supportive, but told me to do it properly – train, get a degree, get experience and pass my knowledge on. This is exactly what I did, degree, postgraduate, studied in Italy, and embraced teaching as another string to my bow alongside the performing. I had a lot of comments, and still do, about when will I get a proper job, give up the ‘hobby’?! As someone who has worked in insurance for a couple of years and felt that I was suffocating, this idea is very funny to me!
Music, and in particular, singing has been proven to help with depression, to increase lung capacity, and to help with reading and counting. A student of mine has cystic fybrosis, and the breathing exercises have helped her significantly. Another has suffered a stroke, and the jaw relaxation exercises we did in her first lesson have improved her speech more than the work with a Speech therapist. Not to mention doctors suggesting joining a choir as a way to combat depression.
It can improve working as a team, cognitive function, confidence, discipline, interpretation and understanding of emotions and memory. Listening to music has shown to have positive effects on mood and relaxation or even inspire motivation. It can trigger emotions simple words cannot express.
So, I ask the teacher copying worksheets for the class to colour in – remind me why should my singing lesson take less priority? I’d love to hear your response.