Just Sing !
William Griffiths Dip ABRSM
Nothing thrills me quite as much as the sound of a
singing voice in free flow. I experienced this as an
eleven-year old at my first choir practice in
secondary school. I had grown up surrounded by
singing voices, and I was a bit of a performer of
folk songs and popular music. But the ringing tones
of a well-trained treble in a fine anthem were in a
different league. I never left the choir, and went on to study
music at University. I knew that singing was more
than choirs. For my 13th birthday I received two
little records: four opera arias sung by Beniamino
Gigli, and excerpts from Mozart's Don Giovanni
sung by Siepi, Della Casa, Gueden, Dermota & Danco.
As a young music student searching for the secret of such sounds, I found the
writings of E. Herbert-Caesari. He, at age 85,
inducted me into the old Italian school known as
bel canto. This has remained my technical basis
and my aesthetic ideal. This is what I teach my
Do you want to sing?
The question is important, because the ability
depends upon the desire. If you want to sing, you
will. If your answer is "yes", read on.
Do you believe you have a singing voice?
I have good news for you. The human voice was
designed for singing. It may be that you were once
told that you cannot sing. Such a statement is cruel
and untrue. Of course, some people naturally sing
better than others. But the technique can be learnt.
Singing is the natural and healthy use of your vocal
organ. The better you sing, the healthier you will
So, what is there to learn?
A great deal, whoever you are. Those rare
individuals who sing perfectly without study are not
excepted. They are at risk of losing their technique
through acquiring bad habits which abuse the voice.
They need training in self-awareness in order to
maintain the natural technique that they began with.
For the rest of us, the great majority of those
wishing to sing well, the perfect technique
characteristic of the natural singer needs to be
acquired by careful and disciplined study.
Why do I need a teacher?
Because you cannot hear yourself as others hear you.
No one can. This is a law of nature. The singer
feels, rather than hears, their own voice. What the
audience hears is quite different. The role of the
teacher is to be an expert critical audience, helping the
singer to become aware of when and how they are
achieving the desired effect.
What will I learn?
The singer is both player and instrument. The skills
of the player are called musicianship, responding
imaginatively to the song one is singing and
learning how to communicate this response to the
audience. The skills of the instrument are called
vocal technique, meaning the optimal use of the
vocal organ. This involves good posture, breath
control, use of the resonating cavities in chest,
throat and head. Co-ordinating these functions is a
delicate art acquired through patient practice. .