Voice Studio

Technique is inseparable from art.

Lilli Lehmann, How to Sing, 1914.
The Slow Scale
Lilli Lehmann
Manuel Garcia II
Lilli Lehmann

The ‘Old Italian Singing Method’

As we listen to the last generation of Italian singers on their primitive gramophone recordings, often made at an age when a faultily produced voice would have already disappeared and when even a superbly produced one is long past its best, we hear distantly through the mechanical barrier a limpid flow of incredible agility and accuracy, not one note of which is either forced or out of scale. No effort is made at volume; it is the placed voice which reaches the back of the hall, the forced voice which fails to carry. The line is moulded, the voice is placed, with almost superhuman control.

Robert Donington, The Interpretation of Early Music, page 516.

I am a beginning singing teacher. The method I would like to teach is the old Italian singing method. A lot of people call it ‘Bel Canto’. I am studying books by the likes of Manuel Garcia and Hermann Klein.

In order to teach this method I am embarking on a three year study, including a doctorate. I will be seeking peer review throughout and have applied to be a member of a singing teachers’ association. Fundamental to this is that I am working hard to improve my own singing before I embark on teaching others.

My singing teacher, Beatrice Webster, always said the voice takes time to mature, like a good wine. But, it is worth the wait. Perhaps that is also true of my realisation that the old Italian way of singing is the superior technique.

I only perform classical now but in the past I have performed many styles. I have been very rough on my voice at times because I have sung a lot of experimental 20th Century music. Not just classical but crossover too. I have even written my own songs in a folk/rock style. Thankfully, my voice held up. Probably, due to the core of technique I held on.

My gratitude goes to my teachers.

I was fortunate to learn the Old Italian Singing Method from the late Beatrice Webster, a student of Lucie Manen. I also learnt the method from Isabel Cunningham, Beatrice’s pupil. In addition, in 2004, after a decade of singing professionally, I refreshed my voice and graduated with a Masters of Music with Distinction at the University of Otago under the supervision of Isabel Cunningham and Professor Terence Dennis.

Now I am refreshing it again.

I hope you will consider becoming my student.

I will be on a steep learning curve. However, to reiterate, I will be under peer review from other singing teachers and also from professors because I am studying for my Doctorate.

Below is an example of my singing. It is not perfect, but I doubt any singer who truly loves the art of singing is ever happy.


Estrellita by Manuel Ponce

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