(runs at Cranleigh Arts Centre)

Sharon and Eleanore Duggan run a songwriting workshop not to be missed by aspiring songwriters.

This workshop will help you to learn:

How songs are structured
How to develop melody and lyrics
Developing instrumentation, harmony and dynamics
Performance and Production
Songwriting mistakes

We will then endeavour to compose a song and produce it.  We will also consider the importance of modern production techniques and the importance of performance, as well as discussing the components of a good song eg. structure, dynamics, hooks, melody, instrumentation, harmony etc.

Please bring along any instruments that you play so that they can be incorporated as necessary into the song that you compose.  We will then perform the song at the end of the workshop.

Length of workshop:
10am - 4.30pm (1 day)

Open to:

Aspiring songwriters

30 for the day.
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Looking for a good singing teacher can be daunting.  As such, I've put this page together to help those of you who live too far away to come to me, or who just want to know a bit more about what to look for in a good singing teacher before committing yourself.

There are some obvious pointers that you can look for:

it goes without saying that you need to avoid any online training. Following a Youtube video won't provide you with anybody to correct your technique and you'll probably pick up some bad habits as a result!  As everyone starts lessons with bad habits, it's not a great idea to add more...

don't be impressed just because somebody has given vocal coaching on TV etc. Remember that a vocal coach is different from a singing teacher; vocal coaching isn't training the voice - or at least not properly!  Vocal coaching generally means just helping people to sing songs a bit better; it's never going to challenge you like having your voice trained properly.

personally, I am of the view that good singing teachers have had a formal classical training - you are unlikely to ever find a classically trained teacher damaging your voice (sadly, a common problem amongst "contemporary" or musical theatre trained teachers). The problem, however,  can be that most classically trained teachers don't teach or sing contemporary music styles  - but some of us do! I am also of this view because I have, over the 17 years I've been teaching, had a steady stream of students who have come to me to remedy the results of training that has damaged their voices.

Also, do be aware that classical exercises and a classical approach to  training the voice don't mean that you will sound like an opera singer when you don't want to (in any case, you need a certain type of voice to sound like an opera singer).  I use exactly the same techniques when singing jazz, folk, r'n'b or rock etc., I just sing these music styles with my natural voice instead of my classical voice.  it is, therefore, a matter of style not technique.

avoid anybody who is happy to train children's voices. Quite frankly, if they're prepared to do this, it says a lot about their ability as a teacher, as any decent singing teacher won't start developing  a voice in anyone under the age of 14years. 

Why?  Well, you wouldn't send your child to the gym to develop their muscles on the weight machines, because common sense would tell you that it would be a bad idea to develop muscles in a child's body.  As developing a voice involves developing muscles too, this is best left until a child has reached adolescence.  As such, don't be in a tearing hurry to start getting your child's voice trained - even if they've already been having lessons - quite frankly, the long-term health of your child's voice is more important, and those children whose voices are trained too early generally have vocal problems later on.  Having said this, I am happy to provide fun singing lessons for children but I DON'T correct their lack of technique.  Click on the link entitled CHILDREN to your left for more information on lessons for children.

if a teacher refers to "belting" out notes this is really not a good sign, as it suggests forcing your voice.  You should basically never put your voice anywhere that feels uncomfortable - go with your gut feeling/common sense! 

avoid anybody who is obsessed with whether you're singing in your head "voice" or in your chest "voice". Quite apart from the fact that you have just the one voice(!), what these teachers are actually forgetting is that your voice simply resonates in diffrent places. Your voice knows where it needs to be and will go there naturally. There is no need to "belt" anything if you use the diaphragm correctly.

h/ it's very bad practice to over-develop the chest "voice" (again, you have one voice, but it resonates from different places, so it's more accurate to refer to these as the chest resonator or register and the head resonator or register).  Overdeveloping the lower chest resonator can cause permanent damage over time and is in any case unnecessary if the voice has been trained properly (the reason often given for over-developing the chest register is if students want to sing rock etc - which of course they do using a microphone.)  However, people innately have quieter (smaller) or louder (bigger) voices, so even if you train somebody with a smaller voice, they'll still have a smaller voice at the end of that training than somebody who starts out with a bigger voice.  It's much better to sing the styles of repertoire that suit your voice rather than forcing yourself to sing things that give you problems and will effectively cause you to start shouting instead of singing.

The other problem with overdeveloping the chest register is that you then lose most of the top notes in your range - this is why most famous contemporary singers these days don't have high voices, whereas it was common years ago for female singers to have high voices (especially given that most women are naturally sopranos - even if they don't realise it!).

Think about the opera singers at Covent Garden or English National Opera, who every night of the week sing in theatres with about a two and a half thousand seating capacity, singing over a full orchestra (unmicrophoned) - and you begin to realise the difference in the quality of the training.  It doesn't matter what style of music you are singing, if your voice has been trained properly (and safely), you'll be able to project your voice well (although this will vary, as described above, depending on the size of your voice before you start training).

A good teacher will aim to develop your voice in an even and balanced way, so that it becomes stronger and more resonant right across its range, rather than concentrating just on bits of it - this leads to an extension of your range which most people want at the top of their voices anyway - again you would know that it was not a good idea to go to the gym and just exercise your legs - it's the same with your voice - you need to develop all of it equally.

j/why, in any case, would you want to avoid developing the top of your voice? Most people want to learn how to access and develop the top of their voice and extend their range.  This is most certainly NOT achieved by over-developing the chest "voice"/keeping your voice in the chest register.
Singer; Singing Teacher, Vocal & Performance Coach; Choral Director; Artist Manager
Email:; Telephone: 01483 271469

What to avoid, and training the voice -  a rough guide
Singer, Singing teacher, Sharon Duggan