Learn vocal style and technique at jazz singing masterclass

Jazz singing

Britain’s leading jazz experts will share their knowledge at a one-day masterclass on jazz singing, musicianship and improvisation.

Finding Your Inner Jazz: Voice, style and pedagogy will take place in Kings Cross, London, on 22 September. You don’t need to be an experienced jazz singer to attend, but you do need an interest in the genre and a love of singing.

Top vocal coach Louise Gibbs, who helped put the course together, gave iSingmag the lowdown on the event.

What will the Finding Your Inner Jazz course cover?

This is the first ever British Voice Association (BVA) jazz event, and certainly the first I know of in the UK that connects jazz singing, style and improvisation with evidence-based knowledge of vocal pedagogy and function. The day offers an overview of what developing a jazz singer entails whether singing songs associated with the repertoire and style or becoming more creatively involved with the jazz tradition and improvisation. We’ll be welcoming questions and participation. 

What level of singer do you need to be to attend? Do you need a background in jazz singing?

The day is relevant to singers and teachers curious about jazz (coming perhaps from classical, music theatre, pop, soul). No previous background in the genre is needed. The event will also interest jazz singers and teachers who want to understand more about the voice, and how its management impacts microphone technique, style and improvisation. It’s an opportunity to see respected jazz voice educators at work. You’ll gain valuable information and strategies for jazz singing and teaching, try them out, and see their application in the master class.

Who will be teaching on the day?

Myself, Louise Gibbs, jazz singer, composer and teacher. I will set up the day with an overview of the expressive styles and vocal setups associated with jazz singers as diverse as Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Anita O’Day, Abbey Lincoln, Betty Carter, Norma Winstone, Gretchen Parlato and Esperanza Spalding.

Renowned pianist-singer, educator, composer and director of the London Vocal Project ensemble Pete Churchill will immerse us in the music, focusing on the most distinctive aspect of jazz, which are its rhythms and rhythmic vocalisations.

Line Hilton, singer, voice teacher and iSingmag founder, will deal with how to manage register transitions between “chest” and “head” voice, CT and TA set ups, thick and thin vocal folds. This is a critical aspect of vocal technique for singers from other genres wanting a more jazz tone, as it is for jazz singers in search of their own distinctive sound and vocal reliability when improvising.

Singer-guitarist and Brit-School singing coach Anton Browne will demonstrate how the microphone and associated electronic technology is the singer’s second instrument, changing the very way we sing. He’ll offer practical advice on how to manage technology to enhance our basic sound and explore its creative possibilities in jazz and pop.

Jazz singer and teacher Sara Colman and vocal rehabilitation coach and teacher Sarah Wright-Owens offer a collaborative session, sharing the valuable insights gained from teaching each other, exchanging knowledge and expertise from jazz improvisation and musicianship to vocal anatomy and function, jazz tone and classical tone, vocal inefficiency, pedagogical strategies and problem solving. Their session will concentrate specifically on learning how to improvise.

A master class involving all contributors will close the day. We have one place left if anyone would like to volunteer themselves. We promise we’ll be constructive and gentle.

What are the common misconceptions about jazz singing?

That jazz singing is mysterious and difficult. Also, that it is unlike any other kind of singing. The purpose of this BVA event is to dispel these misconceptions.

What are the myths around jazz impro?

Most of the myths around improvisation are to do with it being mysterious and difficult! (Funny that…) That you’re born able to improvise; that if you can’t do it now you’ll never learn; that improvising can’t be learnt, and it certainly can’t be taught; that it’s something other-worldly and if you can’t get yourself naturally into a special state it won’t happen; that it’s something especially talented singers do; that if I’m not a natural expert improviser already then I’ll never be; that I’m not a good enough improviser already; that I need to learn jazz so I can improvise; that I need to scat to be a jazz vocal improviser. 

Need I go on…? The purpose of Finding Your Inner Jazz is to challenge these myths.

For more information or to book a place on the course CLICK HERE.

Want to read more about jazz singing? CLICK HERE to read a beginner’s guide to singing jazz.

Our mission is to empower the singer through their voice, performance, health, understanding of the biz, and mindset so they can go out and create to their heart’s content.