The Early Years no image

Published on January 21st, 2012 | by Leanne Waller

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First Singing Lessons

I was told in my early teens I couldn’t start private singing lessons until I was 16 years, when my voice had matured.

Interestingly enough, when I started my singing studio in 1995, I taught kids from the age of 6 years. Back then however, not taking on kids until they had reached a physical maturity was a common train of through. The classical singing genre was the main style being taught and demanded a huge amount of physical expectation from the voice. The strength only a developed larynx (voice box) can manage.

We are now more aware of what happens physiologically when singing, and due to teaching a different style to classical-popular music, we were able to accommodate all ages accordingly. I quite often used an aerobics analogy when talking about kids taking singing lessons:

you wouldn’t put an 8-year-old for example through an adult aerobics workout, it would be too physically challenging and damaging for them. You can however put kids through an aerobics workout geared towards 8 year olds

Anyway, it was 1982 so I waited, and when I turned 16 I was old enough to start lessons!

I was quick to pore over the yellow pages for singing teachers. I located a singing teacher who lived 10 minutes from me in the Adelaide foothills. I spent over two years with this teacher and did two Australian Music Examination Board (AMEB) singing exams.

I struggle over these two years vocally, in both my singing and talking voice. I was loosing my upper register and started singing with constriction in the neck area. I was also developing a nasal sound. I lost the fluency of speak in my speaking voice and was restricted from singing well.

I remember going into the second AMEB singing exam having practiced considerably beforehand. The examiner asked me if I had a cold and sore throat. Embarrassed, I replied “yes” unaware that my practice had caused the husky voice. This (a husky voice) by the way, wasn’t good! Due to my lack of progress, when I mentioned to this teacher I wanted to be a singer, she replied “you wont be a singer Leanne”. I didn’t take this comment seriously as I thought it was based on the fact she wasn’t able to improve me enough to achieve this. I didn’t think of changing teachers. I was young, naive and loyal. I hadn’t occurred to me there were better teachers elsewhere. I didn’t know any different.

Through my voice training experiences I was motivated later in life, to improve the standard of singing teaching in Adelaide. I always believed it was easy enough to make a good singer better, but it took a special teacher to take a voice needing work and make them good.

Leanne, 16yrs wearing a dress she made at fashion design classes in 1982. p.s. bubble skirts were very fashionable!

My parents views on education influenced my thoughts on the matter. Consequently, I also thought education wasn’t valuable. I left school towards the end of year 10. I always regretted this as I would have loved to have pursued tertiary education-music at university for example. Uni however was never an option. It was never mentioned-it didn’t exist! I rectified this in my early 20’s and put myself through Uni as a mature age student, and yes I did music! More about this later.

So I had left school and I needed to do something, so I did two years of Fashion Design at Marleston College of TAFE, in Adelaide. It was a competitive field and I knew I didn’t have the passion needed to make it in this cut throat industry. I never regret learning this skill as I have been able to use them ever since-making my own clothes, and costumes for my future singing studio!

When I went to Ballarat a few months from turning 18 to start my first business, it didn’t stop. I continued with educating and improving myself, after all, there was a dream to be attained…


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