For many years I ran a weekend voice workshop called Everyone Can Sing. It was a large part of my life, not just in time and income but in how profoundly rewarding the work was and how much it changed me as a teacher and group leader, as a singer and performer and also as a human being. From undertaking this work, I documented several essays about the methods used – about respect, criticism & confidence and about community development. Those essays were published on my previous music website, which is no longer online. So here is a very short precis with a few typical student quotes, as a taster of this important work. Feel free to contact me if you would like to know more.
‘this has been an outstanding course with an outstanding tutor who use a unique process that ensures success for everyone involved – it has been an absolute pleasure to be a part of this incredible weekend’
everyone can sing
Over 23 years the course attracted nearly 6,000 participants from all over Europe and beyond and it regularly sold out, sometimes with waiting lists as long as 2 years. Singers of absolutely all levels came to enjoy and improve – from professional opera singers to the tone deaf and even clinically deaf. Yet the course was aptly named, as everyone can indeed sing, if provided with the right help and support.
‘the course has been a wonderful experience – Dan has a rare talent for getting the very best out of people – I would recommend this to anyone looking for as supportive environment in which to develop their singing’
a holistic approach
The workshop was holistic and covered the following aspects of singing:
- the mechanics of singing – how to breathe correctly to sustain long notes and how to project to avoid damaging the voice
- intonation – how to listen correctly to sing in tune
- arrangement, presentation and emotion – how to arrange songs and present them for impact and how to move your audience by connecting to the emotion of the words
- developing that crucial confidence to enhance performance – this was achieved through managing a unique process of positive reinforcement and the banishment of limiting beliefs
‘I really don’t know how to thank you for all the ways you have helped me over three times I have taken part in your amazing course – I think your process is terrific and you are one of the few totally inspirational tutors – thank you for your skill, your sensitivity, your sense of humour and your warmth’
developing confidence & community
When I realised that confidence is key to many types of performance and that confidence is damaged by criticism, then criticism of any sort was banished on this course. I also realised that criticism serves the needs of the giver, not the recipient, which confirmed my approach. The simple act of removing criticism and declaring so at the start of the course, had many surprising and enormous benefits. Everyone relaxed and became brave enough to experiment which, with the right guidance, lead to outstanding results. Moreover, an ambience of profound respect prevailed, in which groups quickly bonded and developed what I call ‘real community’. In these ‘real communities’ differences are celebrated, not just tolerated and competition vanishes in an ambience of positive mutual support.
‘our tutor presented the course in a way that allowed all students to develop in a positive way at their own pace and developed a wonderful sense of a secure environment – this created a beautiful bonding amongst the group who embraced the philosophy of the course and achieved more than we could ever have thought possible’
I have named the process I developed ‘the engine’ and it has also been used in leadership and management skills coaching. Deploying the engine on courses be they music, management skills (or anything else for that matter) gives rise to three virtues: confidence development, team work & community and a positive ambience.
The following chart gives a brief overview of the engine and shows (with the curved arrows) that the engine runs on long after the course has finished, as the virtues are profound and enduring.
‘thank you for your inspirational coaching – the group soon bonded into friendship with your positive and kind leadership – I have gained so much from the course in addition to singing techniques – this was a huge boost to my confidence and left me a great feeling of well-being’